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Dear Indonesia students,

Glad to hear a few of your voices on the Yak board and we’d love to hear from the rest of you! We wanted to make a few minor updates to the packing list included in your Course Preparation Manual. These updates are based on feedback from our summer student group as well as changes in our itinerary from last semester.

  • Pleasebring 1-2 “nice” outfits that you can wear for certain visits we have planned in Jogjakarta. This does not mean “formal” by any means, but rather something other than quick-dry shirts and zip-off pants for when we’re in our more urban home-stays. For example:

o Girls: Long skirts (full-length), blouses, etc. Remember all clothing must be MODEST

o Boys: Khakis/slacks or comfortable pants, button up shirt or something with a collar

o You can also buy beautiful “batik” and traditional outfits in Indonesia that would serve this purpose. Jeans are appropriate as well, but can be heavy and hot. The basic idea is to bring a couple of things to wear other than the “trekking look.”

  • Bring warmer layers. The packing list says this is optional, but since we are now spending more time in some cooler climates (e.g., Toraja), we strongly advise bringing a few layers. A fleece, long sleeve shirt, rain jacket, and if you really get cold easily, thermal underwear, should be considered.
  • A sleeping sheet is fine for most, but if you get cold easily, consider a lightweight sleeping bag (the lightest available…50 degree+)
  • Bring a ground pad/thermarest
  • We will be purifying and boiling water, which can sometimes change the flavor of the water. If you know you are picky with water that may have a slight iodine or earthy flavor (you know who you are:), then please bring some flavoring powder packets to mix-in (e.g., Gatorade, vitamin water, Tang, etc…there’s a bunch of powders out there). It’s important everyone stays hydrated!
  • Bring 2 water bottles. (packing list says 1, but 2 is preferable).
  • Especially for vegetarians or those on special diets, please consider bringing supplemental protein bars (10-20 bars). These will be for a couple portions of our trips with more limited food choices (e.g., jungle time).
  • Practice proactive self-care! Once one person gets a cold in the group, it can spread like wildfire. Let’s work on keeping ourselves healthy by bringing the following (not manadatory, but strongly suggested):

o Multivitamins or other supplements. The diet will be different than what you’re used to, so it’s good to ensure we’re still getting all the nutrients we need.

o Emergen-C or some other immune booster. Great for when the group cold comes a knockin’

o Pro-biotics, grapefruit seed extract, or any other proactive supplements for your gut. Some have better luck than others with these things, but worth considering (optional)

  • Bring photos of yourself and family! I know it sounds strange, but photos from back home make great home-stay gifts. Bring multiple copies of family photos or things that tell a story about your life back home.
  • If you’re thinking about home-stay gift ideas, remember that items with connections to your family or home resonate with Indonesian culture. Also, small items like erasers, pencils, or other useful items are good gifts for children.
  • MP3s and electronic devices: We've had lots of questions about these items. While we are not expressly prohibiting electronic devices, your instructors will let you know when they are appropriate to use. We may also collect these devices if they distract from our ability to be present in Indonesia. What we do not want is for you to go into a home-stay, pop in your ear buds, and tune out of the experience. Similarly, even our longest and most arduous travel days can hold some of the most amazing and unexpected cultural interactions, but we need to keep our eyes and ears open to engage those unplanned moments. And while students often think that music prevents home-sickness, we actually find the opposite: music can remind us of home in ways that actually create home-sickness. In short, if you chose to bring an MP3 player, plan to use it sparingly. We want to challenge you to engage Indonesia and this experience to the fullest.
  • THANKS FOR READING! You'll be getting a call from one of us in the next 10 days to check-in and answer any last minute packing question. Or, you can always call Aaron at our offices: 303-413-0822. Happy packing!

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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IMPORTANT: Packing Updates

Instructors,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Dear Indonesia students, Glad to hear a few of your voices on the Yak board and we’d love to hear from the rest of you! We wanted to make a few minor updates to the packing list included in your Course Preparation Manual. These updates are based on feedback from our summer student group as […]

Posted On

08/26/12

Author

Instructors

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Hello Dragons!

