Before and After the USINDO Summer Studies Program

I have been back in the US for a few weeks after spending the summer in Indonesia (and it will probably be a few more weeks before I eat any rice). I have been abroad a few times before, Canada and Mexico a few times each for a couple days (but they don’t really count), Spain for two weeks, and China for two weeks. However, this was my first time studying abroad (and my first time to Indonesia).

Before leaving for Indonesia, my goals were pretty simple. I wanted to learn some Bahasa Indonesia, explore a small portion of Indonesia, and make many new friendships. I definitely achieved my (meager) goals. The teachers and tutors at Sanata Dharma were fantastic! It was being able to chat in Bahasa Indonesia with my MBA classmate (who is from Jakarta). And one of my new roommates speaks Bahasa Malaysia; however, as expected I have no idea what he is saying half the time (but he can understand me)! While in Indonesia, I feel like I went all over Java (Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, all around Jogja, the Surabaya airport, and Bromo. Jogja was a great city to spend a couple months.

Bandung was also a really cool city and Bromo was awesome as well. However, aside from all the great tourist attractions, traveling off-the-beaten path was the most rewarding part of the summer. For instance, visiting coffee farms/villages near Merapi and getting swarmed by kids or getting stared at by a cute little girl (who only spoke Bahasa Java) on the train to Bromo. I definitely feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people in Indonesia. My fellow American students were very accomplished and I look forward to both staying in touch and watching them succeed in the future. The faculty at Sanata Dharma were excellent but were also really interesting and nice people too; I look forward to keeping tabs on my tutor Mas Gustav.

My host family was absolutely wonderful. They were the epitome of good, religious people. Seriously, they made me want to be a better person when I was staying with them. I am grateful that they opened their arms (and their kitchen) for me. During Idul Fitri they took me all over the place! I met the Mayor of Jogja and a “Chief Justice,” went to a few weddings, visited their mosque, attended some NU meetings, and also got to visit their extended family during the Idul Fitri break! Lastly, everyone at PCMI, USINDO, and Wikikopi (my internship) were awesome as well! Reconnecting with everyone is worth a trip back to Indonesia in its own right.

Getting exposure to different cultures and perspectives stretches your mind and lets you see the world in a different lens. This experience has changed me; it has made me better. I certainly think of Indonesia differently. What was just the 4th most populous country with a G20 economy is now a country I hold dear in my heart. And one I want to get back to so I can reconnect with old friends and explore more of the beautiful country! The food was also really good and I really hope I can find a good Indonesian restaurant here in Seattle! As a result of this experience I will also be pursuing career opportunities in the region.

POST-PROGRAM EVENT with KEMKOMINFO

We spent our final few days of the USINDO Summer Studies Program in Jakarta. The Post-Program event was hosted by Indonesia’s KEMKOMINFO. It seemed like we crammed in as much as possible. We met with several government departments / agencies, visited many of Jakarta’s attractions, and visited the University of Indonesia.

Jakarta is a massive (and modern) city. It dwarfs the majority of “major” US cities. The only city I can even compare it to is Shanghai. We really got an appreciation for the complexity of the city when we were allowed an inside look at Jakarta’s Smart City. And although we ran all over the city, my favorite tourist destinations were the National Monument and the Istiqlal Mosque.

Similar to the rest of the program in Indonesia, the best part of the visit was the people. The officials and guest speakers were excellent. But the highlight of Jakarta was visiting the University of Indonesia. It was wonderful to meet our Indonesian peers and to have a friendly cross-cultural dialogue. Spending the last few days in Jakarta was a memorable finish to an excellent summer!

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 14:39:12

Before and After the USINDO Summer Studies Program

Living in Indonesia for two and a half months was life changing to say the least. Before participating in the USINDO Summer Studies program I was intrigued with Southeast Asia for its vast diversity in ethnicities, economics, cultures and its impact to the rest of the world in the midst of rapidly developing.  Although in the beginning of the program I was eager to come in with a blank state and immerse myself in every aspect of the country, I was quickly surprised by the amount of strength and perseverance it took to maintain a positive outlook while being open to the culture that surrounded me. In the end, this battle between mindfulness and learning opened my mind as well as my heart to a part of the world that is too often forgotten about.

