This writing is one of the selected essays done by the undergraduate students of “Consumer Analysis” from University of Indonesia, the faculty of social and political sciences, communication program of advertising international class 2013.
The humble beginnings of Kediri Bertutur originated from a cultural journey: “I am fully aware that to reach quality of life does not mean gaining a higher level of status and wealth. In my journey, I am seeking quality of life based on spiritual humanism that moves my very being on this earth. This lesson I can only gain from a cultural journey,” Kandi Windoe.
Inspired by the same spirit, Kediri Bertutur takes the undergraduate students on their own cultural journeys. Kediri Bertutur presents Hana Alhaddad’s personal writing after taking the journey to Jogja in November 2014.
A TRIP TO SELF-IDENTITY by Hana Alhaddad
The trip I am referring to is not only centered towards the class excursion to Jogjakarta, Solo and Malang but to the revealing journey since I first got into consumer analysis class. It should be noted however, that the excursion was the peak to which I became grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of this class.
To begin with, it is important to notify that before this class, I was ignorant, vain and prejudice towards other people’s cultures in Indonesia. I was ignorant in a way that I couldn’t care less of what existed towards other people’s belief being that I have strong values of my own. This in itself makes me vain since I can only seem to appreciate and accept my culture to be what I thought is the most perfect belief. Consequently, this makes me a prejudice that judges other cultural values to be inconsistent, confusing and irrational in comparison to my own.
Being in this class has made me realize that I was in fact, the dumb one. Although still being very opinionated towards other cultural values, I began to have this feeling that it would be completely useless to think this way. I might not have to agree with what existed in other cultures but I might as well understand them for other purposes that can be useful for the future.
My prejudices then, became completely unreliable when I’m not even aware of the entity of my own culture. I have come to realize that the culture that I referred to as my own, was apparently directed majorly towards my family values and traditions instead of the common cultural beliefs on which I am from, Jakarta, Betawi.
It might be helpful to comprehend that the Betawi culture is rich with multi-ethnic people from all parts of Indonesia as well as foreigners who have previously colonized the nation. In fact, the Betawi community has yet to be formally acknowledged until the late 20th century. To this day, it’s vague to know the exact faces of Betawi people since they are fused by many other cultural heritages. Being an Arab-Betawi, it has become common for me to accept this notion. It just occurred to me however, that I do not hold these values as tight because of other external forces that has modernize my thinking method. This is why I think that since being a part of this class and trip has enabled me to set aside my values in order to learn other people’s cultural beliefs.
The life lesson in the trip first began when we visited Plenthe Solo the night we visited Solo right after we landed in Jogja. This was truly an honorable experience that I particularly enjoyed. Initially I have had great appreciations towards music, I haven’t however been interested in percussions nor the people who played these musical instruments. Being somewhat in a position that has obligated myself to be proactive in learning from them had instantly changed my perception towards this music and the people behind them. Meeting the crew had made me respected them for being a passionate person. They were people who didn’t even finish school and had begun to learn these instruments by autodidact. I myself am an autodidact in learning guitar and piano but this terminology of autodidact is completely different from their version. They did not only start learning by themselves, but they went into the trouble of actually going into deep research to learn the theories, histories, and the culture of the genres as a whole. After having deep discussions with the crew, we watched them perform. This was yet another exceptional performance that has captured their passionate personalities right onto the beat of the instruments. They were able to translate the musical notes with their feelings that in result would caught the audience’s attention that captured their feelings. The highlight of the visit was when they allowed us to learn the musical instruments and was shown the various compilations that Plenthe had originally created in genres such that hip hop, electronic music, jazz and so many others. This was truly an eye-opening experience seeing that their creativity was beyond imaginable and regardless of their success, having travelled around to other continents, was still down-to-earth and open to teach us their expertise. In that moment, I had personally learned to play the violin, which I thought was harder to learn than the previous instruments I learned mostly because it requires very delicate touch and that from the beginning, our feelings needed to be fully controlled in order to produce the right melody. From this visit I learned that there are no reason for me to be lazy into further learning the instruments I have at home. Seeing that these are people from a very small town, having the urge and passion to learn. It’s such a waste that in comparison to me, I have not been able to fight myself into striving for my passion.
The second day of the trip, we visited Abdi Dalem Keraton. In comparison to the visit before, this event had personally lost its point of interest. I did understand that these were people who have high commitment to their heritage and chose this path particularly because it is safe. Regardless of what they thought it to be, claiming that being a part of this was educational to them and that the institution has clear objectives for each members to follow, I summed up that this was just a safe choice to their previous jobs and lives. Setting aside my judgmental notion I understood that every person has their own choices to live their life and that there is no right or wrong. Hence, their decision to follow the rules and values of Keraton, although I could never understand why such person would want those things, I finally realized that maybe these choices are what is best for them because this would allow them live a better life.
