“Everyone walks through life but it is those who look to learn from people coming from different walks of life that travel the farthest…”

This time “farthest” for me meant moving to Indonesia. Why Indonesia of all places? It wasn’t necessarily because its the largest island archipelago, home to more than 17,000 islands or because it hosts some of the best diving and surfing spots in the world. On the contrary, Indonesia became my “teaching grounds” for understanding how a country so big and with the largest Muslim population could be so ethnically diverse on every island. Over time and throughout centuries, Indonesia welcomed Arabs, the Chinese, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and many more cultures. All these interactions not only influenced  the food in Indonesia but the language as well. Bahasa Indonesia is one of the few languages that currently uses words borrowed from Arabic, Portuguese, Dutch, Malay, and English to name a few. To witness this transformation even at a microcosmic level, that is as an individual, has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

Empu Tantular’s poetic stanza “Bhinneka Tunggal lka” describes another one of my motivations for studying in Indonesia at the Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta.  One of the remarkable messages of this poem advocates for tolerance between Hindus and Buddhists. The main message that I gathered from this was that social differences in daily life should never affect national unity and integrity. After living here for six months, I can say that religious tolerance doesn’t just exist amongst Hindus and Buddhists but amongst all religions.

My quest to learn more about Indonesian culture began the moment I stepped into the Consulate of Indonesia in New York. Immediately, I laid eyes on Javanese puppets, “wayang golek” and beautiful old paintings, reflecting the mystical ambiance of the paradise island of Bali. At that time, I was fortunate to meet the Consul of Indonesia, the Honorable Miss Trie Mulyani. After introducing me to Kapal Api, an Indonesian popular coffee brand Miss Mulyani and I toured the Indonesian Consulate. Moments later, I was certain that I wanted to discover Indonesia.  At our meeting she mentioned the Darmasiswa Program, an initiative aimed at fostering relationships between different countries in the world and Indonesia through educational and cultural experiences.

As she explained the program to me, I stared at the emblem of the Garuda Pancasila. In it, I read Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” which means “Unity within diversity”. Immediately, my curiosity and desire to be able to communicate with Indonesians who have a strong sense of culture, pride and history turned into “firasat” or a “gut feeling” that applying for the Darmasiswa Program was the right program for me. When I look back at my journey, I know that Indonesians from different walks of life have taught me many valuable lessons.  From Pak Radnadi who owns a shop next to my boarding house or “kos” to Pak Fuad who sells Bakso, an Indonesian meatball soup from his small four wheeled wooden cart from 10pm until 12am, I have traveled endless miles sharing and learning from their stories. I can only hope that anyone who reads Hyperfluent’s posts can enjoy and be motivated to make their own trail, share their stories, and travel endlessly…

The Honorable Consul Miss Trie Mulyani

To find out more information about the Darmasiswa Program, I encourage you to visit its website:
Darmasiswa Scholarship.

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