In the beginning of my stay in Indonesia I was quick to notice the things I saw as negative.  A notion of understanding was instilled upon me during my first trip to a small impoverished village with my internship: Wikikopi.

During this first excursion to a village in East Java I was humbled by what I saw: the rawness of a society that had been the victims of a country overrun with tyranny for hundreds of years. After seeing such intense poverty in the village I quickly began to see the city in a new light. Instead of noticing the crumbling sidewalks, pollution, unregulated traffic and space that always seemed to be filled with hundreds of people hurrying from one place to the next, I began to see the beauty in development. This came in the form of seeing the rapid population increase that balanced with the new high rise buildings that seemed to spring up in just two short months. Instead of seeing the lack of planning in some areas, I saw the people living there and always wondering if they were first generation city dwellers escaping the unparalleled poverty in the villages.

Learning about Indonesian culture was balanced by learning the language and social practices. After devoting a summer to this experience I feel like I really understand Indonesia and feel empowered to advocate for the country whenever possible.

I will be forever grateful to USINDO for giving me this opportunity to learn about the world and grow as a person. This experience will never leave my mind and I am excited to share my new knowledge with people in the U.S. Reflecting on the program and the summer in Indonesia I can honestly say that it has altered my view of life in a way I did not know was possible.

Reflections on the Post- Program Event with KEMKOMINFO


Although I was sick with typhoid fever during the last four days of the trip, the post program event that I had the opportunity to participate in was wonderful. Sadly, I was in my hotel room for most of the first two days but I did get to be part of the ending dinner at Por Que No. The restaurant was lovely, and the food was wonderful. What was even more important than that was the overall ambiance of the restaurant as we reflected as a group what was most important about our experience and gave insights for the program overall. Being at this restaurant that seems to look over all of downtown Jakarta was a sensational prideful feeling. Meeting past participles and learning what they were now doing was an emotional understanding that we are part of something much larger than we realized. I wish I could have participated more in the post program event because it seemed very interesting and insightful, but from what I did get to experience it was wonderful and I am so appreciative to USINDO for giving us a last chance to see just how much we had accomplished.

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 14:20:55

A Summer Abroad: A Reflection on Indonesia

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.”

How I Found Myself in Indonesia

Four months ago I set out on an unlikely adventure; an adventure to grow, learn from and experience a place I had never been to. It all started when a close friend of mine told me about an opportunity to apply for a trip to Indonesia through the United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO). After hearing about this opportunity I was immediately excited thinking about returning to Southeast Asia, a region that is almost a second home to me. You see, my parents have lived in India for many years and that had given me the ability to spend ample amounts of time exploring that area of the world. However, Indonesia was a country I had yet to visit and the prospect of an opportunity to study there was something I did not want to miss.

The only problem about applying to this program was that I had only been informed about it a few days before the deadline and that left me little time to get everything together that I needed to submit. As I rushed to get the necessary items together, I felt little hope that I would get the application submitted in time or have a chance to get accepted. Nonetheless, the prospect of going to Indonesia had me so excited that I got the application and all necessary paper work in on time. After a month I received an unexpected email saying that I had been accepted into the program and that I needed to get my passport and other documents gathered promptly. Simultaneously, at this time, I was working with an advisor from my university department which requires students to study abroad for a semester. This gave my chance to live in Indonesia greater meaning and higher stakes.

After getting the exciting news of my acceptance set in I set to get the logistics in order and immediately discovered that my passport was out of room and would not have enough pages for my trip. However, at this time I did not have the usual month long waiting period to receive a new passport because I had two weeks until departure. Also, this was the week of my finals during a very busy 18 credit semester. Alas, there was another way; I could go to a passport office in Tucson and have my passport expedited. A day later I made this four hour round trip just in time to take an exam. After all of this I was finally ready for my trip.

Expectations for My Journey and What Happened While There

Before going on this trip I had formed many expectations, as is natural and inevitable before an unknown journey. Many restless nights were spent worrying about if my host family would like me or if I would be up to par with the other students going. In all my travels and I had never stayed with strangers let alone been hosted by another family. I wondered about what sort of etiquette would be appropriate in someone else’s home and what would happen if I did something that upset them. I had so much fear about the unexpected cultural differences and how to act in someone else’s home. Aside from staying with a new family I expected the classes to be challenging and time consuming and felt unsure about my ability to learn a new language. This fear was coupled with my uncertainty about my abilities compared to studious peers. Although I worried about these things I also had many hopes for the trip. I looked forward to the connections I could make and benefit from by going, about working with, studying and meeting new/influential people while there. Eventually fear and hope gave way to anticipation and I was on my way to spend the summer in Indonesia.

