Emily Wood

Emily Wood is an alumna of the 2018 CLS Indonesian program in Malang, Indonesia. She is graduating from the University of Wyoming in May 2019, where she is double-majoring in International Studies and German. Starting in August, Emily will be serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, teaching high school English. After serving in the Peace Corps, Emily hopes to pursue a graduate degree and work in international development as a Foreign Service Officer. Emily loves to explore the outdoors through rock climbing and hiking.

Bitten by the Travel Bug

Taking a gap year in Germany after high school through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange changed my outlook on the world. Since then, I have been striving to learn about other cultures through first-hand experiences and share this knowledge with others.

Indonesia intrigued me because of its diversity, being full of languages, religions, and ethnicities; I wanted to learn more about how this diversity plays a role in the national identity. I knew very little about it going to Indonesia for the first time, but I fell in love with the culture and people and want to continue going back.

Bonding with Classmates

I loved my class, Kelas Belimbing, because our teachers were so much fun and everyone felt comfortable just being silly. We started with the language skills of toddlers and did all sorts of ridiculous things together as a class, making learning easier and more enjoyable. I have so many great memories from going to class every day, and the friendships that I made with my teachers and classmates.

My favorite word to say (just because it is a lot of fun) is “perpustakaan,” which means “library.” Two other favorite things to say are “belum” which means “not yet” and is often used where we would just say “no.” I love this word because it leaves you open for possibilities. I also like “tidak apa apa” which is essentially “it’s not a big deal.”

Cultural Comparisons

It is always fun to tell Indonesians about the many differences between Wyoming and Indonesia. Indonesians view nature in a very different context than they do in Wyoming and the U.S., and I was glad to have the chance to spend some time hiking with Indonesians so we could learn about each other’s perspectives. I also taught everyone country swing dancing, especially the line dance from Footloose, which took a little practice but was a ton of fun.

Although it is difficult to find some of the ingredients in Wyoming (I miss all the fresh tropical fruit!), I still talk a lot about Indonesian food and try to make small portions after trips to Denver. My friends often hear me complain about how no matter where I go, the tempeh is never as good as it is in Indonesia.

Professional Goals

After seeing a lot of small start-ups and development initiatives throughout Indonesia, I was inspired to pursue a career related to this. I hope to continue to return to Indonesia to help provide another perspective and assistance to these local initiatives and help create the change that they want to see in their communities.


CLS Alumni Ambassadors are recent CLS participants who take leadership roles as active and positive representatives of the CLS Program by engaging with CLS alumni and representing the program to various audiences. If you would like to get in touch with a CLS Alumni Ambassador, please contact clsalumni@americancouncils.org