During this day, we also visited Yayasan Pamulangan Beksa Sasminta Mardawa. I have never been that interested in dance, whether it being modern or traditional dance. I can accept however, that this is art and that it requires passion, discipline, and the peace of the mind. To this knowledge I was open to get insights from the teachers, students and leader of this particular dance institution. I was first surprised to learn from the discussions that the people of Jogja, although being in a suburban town, has a deep analytical thinking that I hadn’t previously known existed to the minds of those outside the outreach of the metropolitan people. I respected that these people understood that this dance, a form of art couldn’t be easily achieved by those who are not mentally ready to go into action. In order to drive passion, the students themselves need to have a ready mind set to know the history, technique and meanings behind this dance. In addition, I grew curious into knowing the reasoning on why there are still students in the heart of Jogja city, who wanted to learn this very classical dance. At first I thought that this was inner motivation, but then I was told that most of the students that there were studying as part of their curriculum in school. Hence I learned that the motivation to be a part of this dance culture has not yet come voluntarily by the local people. Yet, there are other students from other parts of the city, like Palembang, who wanted to learn this dance. It was also surprising that the leader of this institution have went all over the world except for Africa in effort to conserve this dance and teach foreigners on the beauty of the dance. It was sad to hear that these foreigners have great appreciations towards the rules of the dance that we Indonesians lack of. Here I learned that, even if I’m not personally motivated to learn this dance for myself, I feel that this is an art that need to be conserved in the future because this is what has given value to not only Jogja but Indonesia. We are so rich of culture, in that it has become an asset being envied by other countries. It would be such a waste not to love this asset of ours.
At night, we want to Malang to attend this event coordinated for a group called Desainer Ing Kampung. I have heard this group in class, and was already interested to know more about them. These were people who worked as farmers by day and graphic designers by night. It just didn’t make sense to me why such incentive exists in the first place since it is two completely different field of work. I was also delighted to know that they produced such quality works. However, having anticipated great discussion with the practitioners, I was disappointed to learn that we were not able to have personal discussions with them and instead hear presentations from professional people who had their fame in Indonesia. Regardless, I still tried to find other factors that might catch my attention. Of course, this was captured when hearing Mba Kandi spoke as a presenter. The materials spoken were those that the class has heard before, that is we do not need to adore other cultures as an inspiration to our work because every where we look in Indonesia, is an asset of the world that is the greatest inspiration that can ever exist. Although having heard this for the last 5 months now, it was another great reminder that has further put a focus on why I went to this trip in the first place, that is to learn this asset of Indonesia without being a prejudice.
In the last day of the excursion we went to visit Sanggar Tari Angguk in the outskirts of Jogjakarta, a very hilly area. This to me was the most emotional experience from the entire places we went to. It was even more emotional since we arrived there late for more than an hour. The moment we arrived, they were already sitting in a group anticipating our arrival. It truly broke my heart that they were so eager to meet us and show their skills. The whole time I was there, I could not really embrace myself with them because their faces are very innocent and I feared that my way of speaking could somewhat be misunderstood by them. All that aside, watching them perform, even if not all of them were able to perform well, I could see that each and every one of them were dedicated to be a part of this curriculum, which was different than the student’s motives in Yayasan Pamulangan. Afterwards, we were divided into groups to have personal discussions amongst one another. This chance had me appreciate myself even more when I saw that they were able to enjoy their life even with the littlest privilege. They were to love themselves and their origins even after having the chance of going to Jakarta. I thought that it was an important factor to be able to love yourself prior into learning to love others.
Before the trip with the class ended, our last destination was to Pengrajin Gerabah at Kasongan where we were able to channel our inner creativity into a manual method of art out of any computerize systems. It was comforting to have spent hours into creating a single artwork without any contact with electronic gadgets. We did not however, had the chance to ask the practitioners any sort of questions because we were so engaged with our work. To me, without even asking them anything, I appreciated the experience because it was a reminder in my part that it’s so much more momentous to be able to be engaged in an activity without being in contact with the virtual world.
Overall, this class and trip was a wake-up call for me to have greater appreciations towards other people’s different values as well as the pleasure of the manual methods of art outside the contact of electronics. At the end of this trip, I felt like I was a much more objective, respectful and curious person towards other people’s cultures as well as my own. I realized that I do not need to agree or accept their values, but it would be stupid to ignore that such beliefs existed because knowing them will help me in the future, to have a better knowledge of my own country. As an Indonesian, we cannot only know our own sub-culture. We need to know as much of the traditions that exist in Indonesia. We also have to realize that these cultures and traditions highly affect the lifestyle of these people. So it would be unfair to consider that the people of Jakarta have lost its values of traditions. Prior to judging this fact, we need to understand that even from history Jakarta is a place of a multi-ethnic race, and over the years, these people were able to cope with the differences and have more modernize thoughts. It would be hard for these people to value their sub-cultures because it is so various that valuing their personal culture could cause problems amongst those of different perceptions. Regardless of the fact that the people of Jakarta are beginning to adopt more western cultures, losing contact of the true Indonesian values, those who are aware of this needs to look at this as an opportunity to give those people a wake-up call to have a more balance values. In the present day, I think this effort has gone onto drastic measures and the improvement has been very well recorded. The young generation of Jakarta has started to have greater appreciations towards local products and conserving back the classical styles used by our parents and grandparents.