Upon arrival I began to meet the other participants and my worries started to dissipate: my worry about whether or not I could fit in with the other participants and whether or not I could be up to the level of others who had earned titles or prestigious degrees I have not. The resolution to this was that they were just people and students like myself. Not only did they too have their own fears and insecurities but most of all I realized that a degree or title does not mean half as much as we let it. The fact that someone has had the privilege to study at a certain school or earn a certain degree takes talent and it does deserve credit. However, it is often that an unrealistic amount of prestige is given to such titles and this sort of prestige can cloud judgement over the actual merit of a person.

My fear about my host family ended up being irrelevant as soon as I met them. Overall, I found the Javanese people to be kind, patient and hospitable. My family was exactly that. I lived with a young couple who had twelve dogs and a beautiful house. They always made sure I felt at home and comfortable. My host mom was deeply embedded into the art scene of Jogjakarta and made sure to take me to all sorts of events that were happening around. It was not always easy living with a new family and there were definitely differences to get used to, such as, the language barrier, set meal times and accountability. I grew up in a home where I did not often have family meals, anyone asking about my whereabouts or how things were going. I found these differences and their involvement in my life to be a beautiful and touching thing but also very interesting to get used to. This experience alone taught me so much about myself and the Indonesian culture. Living with a family in a local environment is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to learn about a place.

As for attending University in Indonesia well this turned out to be relatively close to my expectations. Four days of the week were spent in four hour class sessions. The little campus was surrounded by tropical plants and resided in a busy area of the city. Coming from such a different cultural setting I am sure that we seemed entitled at times and there was certainly a lot of ideas lost in translation. The biggest struggle with the schooling process was understanding the differences between western and other types of schooling techniques. I am used to a specific schedule/formula in school; one which is different than what I experienced in Indonesia.

During my three month stay in Jogjakarta, Indonesia I had the opportunity to help out at Stichting Jogja. While, Stichting Joga is a place for education and opportunity it is also a place for family and friendship. This organization, founded after a major disaster that left many homeless and jobless, provides free English classes for all ages and stages of life. The internship was not what I expected it to be. I thought I would find myself in a rigid environment surrounded by high profile people. What I found instead was a casual place that was very humble. This failed expectation felt a little disappointing at first but came with huge benefits and learning opportunities. I ended up being much more grateful for what I experienced and I am glad that what I had hoped for was not what happened. I was forced to take initiative in what I was doing and felt a great deal of responsibility, which is something that terrified me but is what I need in my life in order to grow. I was scared to teach but in having to do so I was able to conquer this unforeseen obstacle. The trust that was placed in me and the amount of creativity I had to use is something I never could have foreseen and it has helped me become a better person.

Upon Coming Home

Overall it is impossible to briefly sum up my experiences during my stay in Indonesia. Even as I write this I remember ten more things that happened and eight more lessons that I learned from a single moment there. Having spent a decent amount of time in Southeast Asia I felt prepared for whatever situations arose. However, I could not anticipate what life would be like living with the rules and guidelines of others. The greatest benefit I gained from my time in Indonesia was the connections I made with countless people; Connecting with a new family, peers or just making friends with local people. Since I have been home I feel as though the world is becoming increasingly smaller. Every time I go abroad I have a better understanding of the issues that seemed insurmountable in my life but are actually quite trivial. I have also learned about what things in my life should take a higher priority. Each trip I take I feel as though I gain a better understanding of human nature and the way in which people are similar all over the world. Overall I had an amazingly, positive experience and I would definitely recommend others to try and take a trip like this if ever presented with the opportunity. Of course nothing turns out as expected, hoped or feared but this is a wonderful thing that I am incredibly grateful for.

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 15:15:28

Reflection on Post Program Event

Indonesia: Before & After USINDO Summer Studies

Before I arrived in Indonesia most of what I knew about the nation and culture came from my interest in gamelan music. I understood that Central Java and West Java are of different cultural, ethnic, and linguistic heritage because those elements are reflected in those regions’ respective music. I was also familiar with the general demographic make-up, economic vitality, and certain portions of Indonesian colonial and post-colonial history.

