SI Vault
Gilbert Rogin
December 10, 1962
Crusader Tom Rosandich (left) is rushing about the U.S. looking for volunteers to coach in Indonesia
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December 10, 1962

Wanted! 32 Guys For The Boondocks

Crusader Tom Rosandich (left) is rushing about the U.S. looking for volunteers to coach in Indonesia

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Racing about the U.S. these days is a gaunt, passionate and evangelical man in a Hong Kong suit; Loh San Teh, his name in Chinese, and Thomas P. Rosandich, his name in English, are embroidered on the lining. In his two heavy suitcases are three great scrapbooks, cans of film and samples of batik which he bestows, like a prudent explorer, upon the coaches and physical education teachers he is visiting at 35 colleges and universities in 19 states during his frenetic 23-day dash.

There are inconspicuous scars on both of his wrists; Tom Rosandich is a blood brother twice over. One blood brother is a fellow called Kuda, who comes from the Kalibat plateau in Sarawak. "The only way you can get to this man's home," says Rosandich, dramatically, "is by a three-month walk." His other blood brother is Gabuh, a hop-step-and-jumper from North Borneo.

Rosandich (he pronounces it Rozon-dish) is a 33-year-old ex-marine who was born in Sheboygan, Wis. of Yugoslav immigrant parents. He now lives in Jakarta with his wife, Sally, five children, five servants, a monkey called Monkey and a dog named Poochie. He has been, for the past year and a half, employed by the Republic of Indonesia as national track and field coach.

The urgent purpose of Rosandich's trip to the U.S. is to recruit for the Peace Corps 32 men and women with physical education backgrounds to coach and set up sports programs in the daerah daerah, or provinces, of Indonesia. This is the first time that Indonesia, a neutral but militaristic and left-inclined nation, has invited the Peace Corps in. She thus joins such prominent unaligned countries as India, Ghana and Guinea, all of which already have Peace Corps projects and, because of Indonesia's considerable influence and prestige among the neutrals, she may influence others—the United Arab Republic, Burma and Cambodia, for instance—which do not.

Since, due to pressures within the Indonesian government, a project connected with the hospital ship program HOPE and the privately financed Asia Foundation were, to all purposes, kicked out of Indonesia, the request for U.S. assistance is a windfall and has been given highest priority by the Peace Corps.

Indonesia, which was a Dutch possession until 1945, is a vast archipelago of more than 3,000 islands—the most familiar being Java, Sumatra and Bali—extending some 3,000 miles from Sumatra in the west to newly ceded West Irian, formerly Netherlands New Guinea, in the east. With 95 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous nation in the world. Indonesia ranks second in the world in rubber and third in tin. On account of these, and its strategic location between the Southeast Asian mainland and Australia, the Soviet Union has poured more foreign aid into Indonesia than into any other non-Communist nation with the possible exception of Cuba.

In recent years a large proportion of this aid has been in the field of sport. Like many other emergent nations, Indonesia has used sport as a means of achieving national unity and patriotism. Sport has also increased attendance at school, where it is a compulsory subject. Since more children are going to school, the literacy rate in Indonesia has climbed from 5% in 1945 to 40% today.

For the Fourth Asian Games, which took place amid much acrimony—Indonesia refused to admit teams from Israel and Taiwan—in the capital city of Jakarta last August, Russia lent President Sukarno's government $12.5 million and 200 experts to help build the main stadium. This stunning arena, completely roofed and seating 102,000, was considered so important by the U.S.S.R. that Khrushchev activated the machinery that drove in the 100th pile, and First Deputy Premier Mikoyan attended the opening ceremony. The Russians cannily call the stadium the Monument of Friendship, and it, and a glorified view of the Russian way of life, are exorbitantly extolled in a pamphlet distributed by the Russian embassy in Jakarta. The stadium is the centerpiece of a sports complex—among the major facilities are a swimming stadium, a basketball arena and a tennis stadium—which is considered to be the finest in the world. For its part, America is working on a Jakarta road-building program. When the bypass was temporarily surfaced to provide access to the Asian Games, one Congressman accused the State Department of building the road for the Games. The U.S. has already spent $30 million on malaria eradication, but highways and DDT cannot be exploited like a Monument of Friendship.

"To hell with the Monument," said Tom Rosandich early one morning last week as he flew to Portland, Ore. after addressing a meeting of cross-country coaches in East Lansing, Mich. "A Bridge of Understanding is better. That stadium is like an upside-down pyramid, for out in the daerah there is almost no physical education program at all. West Irian, that's the Stone Age! But I had 14 boys who jumped 22 feet in little North Borneo. Same kind of country. Russia has scored points, but what's important is who reaches the minds of the young people going into the stadium in Jakarta.

"A country can unite itself in two ways—by war or by sport," says Rosandich, who has a knack for speaking in slogans. "Congress says what's the use of sending musclemen over there? The use? These young people can teach them English, hygiene, sportsmanship and contribute to the physical well-being of a nation. Sukarno doesn't call it the Peace Corps, he calls it Sukarelawan Pembangunon—volunteers to uplift.

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