My name is Eliza, and I'm from Seattle, WA. I graduated highschool in 2011 and have been working at a natural dyes and textiles studio and traveling for the past year. Ive been up and down the east coast, part of the west and a little in the middle. I am currently doing my best not to explode with excitement for this upcomming trip! The more I read the yakyak the more excited I get about meeting all of you! To say a little about myself...I visualize for a passtime. I love art of all kinds and I tend to see it everywhere (even where its not inteded to be seen). I love music, journaling, backpacking and hackeysack. (For those of you who like it too, im bringing one!) I can't wait for all the upcomming new experiences and to meet all of you!

Eliza

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Hey Dragons!

Eliza Culhane,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hello Dragons! My name is Eliza, and I’m from Seattle, WA. I graduated highschool in 2011 and have been working at a natural dyes and textiles studio and traveling for the past year. Ive been up and down the east coast, part of the west and a little in the middle. I am currently doing […]

Posted On

08/26/12

Author

Eliza Culhane

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Dear Students and Dragons Community,

What we present here is the tentative framework for our semester adventures together. At Dragons, we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible so that we can take advantage of unexpected opportunities on the ground and best shape the trip to your unique interests. Moreover, as you will soon learn, travel in Indonesia is not an exact science and we’ll all soon become Indonesian travel yogis able to bend, stretch, and most importantly, breathe with the flexible schedules of Indonesian life. In fact, Indonesians often refer to jam karet, which literally translates to “rubber time.” Without further adieu, enjoy reading about the people and places we plan to encounter over the coming months…

Weeks 1-5

Our semester will begin in the cultural and artistic heart of the island of Java, the city of Yogyakarta. Rising like a sentinel over the rice fields, it is said that the sacred volcano Mount Merapi is the source of a line of power that connects the Northern reaches of Yogyakarta to the gods of the sea off the southern coast. Between these two points lies the palace of Yogyakarta’s Sultan, a beloved figure who embodies the perspective of a people who practice a form of Islam that absorbed elements of early Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms. A dynamic center of cultural preservation and learning, the modern and the ancient mingle on Yogyakarta’s streets, where a diverse community from points all over Indonesia mix in a social world informed by the Javanese philosophy of living.

Home to several universities, including the oldest university in Indonesia and the country’s premiere art institute, there is no place better to learn about art and culture through experience. The ritual crafts of the gamelan orchestra, Javanese dance, and shadow puppet theatre continue to be performed for the surrounding community as they have been for centuries, a window into how the national language students learn is one of a cacophony tongues that mingle in everyday communication.

After our initial week of orientation, students (yes, thats you:))will begin their 4 week homestay with local families and their Independent Study Projects with local experts in this vibrant city. Here in Yogya, we will lay the foundation for the trip with intensive language instruction, meetings and discussions with local community figures and organizations, and a myriad of applicable lessons that will become important scaffolding for understanding various religious, political, historical and cultural contexts in Indonesia. On the weekends, we will have the opportunity to venture off for excursions in and around Central Java, and spend more time exploring with our homestay families.

From Jogjakarta, we embark on 5-6 weeks of rugged travel and adventure to Eastern Indonesia. We will be traveling to the far reaches of Sulawesi and Maluku for an extraordinary exchange with at least three distinct communities, cultures, and landscapes. We will travel by sea, by land, and by air as we traverse this vast archipelago.

Weeks 5-8

We will begin our travel adventure in the far eastern region of Maluku. Joined by our wonderful community contacts and journeying to the island of Seram in the North Maluku Province, we will travel through the port city of Masohi, a powerful example of the complex relationship between Islam and Christianity in Indonesia, and a city that was strongly affected by religious conflict in 1999- 2000.

From Masohi, we head overland to the northern coast, through the Manusela National Park, to the village of Masihulan. We will begin our time there with a trek into the jungle and three days living in a riverside jungle camp. We will be accompanied by five local guides, several of whom will be our host fathers. In the jungle, we will hike, explore a cave, enjoy aquamarine river waters, learn about the history of bird poaching in Masihulan. There will be opportunities to night hunt for a small tree-dwelling marsupial called kuskus and other jungle creatures with our guides who are masters with the bow and spear. While we’re learning how to set traps, catching prawns and eel in the river by moonlight, or visiting an impressive waterfall, we’ll hear the stories from the talented men of the Masihulan community whose way of life is complicated by the government’s management of the natural resources they depend on.

