Presenting in Indonesian language, students from the introductory and intermediate streams of Indonesian Studies showcased their semester-long research projects at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Sydney in the lead up to the commemoration of Indonesia's Youth Pledge Day.
The students shared their learning experiences by drawing on different theories of culture to understand Indonesian cultural practices. Topics included meanings of traditions for young people, Indonesian food and its adaptations in Australia, the visibility of Indonesian cultures in Australia and Australia-Indonesia bilateral relations.
In attendance were Indonesia's Consul General, Mr Vedi Kurnia Buana, Consulate staff including the Consul and Vice Consul for Education and Culture, fellow undergraduate and postgraduate Indonesian Studies students, a visiting scholar, members from the Indonesian community in Sydney, and family and friends of the student presenters.
"This special evening at the Consulate featuring our students' research presentations was a first for us," said Associate Professor Novi Djenar, Chair of Indonesian Studies. "While our students could have presented their projects in class at the end of semester, we felt that presenting in public would provide an opportunity to communicate authentically – like in a real-world situation."
Indonesian Studies at the School of Languages and Cultures focuses on the acquisition of multi-dimensional literacy – aiming to help students become active participants in the linguistically and culturally diverse world of Indonesia. Indonesian is the national language of an archipelago with people from over 300 ethnic groups who speak more than 600 languages.
"With our close-knit Indonesian Studies community at the University of Sydney, we bring out language proficiency and intellectual potential in our students," said Associate Professor Djenar. "Through small-group teaching, our students have ample room to explore their analytical capacities and creative imagination."
For first-year Psychology student Michelle Toisuta, studying Indonesian as a beginner has allowed her to reconnect with her heritage culture and to expand her knowledge of Indonesian language, customs and traditions. The evening at the Consulate marked a highlight in her learning trajectory.
"It was incredible to meet figures and individuals who played a key role in shaping relations between Indonesia and Australia," said Michelle.
Sharing our presentations at the Indonesian Consulate General to commemorate ‘The Youth Pledge’ was incredibly symbolic. By involving young university students and giving us a voice at an event like this, we are seeing a new generation engage with Indonesian language and cultures.
"This is significant in making Indonesian cultures better known and more appreciated among all people, including in Australia," Michelle reflected. "Being able to connect with other students in Indonesian Studies and hearing about what they learnt during their studies was also very exciting to see."
Youth Pledge Day, or Sumpah Pemuda in Bahasa Indonesia, is observed every year on 28 October following a 1928 Youth Pledge by young Indonesians who were unified in the vision for Indonesia's independence.
"Having the Indonesian Consul General, the Consuls for Education and Culture, students' families and members of the Indonesian community as audience created a space for knowledge-sharing and opened new possibilities for students," said Associate Professor Djenar.
We have strong relations with the Indonesian community, fostered over many years through staff involvement in community organisations and activities supporting high school students learning Indonesian.
“We hope the initiative serves as a meaningful step toward enhancing the relations between two nations, Australia and Indonesia,” said Associate Professor Djenar.
The evening was organised in collaboration among Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney, Balai Bahasa dan Budaya Indonesia (BBBI) – NSW, Australia Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) – NSW Chapter, Australia Indonesia Association, the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, Sydney and Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Canberra through the office of its Education and Culture Attaché.
Watch the recording of the student presentations on YouTube
Banner image: Indonesian Consul General Mr Vedi Kurnia Buana with Indonesian Studies students, Associate Professor Novi Djenar and Consulate staff
Images supplied by Associate Professor Novi Djenar and Dr Elisabeth Kramer of Indonesian Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures