Alumni Spotlight: Annabelle Wilmott

IndonesiaName: Annabelle Wilmott

Home Town and University: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri when I was nine, and lived there until I was 18. I studied my undergraduate degree at Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain.

Fulbright ETA placement location and year: I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Yogyakarta, Java during the 2014-2015 grant period. I taught at SMAN I Yogyakarta.

Current city and job: I have transitioned from being a teacher to becoming a student once again. I am currently studying a Master of Science of International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Life After Fulbright:  While in Yogyakarta, I met a former Fulbrighter, Ibu Rahmawati Husein, who is the vice chair of Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Centre and an assistant professor at Universitas Muhammadiyah. Her experiences working in disaster relief inspired me to pursue this master’s degree. After my grant, I moved to London, UK, to study International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies at the LSE. I am planning to return to Indonesia next summer in order to conduct research on the nature of Islamic faith-based responses to internal displacement.

Since starting at the LSE, I have gotten very involved in refugee and migrant issues. I am the Campaigns Officer for the Amnesty International society on campus. For the week of November 9th-13th, I organized a campaign week dedicated to refugees and asylum seekers’ rights. I have also recently been invited to join professors on the LSE Global Migration Initiative. Together, we are looking for global solutions to the refugee crisis, and we are creating a systematic approach that pulls together evidence-based solutions via an “Alliance of Universities.” Furthermore, I have undertaken a humanitarian consultancy project with the International Rescue Committee exploring the policy gaps in the legal framework concerning relocation and protection of unaccompanied and separated refugee children. These experiences have allowed me to gain much insight into the issues of refugees and asylum seekers, and I hope that I will be able to use this knowledge when I am researching Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Indonesia next summer.

Although I am no longer in Indonesia, it still remains a big part of my life. I often wear batik to university. At my dorm, I have six friends from Indonesia, and I am able to practice bahasa Indonesia with them, and even make pecel. I continue to take bahasa classes at the Indonesian embassy in London, and it even comes in handy when I least expect it. The other day, while I was riding the tube, I was sitting across from two girls, and then I realized that I could understand what they were saying, although they weren’t speaking English. I asked them if they were from Indonesia. However, I found out they were from Brunei and Malaysia. The rest of the time we were on the tube, they spoke to me in Malay and I responded in bahasa Indonesia. The language allows me to communicate with people that I might not be able to otherwise.

Indonesia stole my heart. I told myself, before leaving, that I shouldn’t blabber about it all the time, and make all my friends jealous. But I can’t stop talking about it or thinking about it. When I look at a map, my eyes focus right on Indonesia. I miss the Call of Prayer, marking off different times of the day. I miss the smiles and laughs of my students, chatting away with an Ibu at a warung, the sounds of the gamelan while teaching, the exhilarating feel of riding my motorcycle, sunsets over the temple, and enjoying tea with my roommate during the night.

I know I have to go back.

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One thought on “Alumni Spotlight: Annabelle Wilmott

  1. Annabelle,

    Thanks for your alumni post! I love your last paragraph. It has been two years and I too still think and talk about Indonesia all the time (even though I tell myself not to). I managed to go back and visit for Lebaran this past summer and it was wonderful. I still think of Indonesia as my second home/family. Best of luck with your MS and upcoming summer research!

    Best, Shaylen

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