From the jungle, we will hike to the village of Masihulan and begin our homestay experience with our new families. During our time here, we will learn about the unique history of Maluku, religious and spiritual traditions and practices in Masihulan and their place in the larger framework of Indonesia and current issues of national representation. We’ll explore traditional modes of healing, and the unique history and relationship that exists between the Protestants of Masihulan with the neighboring Muslim community of Sawai. While in Masihulan, we’ll have the opportunity to try our hands at sago processing, bow and arrow making and food cultivation in the jungle. From Masihulan, we will visit the neighboring community of Sawai and stay in a short homestay in this seaside fishing village. Here we will learn about the village's history, its expression of Islam and practices of daily life.

Weeks 8-10

Our travels onward from Maluku will take us westward. The province of Wakitobi in Southeast Sulawesi contains the Tong Besi archipelago, the location of an extraordinary national marine park. It’s also home to several communities of the Bajau people (sometimes referred to as “sea nomads”), who traditionally lived the majority of their lives on boats. We’ll be welcomed into one of the few Bajau communities in the area that continue to live on sea in a community built on coral atolls called Sampela. Here we will be hosted under the tutelage of our local host Pak Iskandar Halim (Andar) and his wife Saipa (who will serve us delicious meals, the mere thought of which is making my mouth water as I type this). Staying in simple stilt houses built over the water, we will have the opportunity to join members of the community and our families in their daily fishing practices, harvesting of coral and sea cucumbers, visits to the nearby market, and daily activities. We will learn firsthand about the unique worldview and lifestyle of the Bajau and their deep-rooted and inextricable connection to the ocean, and how that lifestyle connects to their centuries old practices of Islam. We will snorkel each day on the rainbow colored reefs in the nearby waters of their village, and have the opportunity to critically examine and discuss important issues surrounding environmental and cultural conservation. Our life at sea is sure to be punctuated by numerous dance parties with gaggles of children, hours of porch sitting with our families in the noon day sun, strolls along the boardwalks, and star gazing nights.

Weeks 10-12

From our stilted village in the ocean, we will say goodbye and travel to Tana Toraja, a region of the southern highlands of Sulawesi. High in the green and misty peaks of this mountainous region, we’ll be exposed to a culture that remained isolated long after the arrival of Dutch colonizers to other parts of the island. As a result, Torajan every-day life is still strongly steeped in the traditional cosmology called Aluk To Dolo, which is reflected in everything from the elaborately carved tongkonan traditional houses shaped like ships, to the modern practices of Protestant Christianity. Living in homestays with members of the extended family of one our instructors, we’ll see why the Torajans are famed for their funerary practices that feature week-long ceremonies and ritual animal sacrifice, and why the Torajans have a unique perspective on the boundary between this life and the next world. The physical death of loved ones does not signify the end of a person’s involvement with the family or community in Toraja, something we will experience as we participate in funerary preparations and ceremonies. In Toraja, we’ll witness how the dead can ‘eat’ and ‘walk’, and how life’s greatest social achievements happen after you’ve moved on to the next world. We’ll see how important life-rituals are tied to the local economy through the buffalo trade, an animal sacred to local people, and get a chance to create some traditional arts like weaving and carving that now serve as a source of income for many families. During our trek through rural regions of mountain forests that give way to dizzying views of seemingly impossible horizontal rice-terraces, our guides will explain the ancient laws of the ancestors and expose a landscape full of spirits, magic, and the influence of the world of the dead.

Week 12-13

Tana Toraja will send us back to Java, to Jogjakarta, to the place where we began. Returning to the beginning point of our adventure will be a powerful mirror, allowing us to really see how far we have come and what we have experienced. Our final week of the program will be dedicated to looking back at the passage we have taken, as well as forward, towards home. We will spend this week focusing on synthesis, integration, preparation, and celebration.

On December 10th, you will board a plane bound for the US. Who will you be then?