Arriving in Indonesia, I was excited to investigate the role of tradition, and to try understand the way that idea is conceptualized, performed, and preserved. I was curious to see how it lines up with the views of tradition as understood by my American research subjects. I quickly started to understand that the idea of tradition is incredibly important among most of the Indonesian people I interacted with, but what that idea actually is differs greatly from my assumptions and understanding stemming from the Western academic context within which I work. In my studies, tradition is generally situated in terms of a paradoxical dichotomy with the modern; the traditional world came before the modern, but it wasn’t until the age of modernity that the traditional world could be identified and called as such.

Modernity is often characterized by technological advancement, a teleological narrative of history, democratic ideals, capitalism, and varying other concepts. With this view of history, tradition becomes something to maintain or preserve; it is not the site of innovation, and in fact, is its antithesis. In Indonesia, the lines are much more blurry. In the first week in Jogja, Mas Happy began a sentence with “One of my favorite composers of traditional music is . . .” To me, the notion of a composer of traditional music is a contradiction of terms; tradition is something that’s already happened and is being brought out of the past into the present. It’s not something that’s created and new. It was more baffling to me to hear the music to which he was referring, which mixed gamelan instruments and electronic instruments. The music itself wasn’t the surprise. I know such music very well. It was fact that Mas Happy still considered it—or at least spoke of it as—traditional music according to his own understanding of it. 

Later in the program, we witnessed a special lecture on interfaith relations in Indonesia presented by Abdul Gaffar Karim. Pak Karim defined two broadly defined types of Islam in Indonesia (not to be confused with sects): traditional and modern. Seeing a map illustrating where these forms were practiced, I was surprised to see he considered Java to be the place where traditional Islam is practiced, while Sumatra, Sulawesi, and other regions represented modern Islam. I asked him how these differences were considered, because the Islam I witnessed in Yogya seemed to me to be very modern and progressive. He explained that what he considered to be traditional Islam is based on the history of a cultural hybridity that is characteristic of Indonesia. As different cultures, religions, and ideas migrated across Asia and throughout Indonesia, certain things changed dramatically, such as Islam becoming the dominant religion of Java, but traces of the Island’s cultural past remained and were adapted to the new context. This is why the Wayang puppet of Krishna appears in the Keraton of Yogyakarta, and the drum the can be traced back to Hindu practices is used in Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta. It’s the very flexibility and creative ways of maintaining a connection to the past while adapting to new circumstances that he considered traditional. On the other hand, his idea of modern Islam is more congruent a way of thinking I would assume to be more traditional. His definition of modern Islam asserts that it is concerned with finding a more pure form of worship that rejects the hybridity of “traditional Islam.” Pak Karim’s way of defining the traditional and modern is turned on its head from the Western conventional definition, yet the terms are not totally switched, just adjusted. The adaptability and hybridity of culture is being considered an important traditional characteristic of Indonesian culture. 

Leaving Indonesia, I have a much more nuanced and complicated perspective of these kinds of issues, and I’m looking forward to returning and finding contrasting views as well. The desire to preserve tradition in Indonesia is stronger than it seems to be in the U.S. among average people. However, this concern does not conflict too greatly with the process of modernizing and creating new cultural forms. The music scene in Solo was described as “radical” to me by Pak Royke B. Koapaha, a West-Javanese guitarist speaking to me about gamelan, the Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival welcomes new works for gamelan by international composers, and reflects its credo “gamelan is a spirit, the instruments are only the medium.” The implications of this quote, attributed to Sapto Raharjo the festival’s founder, reflects a feeling that was palpable to me in the contemporary arts I encountered. While Indonesian artists and composers are using radical, contemporary forms and ideas reflecting their contemporary moment, it’s still rooted in the tradition that was always already happening and changing at the same time. 

Reflections on the Post- Program Event with KEMKOMINFO

The post program event in Jakarta consisted of a number of activities, including lectures by government officials, tours of local museums, monuments, and places of worship. The most interesting portion of the post-program event for me was meeting students at Indonesia University, where we had a roundtable discussion about government, culture, and international relations with the students there. The discussion was very productive and focused on a range topics determined by the interests of the students. It was interesting to see how the students’ world-views differed between the two represented cultures, particularly as a way to see my own culture through another’s eyes.

