Some of the victims of the September 12th bombing attack on the U.S.A. are less obvious than others.
The growing isolationism of the U.S. in the aftermath of those attacks, almost cost one Balinese family the dream of a lifetime when a leading local community health worker, I Made Setiawan, discovered that his visa to pursue a Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois at Chicago had been put on an indefinite "hold" as the U.S. Government decided how to implement its strict new rules governing non-immigrant visitors.
Nearly one year ago, Made, a well-known and energetic worker in Bali's AIDS/HIV education programs, had already closed his house, packed his bags and brought his wife, Jane, and young son, Samu to Jakarta prior to plans to fly on to America when the Embassy gave him the bad news. Arguments made by friends and colleagues with "official America" that a respected AIDS Educator and the founder of a foundation striving to prevent AIDS among Bali's drug users, a Hindu-Balinese, and a man with an English-American wife hardly fit the profile of a terrorist - held little sway with "officialdumb." Instead of boarding a flight to Chicago, the Setiawan's found themselves back at their home in Bali, meekly asking the American hotelier who had rented their home if he'd mind terribly if they refunded his rent and let them move back in.
Very concerned that the "chance of a lifetime" to take up a scholarship to study Health Policy and Administration in the U.S.A. was forever lost, arrangements were eventually made for Made to undertake distance learning via computer with the University of Chicago faculty.
Fortunately, after a delay of nearly 8 months, Made's student visa for the U.S.A. has finally been approved. In late March the Setiawan's will be traveling to Chicago to begin a hurried search for a suitable apartment for them while Made completes his classroom work before his anticipated return to Bali in June of 2004 to complete his written dissertation.
Able to reflect positively on the disruption to their lives over the past year, Jane considers her unexpected "bonus" months in Bali a blessing, providing the chance to live in the family's newly built house. In this period Samu has grown to a full meter in height and enjoys a daily romp through the nearby rice fields, chasing the dragon flies and paying his respects to a family of pigs and piglets on a nearby farm. Jane worries that her curly-headed blond-haired Balinese "tiger-cub" may find Chicago apartment living too confining and is already eagerly looking forward to their return to Bali where Samu will start school in August of 2004.
In their last few days before bidding Bali farewell, the Setiawan's are busy packing and enjoying their home surrounded by their many cats, while the savouring a delicious harvest of papayas and bananas planted only one year ago when they first moved into their new house.
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