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Tentative Itinerary for Fall 2012

Kelli, Sarah, and Aaron,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Dear Students and Dragons Community, What we present here is the tentative framework for our semester adventures together. At Dragons, we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible so that we can take advantage of unexpected opportunities on the ground and best shape the trip to your unique interests. Moreover, as you will soon learn, travel in […]

Posted On

08/22/12

Author

Kelli, Sarah, and Aaron

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Hey Cassidy (and all)

Thanks for reminding us about the importance of getting our voices heard in the upcoming US election! Lots of folks here are asking me about what will happen with this presidential election, as they consider Obama to be at least a little bit Indonesian - he went to primary school in Jakarta for a while, and his mother was an anthropologist and activist who researched here in Java for many years!

There are two options for you to vote, depending on your state: You can either vote early before you leave, or vote with an absentee ballot. Here's some information about how to find out which method your state allows:

http://sarahlynnpablo.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/how-do-i-vote-in-the-us-presidential-election-if-i-am-traveling-overseas-on-election-day/

Cheers,

Kelli

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Answer to Cassidy’s question about voting

Kelli Swazey ,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hey Cassidy (and all) Thanks for reminding us about the importance of getting our voices heard in the upcoming US election! Lots of folks here are asking me about what will happen with this presidential election, as they consider Obama to be at least a little bit Indonesian – he went to primary school in […]

Posted On

08/22/12

Author

Kelli Swazey

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-I didn't see Bali in the unfinished itinerary, are we planning on going there?

-Regarding our independent study project, I was wondering if there is such opportunities involving coral farming?

-We should not bring any tanks right?

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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A few questions

Scout Vernon,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

-I didn’t see Bali in the unfinished itinerary, are we planning on going there? -Regarding our independent study project, I was wondering if there is such opportunities involving coral farming? -We should not bring any tanks right?

Posted On

08/22/12

Author

Scout Vernon

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My name is Scout, I live in Boulder, CO and can't wait for our trip together. I chose this trip because I love to travel and have never been to that side of the world, also I'm interested in studying a field similar to ocean conservation so this program looked fantastic. I play basketball and run track, and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. I think traveling is a much more effective way to learn so that is why I am taking this year off, but after I plan to go to college in California.I am hoping we can fit in some surfing, hiking and possibly scuba diving in throughout the trip.

Can't wait for our adventure!

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Hello

Scout Vernon,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

My name is Scout, I live in Boulder, CO and can’t wait for our trip together. I chose this trip because I love to travel and have never been to that side of the world, also I’m interested in studying a field similar to ocean conservation so this program looked fantastic. I play basketball and […]

Posted On

08/20/12

Author

Scout Vernon

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    [post_date] => 2012-08-17 00:00:00
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I'm wondering if it will be possible to vote while we are in Indonesia. I've just turned 18 and would really like to get my two cents in.

Thanks,

Cass

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Voting

Cassidy Schultz,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

I’m wondering if it will be possible to vote while we are in Indonesia. I’ve just turned 18 and would really like to get my two cents in. Thanks, Cass

Posted On

08/17/12

Author

Cassidy Schultz

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    [post_date] => 2012-08-14 00:00:00
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Hey everybody!

My name's Pete and I'm from Atherton, CA. I graduated high school in June and plan on attending the University of Richmond in VA next fall. I wasn't really expecting to take a gap year until the end of this past spring, but the more I read up on programs like Dragons, the more I wanted to put college on hold for awesome experiences like those we'll have soon. I've never done a Dragons course but I love traveling and the outdoors so the upcoming trip sounds incredible. I'm a huge sports fan, particularly of SF bay area teams, and played lacrosse and football in high school. I also like skiing, writing comedy, and asian food (which I'll definitely benefit from). Pumped to meet all of you and get started!

Pete

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Intro from Pete

Pete Foster,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Hey everybody! My name’s Pete and I’m from Atherton, CA. I graduated high school in June and plan on attending the University of Richmond in VA next fall. I wasn’t really expecting to take a gap year until the end of this past spring, but the more I read up on programs like Dragons, the […]

Posted On

08/14/12

Author

Pete Foster

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Indo Dragons -

I just wanted to share this article that recently appeared in the Jakarta Post, the country's main English-language newspaper. One point of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is to engage in self-reflection. This article follows the theme of reflecting on the holy month of Ramadan and Idul Fitri, but introduces some of the issues around religion in this multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. It will likely raise more questions than it answers, but I think it speaks about the complexity of tradition, relation and religion and how real, everyday relationships here often exceed those boundaries.