It is often quoted that the task of anthropology is to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar, and seeing the assumptions made by the Indonesian students made me realize the image that the United States projects of itself to the world is very different form the reality I experienced. For example, one Indonesian student asked if there was racism in the United States, at a moment when there is great upheaval and critical discussion about race there, and it’s actually one of the most troubling and persistent problems that need to be addressed. On the other hand, I asked a question about gamelan’s globalization, an admittedly specialized question to my field that drew surprising answers. I asked about the contemporary music scene and how composers from around the world are writing new works for gamelan, but Indonesian composers still have yet to receive much attention in this global scene. I asked about what they thought of this situation, and how Indonesia might remain relevant in a global cultural scene built on its Traditional music. However, I only received answers regarding the preservation of traditional music. Perhaps the students misunderstood my complex, specialized question, or perhaps, as it is in my own culture, people simply aren’t aware of the most radical new music being created.

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 14:30:34

Testimony from Iman, Davin Brown’s Indonesian Language Tutor

Hello! My name is Iman, and I was the (Indonesian Language) tutor for Davin Brown during the 2016 USINDO Summer Studies in Yogyakarta.

At the beginning I wasn’t confident to become a tutor for the program, I was a little worried about the cultural differences between me and the students. However, I was really glad that ILCIC Sanata Dharma did a really good job in pairing us (the tutors) with the students, in accordance with their personality.

Learning with Davin for two months didn’t feel like learning! It’s because we learn anywhere and anytime we want to! I’m really happy and proud to be able to introduce Indonesian culture, especially Yogyakarta to Davin. At the same time, I also learn about American culture from Davin.” – Iman Juniarta Raharjo, Tutor Bahasa Indonesia untuk Davin Brown.

Iman and Davin.jpeg

Bahasa Indonesia :

Halo! Nama saya Iman dan saya menjadi tutor dari Davin Brown selama Program USINDO Summer Studies 2016 di Yogyakarta.

Awalnya saya merasa kurang percaya diri untuk menjadi tutor selama program USINDO 2016 karena saya merasa kalau akan ada banyak perbedaan budaya diantara saya dan anak didik saya, tapi ternyata pihak Lembaga Bahasa Universitas Sanata Dharma juga sangat membantu dengan mencocokkan setiap kepribadian anak didik dengan para tutor yang ada.

Belajar bersama Davin selama 2 bulan juga tidak terasa sepertui belajar! Kami bisa belajar dimana saja dan kapan saja kami mau! Saya merasa senang dan bangga karena saya bisa mengenalkan budaya Indonesia, khususnya Yogyakarta, dan saya juga mempelajari berbagai budaya orang Amerika dari Davin.”

Iman (Tutor Davin).jpg

– Iman Juniarta Raharjo, Davin Brown’s Indonesian Language Tutor

Testimony from Gustav, Cole Davis’s Tutor

“Being one of the Tutor for USINDO Summer Studies Students was very memorable. I had the chance to make friends with people who came from a different culture, and together, we visited a lot of places in Jogja that we’ve never been to before.

I was the tutor for Mas Cole. He was such a nice and playful person! He often share stories about his country, from stories about food, school, transportation, music, to sports in the U.S.; I discover many new things from all of the conversations I had with him.

Mas Cole is also very mature, he helped me discover new way of thinking that motivate me to learn more.” – Yulius Gustav Ndolu, Tutor Bahasa Indonesia untuk Cole Davis.

Bahasa Indonesia:

“Menjadi Tutor untuk USINDO Summer Studies sangat berkesan, saya punya kesempatan untuk berteman dengan orang-orang yang beda budaya. Kita banyak mengunjungi tempat-tempat baru di Jogja yang belum pernah dikunjungi bareng-bareng.

Saya waktu itu menjadi tutor Mas Cole. Mas Cole sendiri orangnya baik banget dan suka bercanda! Dia sering cerita banyak hal tentang negaranya, mulai dari makanan, sekolah, transportasi, music, dan olah-raga. Saya banyak tahu hal baru dari percakapan-percakapan saya dengan dia.

Mas Cole juga sangat dewasa, melalui cerita-ceritanya, Mas Cole membuat saya lebih bersemangat untuk belajar lebih banyak lagi.”

