News | Student Life

Indonesian Network event shares culture

Kebaya tops, batik textiles, and the Angklung—a long instrument made of bamboo tubes—were some of the many items on display at the Indonesian Network of Columbia’s cultural showcase on Thursday.

More than 150 people attended the third annual “Indonesia through Different Lenses” to learn more about Indonesian culture.

Fransiskus Andrianto, a postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia School of Dental Medicine and president of the Indonesian Network of Columbia, noted that the event has expanded over the past few years in order to further the group’s goal of educating students about its members’ culture.

“We don’t have a lot of Indonesian students at Columbia, so we try and introduce the idea of, ‘What is Indonesia?’ I think most of the people here are curious about Indonesia, its culture, its dance, its food,” Andrianto said. “I ask a lot of people here in New York if they’ve tried Indonesian food, and they haven’t, so I like to promote that.”

The event consisted of a variety of stands, each representing an aspect of Indonesian culture. One station offered attendees the chance to dress in Indonesian costumes from different islands, one showcased Indonesian textiles, one hosted language teachers who taught participants phrases in Indonesian, and one—the most popular—gave attendees a taste of Indonesian food.

The table portion of the evening ended with a series of onstage competitions, presided over by Indonesian Consul General Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra. Competitions included sarong-wrapping and translating English phrases learned at the language station into Indonesian. An uproar ensued when it turned out the winners of the latter contest were Malaysian, since the two languages are similar.

Aside from the clothing on display, many guests wore their own traditional Indonesian clothing to the event.

“I wasn’t expecting this many people to be in all their different national costumes. It’s really nice to see,” Sebastian Hadinata, TC, said.

Wayne Forrest, a member of the board of directors of the American-Indonesian Cultural and Education Foundation, spoke about United States-Indonesia relations, and three other speakers also discussed topics important to Indonesian culture and politics.

In the traditional dances that concluded the program, dancers portrayed everything from tilling and planting to welcoming a lovelorn prince to Kalimantan. For this dance, the performers dressed in feathers, acting as birds.

Dharmaputra, who was there for the second year in a row, said the Indonesian consulate was grateful for the event.

“This is sort of our program as well,” he said. “It supports our mission. The mission of the consulate is to promote the relationship between Indonesia and America, especially on the East Coast’s 15 states. New York is in the middle, so we always invite everybody to see the Indonesian culture for themselves as much as possible.”

He said he thought the event had grown from previous years.

“I’m here again in the same building and the same room, but the people are different. I think it shows that more people are coming, many people who would like to know more about Indonesia,” Dharmaputra said.

hallie.nell.swanson@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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