Texas Tech University

TTU international student Muhammad Thalal meeting President Clinton

At Taman Tepi Laut, Banda Aceh, July 19, 2014

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the tsunami disaster that struck on December 26, 2004, President Clinton visited Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to see how the community has built back better. The visit to the country's northern-most province was the fourth for President Clinton, following two visits in 2005 and another in 2006.

I was surprised to receive this email on Saturday July 19, 2014 around 11:21 am: “President Clinton is in Banda Aceh and he wants to meet with us at Taman Tepi Laut Restaurant by 1 pm.” An hour later I was near the beautiful beach where the restaurant was located and questioned by the local police and US Secret Service about my purpose to see the President. “I am invited to meet President Clinton because in 2006 I was sent to study in the United States by President Clinton,” I said.

As part of the international relief effort to rebuild Aceh and its people, President Clinton joined President George H.W. Bush to sponsor some Acehnese to continue their study in the United States. The scholarship was funded by the Bush and Clinton Foundation through the Fulbright Tsunami Relief Program.

When it came to my turn to talk to the President, I told him, “I did my Master's degree in Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M, and upon graduation I returned to Banda Aceh to teach at a local university. But now I am back to the US for my PhD study at Texas Tech University.” President Clinton smiled and said, “Lubbock? That's a great place in West Texas.” He hoped that I would enjoy studying at Tech.

Ten years after the tsunami disaster that took the lives of 230,000 people, President Clinton was able to meet some former students who have graduated and returned to Aceh to rebuild the country and make it better. I was very happy to get the opportunity to meet President Clinton.

Note: Muhammad Thalal, a student from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, is working toward his PhD in History.

Written by: Muhammad Thalal
Posted date: 08/20/2014


Meeting President Clinton at Taman Tepi Laut, Banda Aceh, July 19, 2014.