By the way ... A Muslim mom is waiting for her Catholic son in heaven

Paper Edition | Page: 1

As Idul Fitri is only a week away, the memory of my foster parents becomes more vivid. For me as a child, Ramadhan and Idul Fitri meant abundant and lavish meals and firecrackers, a combination of luxury my father could not provide at that time as I had too many siblings while his salary as a teacher was a lot lower than you might imagine.

Accompanying them to the mosque for tarawih evening prayers during Ramadhan meant I had a chance to buy sweets. My adoptive father was not fluent in reciting the Koran, because he was illiterate. That was one of the reasons I knew little about the holy book.

The farmer combined the teachings of Islam with Javanese traditions. They never forced me to fast but always insisted on providing the most delicious food in our village for our breaking of the fast.

Although they had little knowledge of the Koran, they taught me many things about good moral values, like honesty and hard work.

“Don’t take other children’s toys even if they don’t know about it,” my adoptive father said every time he saw me with new toys.

My mother — if not I am mistaken her name was Tukiyem, a lower class name — often brought me to the market. And every time we walked in front of my house, I shouted at my younger brother just to make him feel jealous. Even now his issues of jealousy against me remain.

Tukiyem called me putu [grandson] and always talked in the Javanese language. She described me as an endless source of joy to her but up to now I still have limited skill in her native language.

They circumcised me but I can not remember at all whether they also organized a party to celebrate my circumcision. What I still do remember is that my circumcision often became an endless source of jokes among friends when we met at the public baths, because the practice was totally unknown among the Batak Christians, the majority in my hometown of Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra.

I was only four years old when my parents accepted the offer of adoption. My two elder brothers had died not long after their births, I suspect because of malnutrition. Following an old tradition, they opted to hand me over to the childless couple.

Those who think they have the full right to speak on behalf of God and to declare other people infidels and therefore immediately destined to be dragged to hell after their deaths may condemn my parents and my adopted parents as “Number One Infidels in the History of Mankind”. You know why?

I was baptized as Catholic just a few months after my birth. My parents however allowed Tukiyem and her husband to bring me to the mosque, which was far from their house.

As we lived in the same village, they also prepared my Sunday school and let my parents take me to church. So I grew up as a Catholic and went to Catholic school [my father was its principal], while Tukiyem and her husband taught me about the values of life from the perspective of Islam and Javanese culture.

Until now I don’t know whether the fact that once in my life I had “two” religions has been good or bad for me. But one thing, until now I can sense the beauty of the two religions and cultures. You can check the truth with my friends, but I think I grew up as a tolerant person, who learned a lot from the beauty of Islam while always sticking to my Catholic religion.

The Bible does not recognize the Prophet Muhammad, while the Koran does not recognize Jesus as the Son of God but acknowledges him as a prophet. My brain is just too small and my IQ and EQ are too low to understand such huge mysteries. One thing is certain, through my foster parents, the values of the Koran also became a part of my life.

Muslim friends often laughed at me because I was busier than them in preparing the breaking of the fast even though I was not fasting. My lovely childhood memories lay behind this “weird” behavior.

And in my childhood, I had a dream of having a Javanese wife, as I saw Tukiyem was more “obedient” and “patient” as a wife compared to my Batak mom.

My wife is a Batak. No, I do not still have an “unaccomplished mission” in my marital journey (I am afraid my wife might read this column).

I heard the illiterate couple had died few decades ago and were buried in Langkat regency, North Sumatra. I did try to find their whereabouts.

They left our village a few years after the alleged coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) on Sept. 30, 1965.

Sometimes they visited me when I was still at elementary school but totally disappeared after that. Their relatives refused to disclose their address at that time, apparently they worried my parents might try to get some of Tukiyem’s wealth.

Happy Idul Fitri to my mom Tukiyem and my father (I never did learn his name). I do believe you are now in heaven as a good Muslim couple and I hope I will meet you as a Catholic in heaven.

