Let me introduce you, Indonesia!

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All performers at ICF Chiayi. Source: Author's documentation.

Fefi, one of our contributors this month, shows what “Embracing Your Roots Beyond Borders” means. While doing her master study, she actively took many opportunities to introduce the Indonesian cultures to the world, through the Indonesian dances, songs, competitions and cuisines! Let us read her story on embracing the Indonesian roots wherever you are.

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Hello, I am Fefi, I was born in Jember, East Java (Indonesia). I’m a Master Student in the Life Sciences Faculty, National Chiayi University (Taiwan). Doing a master study abroad was one of my goals. When I first came to Taiwan, there were many things that impressed me, such as transportation, technology and language. I live in Chiayi City where Muslim is a minority. Nevertheless, Chiayi City is quite friendly for tourists. I plan to stay here around 2 years to complete my study.

Fefi Eka Wardiani
Fefi Eka Wardiani.

Being a student in Taiwan allows me to gain experience and to face challenges that increasingly make me more resilient, such as learning the Taiwanese language and culture. Me and my friends learn many cultures of Taiwan, such as how to make moon cakes, pineapple cakes and various other foods as well as famous festivals in Taiwan. It was very fun and exciting because we could broaden our horizon.

Making a pineapple cake. Source: Author's documentation.
Making a pineapple cake. Source: Author’s documentation.

In every international event held on campus, Me and my friends always showed and introduced the Indonesian culture (traditional games, dances, songs, musics and Pencak Silat). I think being an Indonesian is a pride because we have many beautiful traditions and cultures that are worthy to be shown to the world. They also show how diverse Indonesia is. This year, my friends and I performed Saman Dance from Aceh, Pencak Silat and sang Indonesia Raya at the International Festival. Meanwhile, our seniors performed and played Angklung and sang Gundul Pacul. To prepare for these various performances, we trained for one whole month to deliver the best.

Saman Dance at the international festival. Source: Author's documentation.
Saman Dance at the international festival. Source: Author’s documentation.
All the performers at the international festival. Source: Author's documentation.
All the performers at the international festival. Source: Author’s documentation.

Since I first came here, I joined the NCYU Indonesian Student Association (on my campus – PPI NCYU). This organization is a student organization from Indonesia that wants to strengthen relationships between students while supporting the introduction of Indonesian culture itself. During my first year here, the PPI NCYU together with the Indonesian workers in Chiayi organized an Indonesian Culture Festival (ICF) for the first time. As the event committee, I was responsible to prepare a plan for the whole event. The ICF was successful and was attended by many people both from Indonesia and Taiwan.

The attendees of Indonesian Culture Festival in Chiayi 2019. Source: ICF Chiayi.
The attendees of Indonesian Culture Festival in Chiayi 2019. Source: ICF Chiayi.

The ICF began with a competition held, such as on August 17th (Indonesian Independence Day) in which many people participated. We held the event in November 2019. We held many competitions to introduce traditional games from Indonesia as well as to introduce activities enlivening the Indonesian Independence Day atmosphere. For example, we held eating crackers competition, tug of war contest (tarik tambang), and various other competitions that are popular in Indonesia. Afterwards, we held various Indonesian cultural performances.

We began the program by singing the national anthem Indonesia Raya. Then, there was Silat performance accompanied by the narration reading in English and Mandarin, explaining the meaning of Silat. After the martial arts performance, we had dance performances from several provinces in Indonesia, presented by the Indonesian students. The performers looked amazing with various accessories. Many audiences were amazed to see the my friends’ performances. Then, we continued with fashion show in which we wore traditional costumes (Javanese, Kalimantan, Sumatra and various other traditional clothes). The performances were interspersed by performances from solo singers and bands with Indonesian songs sung by Indonesian workers from Chiayi City. At the end of the event, we continued singing together.

Tug of War Competition. Source: Documentation of ICF Chiayi.
Tug of War Competition. Source: ICF Chiayi.
Eat Crackers Competition and Angklung introduction. Source: ICF Chiayi.
‘Eat Crackers’ Competition and Angklung introduction. Source: ICF Chiayi.

My daily life in Taiwan was so much fun. Besides, I have friends who also come from Indonesia. I also have many Taiwanese friends and they are friendly and helpful. I once cook a traditional Indonesian dish, Soto, in my university and they said that the dish was very tasty because of the special seasoning. On other occasions, I often invited my Taiwanese friends to come to my place for meals together. We ate Indonesian foods that I cook like Pecel, Orek Tempe and many more. The difference between Indonesian cuisines and Taiwanese cuisines is the spiciness. Taiwanese cuisines rarely use chillies for cooking. Therefore, I didn’t use a lot of chillies when I cook for my Taiwanese friends. They say that the Indonesian cuisine is very rich in flavor. In fact, they are eager to buy Tempe and Pecel seasoning to bring home and eat with their families after they ate the Indonesian foods with me.

Eating Indonesian food. Source: Author's documentation.
Eating Indonesian foods. Source: Author’s documentation.

I also often tell them about the culture of Indonesia, including places that are highly recommended to be visited, such as Bali, Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple and Lake Toba. Besides that, I also told interesting stories from Indonesia. In addition, I also often use Indonesian background wallpapers in various presentations in class and seminars. This way, it raised various interesting questions about Indonesia from the audiences that saw my presentation slides. It was a great experience to introduce Indonesia to the world in various international and local activities as well as in my daily life. Being an overseas student, in my opinion, is an opportunity to introduce the diverse cultures of Indonesia to the world, in addition to our study duty. We should embrace our roots beyond borders!