Gustav (Tutor Cole).jpg

– Yulius Gustav Ndolu, Cole Davis’s Indonesian Language Tutor

 

 

Testimony from Deasy, Rose’s Tutor

“It’s such a pleasure to be Rose’s Indonesian Language Tutor. Rose really likes learning Indonesian Language and she’s always so eager to learn new words. I’m really happy to be able to teach and introduce Rose to Indonesian Language and Culture. I also learn a lot from Rose about the sides of Indonesia that I didn’t know before. I also learn to understand about American culture, which is quite different from Indonesian Culture.
Additionally, my English speaking ability is also developed. (From the experience of tutoring Rose) I also learn many new English words that’s not commonly used. The way I pronounce English words and my ability to arrange a sentence in English are also improved. Being Rose’s tutor is a really fun new experience. Not only did I met and get to be friends with Rose, but also with the rest of the USINDO Summer Studies Students. It’s an unforgettable experience!” – Deasy Kurnia Putri, Rose Mekdussadeerom’s Indonesian Language Tutor

Deasy and Rose

Deasy with Rose (in pink)

Bahasa Indonesia:
“Menyenangkan bisa menjadi tutor bahasa Indonesia dari Rose. Rose sangat senang belajar bahasa Indonesia dan dia sangat bersemangat untuk mempelajari kata-kata baru. Sangat menyenangkan bisa mengajarkan dan mengenalkan budaya Indonesia kepada Rose. Saya juga belajar banyak dari Rose sisi dari Indonesia yang belum saya tahu. Saya juga belajar dan memahami budaya Amerika yang sangat berbeda dengan Indonesia.

Kemampuan berbicara bahasa Inggris saya juga berkembang. Lebih banyak tahu tentang kosakata baaru yang asing dan jarang digunakan di Indonesia, cara pengucapan saya juga menjadi lebih baik dan kemampuan penyusunan kata saya dalam bahasa Inggris juga berkembang. Menjadi tutor Rose adalah pengalaman baru yang sangat menyenangkan. Tidak hanya bertemu dan bersahabat dengan Rose, tetapi juga dengan 11 peserta USINDO lainnya adalah pengalaman yang tidak terlupakan!”  – Deasy Kurnia Putri, Tutor Bahasa Indonesia Rose Mekdussadeerom.

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Deasy (Tutor Rose)

Deasy Kurnia Putri

 

Video Montage of 2016 USINDO Summer Studies Participants`

Here is some of video and photo montage that created by 2016 Usindo Summer Studies Participants`. Check this one out.

The first one is come from Megan Whiteman and Davin Brown.

 

The second one is a video from Carrie, Michelle Armer, Michelle Schatz, dan Cole.

 

Third video is from Allie, Julie, and Rose!
Screenshot from 2016-08-30 16:21:48

The last is video by  Ashley Du and Jay Arms, here it goes.

A Whole New World

Tear drops slithered down my face, one after another as ‘Kali Kedua’ (‘The Second Time’), a track by Raisa, a popular Indonesian singer was playing on my iPod while I was on the plane, departing from the cultural city of Yogyakarta where my fellow Americans and I have spent two and a half months studying bahasa Indonesia at. There I was, wishing that I could return to that magical place for the second time. Studying the local language we did, and that greatly helped us in establishing relations with the local people during the course of our limited time in the Southeast Asian nation. If someone were to ask me what I miss most about Indonesia, however, I would definitely have to honestly reply, the people; the uber amiable and hospitable Indonesians whom I have had the privilege of bertemu-ing (which in my brain translates to ‘meeting’ as I struggle not to use Indonesian upon my recent return to American soil, but Indonesian manages to slip out and into my daily attempts of self-expression somehow) will be something that will remain engrained in my cherished memories for as long as I live.

On (A Different Kind of) Diversity

Having spent my teenage years growing up in Baltimore, Maryland and attending university at the nation’s capital, I was no stranger to the diversity that existed among the people in the aforementioned East coast cities. After I have spent a bit over two months in Indonesia, however, I realised that the country was as diverse as the American melting pot back home, but it was a berbeda (different) kind of diversity though – one that was perhaps less manifested in terms of appearance and accents but more in terms of localities and religions. For instance, most orang asing (foreigners) like myself would not necessarily know that an Indonesian is from this one town on this one island simply by looking at him or her unlike in America, where an individual may look Indian, but he or she may actually be from Indianapolis.