Anyway, the circumcision has been your eternal legacy to me.

— Kornelius Purba

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Religion, Identity and family in Indonesia, Ramadan 2012

Kelli Swazey ,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Indo Dragons – I just wanted to share this article that recently appeared in the Jakarta Post, the country’s main English-language newspaper. One point of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is to engage in self-reflection. This article follows the theme of reflecting on the holy month of Ramadan and Idul Fitri, but introduces some […]

Posted On

08/13/12

Author

Kelli Swazey

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Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke

berjarjar pulau-pulau

Sambung menyambung jadi satu

itulah Indonesia

From Sabang to Merauke

islands in a line

uniting into one

that’s Indonesia

http://beingindonesian.com/

Indonesia. Every time I write about it, the story changes. Every time I return to places I’ve been, I find something new. Who could ever get bored with over 17,000 islands and 726 distinct languages under the banner of one nation? It’s home to the largest Muslim population in the world, yet ruled by a secular constitution that guarantees the right to individual beliefs. It’s a developed nation that has more citizens on Facebook than there are people in Canada, where you can debate the differences between Western and Asian democracies while sipping on a type of traditional health drink so old it’s featured on the walls on of a 7th century Buddhist monument in central Java. Here in the city of Yogyakarta, gong orchestras recount centuries-old Hindu epics in a tradition that has been passed down through countless generations, but their music and morals are also featured by one of the nation’s most popular hip-hop ensembles. Traditional Islamic educational institutions called pesantren have been in existence here for hundreds of years, but our city is also home to first pesantren in the world for transgender Muslims. To speak of ‘Indonesia’ is to encompass a startling diversity of histories, lifeways, beliefs, geographies, and practices that defy easy categorization, and challenge common perceptions about what a “modern” nation should look like.

Too many, Indonesia evokes images of exotic wilderness, remote tribal peoples, and mysterious cultural rituals that seem obscured in the mists of some primordial past. These images capture, in part, the reality of a chain of islands that contains some of the most breathtaking geographic and cultural diversity on the face of the globe. Yet like photos in a glossy magazine, they also lack dimension and depth, telling us little of dynamic and modern context from which they come. I’ve just returned from the dusun of Masihulan, where the destiny of 60 families is entwined with the surrounding jungle that is both their source of food and their identity. It’s easy to fall into the romantic notions of the noble savage – people who live simply, untouched by the forces of urban centers like Jakarta, their lives uncomplicated by larger political issues. As we discovered, this kind of romanticization simplifies the real stories and struggles of people who live far from the center but whose lives are tangled up with politics and practices of the central government. That their livelihoods are drawn from the jungle makes them particularly susceptible to how the government manages natural resources, but simultaneously makes their stories, and their lives, deemed less important than the lives of those who don’t depend on those resources daily.

I hope that what we can discover is how ‘their’ stories are actually our stories too. This was the lesson that has stayed with me since I first set foot on Indonesian soil eleven years ago. My plan to travel around Southeast Asia in the months after the events of September 11th was a catalyst for people’s fear and uncertainty, leading both strangers and friends at home to caution me that the world was not a safe place for Americans, especially when it came to ‘Muslim’ countries. When I arrived in Indonesia, nervous and unsure of how people would react to my presence, the most common question I was asked, from island to island, in city cafes and the simple homes of farmers, was “why do you hate us?” Where I had expected anger, I found genuine puzzlement, concern, and the very real result of the discourse of American essentialism. What people were saying in the United States had rippled outward across the world, been interpreted, and was being used interpret me. I was unprepared to explain to most of the people that I met that not only did I not hate them, but that I knew almost nothing about them. This brought about the realization that I needed to rethink how where I came from influenced, and would continue to influence, my interactions with others half a world from home. Instead of just recognizing that the larger context of world politics and diplomatic relations was coded into how we thought about each other, I also began to consider that improving those interactions required me to examine some of the tacit (unconscious) assumptions that were part of my cultural upbringing. Not just so I could move us beyond the question that bothered me so much, but also so we could have better discussions about how that question came about and the assumptions it contained. Even, perhaps, to change them.

