After months of waiting in limbo and much back-and-forth with the Indonesian consulate, the Indonesia Study Service Term group will finally be able to enter the country.The ten students will leave from Philadelphia, where they have spent the study portion of the semester, on Thursday, March 3, for their six-week service component on three Indonesian islands. Five students will do their service on the Java island, three will go to the island of Sumba, and two will travel to Timor.
Jan Bender Shetler, director of international education, said that the visas came through on Monday, and they found out that their plane tickets were approved on Tuesday — “we told the students right away.”
According to Caroline Robling-Griest, one of the students in the group, “there is a huge sense of relief across the group that everything is going to work out. We’re really glad that we’ll get to visit the country that we’ve been studying [about] for the past five months.”
“We have been anticipating that they would come through for a while,” said Bender Shetler, “and on Friday we heard that something might be coming.”
As for what changed, allowing them to get visas? “Indonesia finally decided to open up,” said Bender Shetler. Through their connection with the pastor of the Philadelphia church where the group is staying, they were able to Zoom with a member of the consulate and he recommended that they apply for business visas, which were granted.
SST members “normally get a social-cultural visa,” Bender Shetler said, but neither those nor tourist visas were available.
Students will have to undergo a three-day quarantine upon arrival, but Bender Shetler said that they would be able to do a “bubble quarantine,” perhaps even on the beach of Bali during their “three-day vacation” of sorts.
Robling-Griest summed it up, saying, “I think we’re all just ready to get out there and explore.”