Saturday February 7 marked an important step for Indonesian students in the US. Students from the Indonesian Associations of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, joined the Yale Indonesia Forum on their campus in New Haven, CT. The purpose of the joint conference was to network and build on the momentum of the previous session held at Cornell University in Fall 2008.
The students gathered to talk about their individual research, and most importantly, the ways in which their individual research can be used to be of benefit to other students and the public back home in Indonesia. The day featured contributions from undergraduates and graduate students alike, on topics ranging from the Indonesian economy and Chinese cultural identity in Indonesia, to the ecological status of Peat forests in West Kalimantan. Two of the undergraduate contributions were especially inspiring, with Barry Beagan speaking of the possibilities for reforming the slums inside and outside Jakarta, and Melvany Kasih speaking of the potential for using potato products in innovative ways to alleviate hunger and food shortages.
The lively and dynamic discussions that began during the presentation sessions continued throughout the coffee breaks, the campus tour, and the dinner that followed the student talks. After dinner, Indriyo Sukmono, faculty advisor to the Yale Indonesia Forum, invited Bapak Waleed of the ISFA to give a presentation which began with video and photo coverage of the Pekan Budaya (Cultural Festival) held in Padang, West Sumatra, earlier in 2008. Bapak Waleed took the opportunity to commend everyone present on their accomplishments, and especially on their intentions to give back to their communities at home in Indonesia through their research and academic studies. He encouraged all of the students to continue with their work, and to be persistent and perseverant in looking for funding and scholarship opportunities, both for themselves and for their colleagues in Indonesia.
All were in agreement that one of the main goals of the association was to broaden the networking capabilities of the Indonesian students in the United States, for the purposes of opening up further opportunities in academic collaborations and studies abroad for students from Indonesia. In this way, Indonesian students will be able to benefit from advanced technologies, and American students will be able to benefit from the rich cultural heritage of Indonesia and the vast array of resources the country has to offer. Academic exchange between students at all levels improves both ends of the collaboration.
Indriyo Sukmono, Senior Lector of Indonesian in the Yale Southeast Asia Studies Council and Faculty Advisor to the Yale Indonesia Forum, and Jolanda Pandin, Lecturer in Asian Studies and Faculty Advisor to the Cornell Indonesian Association closed the evening, each giving their congratulations and thanks to the presenters and organizers, especially Kevin Fogg, Yale University graduate student in History, Jurist Tan, Yale College Senior, and the rest of the hosts from the YIF.
As the group worked together to clean up and close the classroom in Luce Hall, several of the students from Cornell took the opportunity to talk with Bapak Waleed in more detail about the unique and intriguing movements they saw during his video presentation. The Cornell undergraduates even extended him an invitation to visit their campus later in the semester, to perform for the Cornell student body and community. The students and faculty from both Wesleyan and Cornell thanked Bapak for the introduction of the traditional arts, music, and dance into the discussion forum, as another important way to connect and re-connect with Indonesia and the Pusaka of the traditional heritage.
The full schedule for the day's session, including talk abstracts and speaker biographies, can be found online. More information about the Yale Indonesia Forum can also be found online, hosted through Yale's Southeast Asia Studies Council. The Cornell University Indonesian Association likewise offers more information on the web. Wesleyan University is well known for its academic studies of Indonesian culture, especially for its ethnomusicology department and its Gamelan and Traditional Music Ensemble. Bapak Waleed and the ISFA offer additional information, photo and video footage of authentic cultural events through their various websites.
Bapak Waleed and the ISFA would like to especially thank Indriyo Sukmono and the Yale Indonesia Forum, and Jolanda Pandin and the Cornell Indonesian Association for co-hosting this important event, and for supporting the students in their endeavors to give of themselves to contribute to Indonesian society. We all eagerly anticipate the future events and activities of the Indonesian students in the Connecticut, New York, and the Greater New England region, and wish their collaboration the best of luck as they move forward.
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