It’s a process that for me that has no foreseeable end. Eleven years later, I’m still thinking about how we understand who we are in relation to others, in an ever-changing flow of circumstances. Classification is a basic part of human social interaction. It is influenced not only by our individual selves but also in our participation in larger shared ideas that we call “culture”. One of the challenges we face as global citizens is not only in recognizing that people classify things differently, but in understanding that power comes from the ability to claim that your way of classifying things is the only way, the ‘right’ way, or the authoritative way. In other words, is it possible for us to recognize that the world is populated by different perspectives, without needing to claim that ours is the only one that has the right to exist?

In Indonesia, these questions are essential to the future of a diverse citizenry. As a lecturer in a religious studies program at one of the oldest universities in Indonesia, admitting a diversity of perspectives is the first step in finding a common ground from which we can decide on the direction of a shared future. Recently, I marched in solidarity with residents of the city of Yogyakarta to demand that the government protect people’s right to have different opinions, not just between groups, but within them. Students involved in this effort wanted to point out that what it means to be “Muslim” is always in negotiation, and no one group has the right to insist that their version of Islam is the only one. More abstractly, they are asking questions that are essential to all of us: who has the right to represent the ‘identities’ (religious, national, ethnic) that we belong to? How do we deal with diverse interpretations within one religious and moral system? What’s the best way to approach conflict and disagreement over those life-practices that we feel define us? How can we live together if we don’t always agree on everything? What role do political institutions and civil society organizations play in building a system that works for the benefit of more than one group? I am certain that these questions are not just about what’s going on in Indonesia, but about what human societies are facing everywhere, everyday, at this moment in time.

It is an incredible time to be in Indonesia, as people are redefining what that word means, and what it means to them. The country’s third democratic Presidential elections are approaching, and issues of religion, indigenous land rights, government corruption and the continued utility of the idea of “Indonesia” since the country started to decentralize in 2001 are on everyone’s minds. All of the communities we visit have personal, visceral stakes in these debates, and all of them feel somehow that their voices aren’t entirely heard in these important conversations about the future of the nation, and their futures. Your presence, and attention to these issues, will contribute to the process of discovering what Indonesia is today, and will be in the future. I urge you to come ready to sing for causes that you didn’t even know could be yours, and to be challenged to stand in the midst of uncertain issues that have no easy solutions.

The link above leads to the website “dari Sabang ke Merauke” (from Sabang to Merauke) where you’ll find some great images from across the Indonesian archipelago. Also, check out the online publication Inside Indonesia for some short reads on current political and social happenings. If something catches your eye and you want to explore further, I am happy to chat with you about further reading and additional resources, or just share with you what I’ve learned in my eleven years of living and studying here. I can be reached at swazey@hawaii.edu to correspond in writing or to set up time to chat over skype.

Here in Jogja (the short name for Yogyakarta, whichis always pronounced as if the y was aj),the streets are becoming quiet as the Idul Fitri holiday approaches. Students from the city’s many universities will be making the pilgrimage to their homes across the country to celebrate the Muslim “Day of Victory” with their families and neighbors. In the evenings, as purple dusk descends over the rice fields, Mt. Merapi appears stark and giant on the horizon. Its ancient presence reminds me of the weight of history in Indonesia’s present, and the power of the unseen world which acts on people’s lives and shapes the decisions they make. It’s a world that’s not reducible to political explanations or Western ‘logic’. I hope that when you arrive, you too will feel the presence of Indonesia’s other landscapes and the possibility of other worlds, however they are revealed to you.

Salam dan sugeng rawuh ke petualanganmu! (Greetings and welcome to your adventure!)

Kelli Swazey

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Sugeng Rawuh from the DIY – Daerah Istemewa Yogyakarta

Kelli Swazey ,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke berjarjar pulau-pulau Sambung menyambung jadi satu itulah Indonesia From Sabang to Merauke islands in a line uniting into one that’s Indonesia http://beingindonesian.com/ Indonesia. Every time I write about it, the story changes. Every time I return to places I’ve been, I find something new. Who could ever get bored with over […]

Posted On

08/12/12

Author

Kelli Swazey

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