Beyond Hospitality

One extraordinary trait that I have found the majority of Indonesians possess is their warm and welcoming demeanour towards foreigners. From the host families on the island of Java whom I have spent my summer with to the locals on the island of Lombok whom I have never met before in my life, both were almost always willing to lend a hand and go beyond the definition of hospitality, especially in situations where most typical Americans will hesitate to offer help when they see someone, let alone foreigners in need. (To our defence, the culture of liability and suing is more prevalent in American than in Indonesia, but still – you get my point.)

The Young, Wild and (Relatively) Free

This last note concerns the lives of typical Indonesian youths who primarily reside in the college town of Yogyakarta based on my observations during my time there. Like most of my fellow USINDO Summer Studies participants, I found the pervasiveness of Western, namely American music in Indonesia, especially among the youth to be astounding. What do I mean? For instance, an Indonesian teenager can sing perfectly and effortlessly to ‘Back that Ass Up’ despite speaking broken English in real life – a phenomenon not uncommon in Indonesia. Moreover, most young Indonesians whom I have interacted with dated freely but not as wildly as American youths, if you know what I mean. Granted, some Indonesian families are stricter than others, depending on the family’s religion in a good number of cases, but in general, Indonesian youths of today are of course young, not as wild as the typical American teenager, and relatively free to say and do as they please.

Rose’s Testimony for the Two-Day Post Programme Event in Jakarta

The post programme event brought into perspective the views of representatives of the Indonesian public sector that complemented our experience in Indonesia as a whole since we have already spent the majority of our time interacting with the Indonesian people, mostly youths in the relatively liberal city of Yogyakarta. Thus, it was nice to hear from what the people running the country had to say after having spent some time getting to know its people.

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 14:52:06

An Opinion About USINDO-KOMINFO Program

Pada tanggal 1-2 Augustus 2016, USINDO Fellows perjalanan ke Jakarta untuk Program KEMKOMINFO-USINDO. Untuk dua hari, kami bertemu dengan government officials dan visited tempat-tempat wisata.

Ketika kami tiba ke Jakarta dari Yogyakarta, kami pertama pergi ke Balaikota DKI dan belajar tentang Jakarta Smart City. Di sana, karyawan berbicara tentang app Qlue dan program to address citizen complaints. Kemudian, kami pergi ke Hotel Millenium di mana KEMKOMINFO set up a forum dengan Nezar Patria (Anggota Dewan Pers), Selamatta Sembiring (Layanan Informasi Internasional), dan KPI Pusat. Mereka berbicara tentang freedom of the press di Indonesia setelah revolusi 1998 (Law No. 40/1999), internet usage throughout the archipelago, dan censoring media. Setelah itu, kami pergi ke Gereja Katedral dan Masjid Istiqlal di mana kami belajar tentang harmony beragama di antara dua religious institutions. Hari ini sangat lama dan sangat informatif.

Pada hari kedua, kami perjalanan ke Kota Tua di mana kami pergi ke Museum Wayang dan Museum Sejarah Jakarta. Di Museum Wayang, kami belajar tentang sejarah wayang dan berlatih membuat wayang janur. Di Museum Sejarah Jakarta, kami belajar tentang pendudukan Belanda dan forces VOC. Kami melihat kondisi prison untuk perempuan dan laki-laki. Kemudian, kami pergi ke Monumen Nasional di mana KOMINFO set up a tur private untuk kami.

Kami belajar tentang independence Indonesia dan melihat views indah kota. Setelah itu, kami perjalanan ke Universitas Indonesia. Di sana, kami bertemu dengan dosen-dosen dan mahasiswa-mahasiswa dan diskusi isu-isu sosial dan politik di Amerika dan Indonesia. Saya bertemu banyak mahasiswa pintar dan passionate dan berbicara tentang fighting against human rights abuses to move our countries forward. Activitas favorit saya adalah pertemuan ini.

Overall, the program was a massive success, and I am very grateful to KOMINFO for working so hard to create such a detailed program for us. The facilities and food were spectacular and the meetings were very informative.

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Screenshot from 2016-06-17 14:57:53