Indonesian Culture Event: A Cultural Potpourri to Remember

26th May 2022

Selamat datang.

That’s ‘Welcome’ in Bahasa Indonesia.

And welcome is truly what each and every guest felt at the Indonesian Culture Event on 20 May 2022, at the Coombs Lecture Theatre.

The Vision

Learning about Indonesia is most meaningful when you can learn in a way that engages you fully with the language. With this belief strongly entrenched in his pedagogy, Dr Subhan Zein started thinking of how to achieve this at CHL, when he discovered that students of the Indonesian Language Program had not yet had any opportunities to showcase their language talents or organisational skills in the form of managing (or contributing to) an Indonesian-focused initiative.

And thus was born the idea of the Indonesian Culture Event. The vision was to involve students of the Program to organise and contribute to an Indonesian-focused event. The format of the event, therefore, was also very student-driven. The students took centre-stage to be the masters of ceremony, committee members were in charge of different aspects of event management, and student representatives talked about their motivations of, and experiences with, learning Indonesian.

Indo1Masters of ceremony Lachie and Molly having fun talking about the event

Indo2Student representative Hana talking about her motivation to learn Indonesian

Commentaries from committee members provide a testament to this student-driven event:

"Saya sangat menghargai kesempatan ini untuk membantu dengan mempersiapkan acara resmi. Kemampuan saya diperkuatkan dan saya telah mencari teman baru. [I really appreciate being given this opportunity to prepare a formal event. I feel that my abilities are strengthened and I can make new friends.] I am very excited to see how everything comes together!” – Laura Mobini-Kesheh (Committee member)

Indo2aMolly Kane, master of ceremony, also a committee member

“Acara Budaya Indonesia memberi saya kesempatan untuk memperluas pengetahuan budaya saya, dan mendapatkan koneksi yang lebih kuat dengan bahasa yang saya pelajari. Saya berterima kasih atas kesempatan untuk berpartisipasi dalam acara tersebut.” [The Indonesian Culture Event gave me the opportunity to expand my cultural knowledge, and strengthen my connection to the language which I am studying. I am grateful for this opportunity to participate in the event.] – Molly Kane (Committee member)

The approach facilitated student-faculty networking as well, as Subhan’s vision was also for the students to get to know all the teachers involved in the Program.

Photos of the faculty were displayed on the big screen and everyone was introduced one by one: Ms Myra Abubakar, Professor I Wayan Arka, Dr Eva Nisa, Dr Ying Xin Show, Mrs Nenen Ilahi, Mrs Zara Maxwell-Smith, Dr Ross Tapsell, Dr Elly Kent, and Dr Subhan Zein.

The most experienced teacher of Indonesian at ANU, Mrs Nenen Ilahi, was given the opportunity to take the centre stage. She shared insights and tips to learn the Indonesian language in a five-minute talk which successfully engaged and motivated the students. There were also photos of the Indonesia Corner, to familiarise students with the facility available to them to foster their learning, or even to just hang out and chat with friends.

Indo3Nenen Ilahi motivating students

A True Indonesian Experience

Hosted by the students and faculty of the Indonesian Language Program at the ANU School of Culture, History & Language, the Indonesian Culture Event certainly lived up to its title. The evening was all about Indonesian culture, with traditional song, dialogue, banter, music and cinema.

Most importantly, it was a gathering that symbolised the values that CHL stands for—those of collective spirit, community bonding, and respect and admiration for diversity and cultural heritage.

What made the occasion even more special was the presence of some very special guests from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia for Australia and Vanuatu — the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, His Excellency Dr Siswo Pramono, and Distinguished Education and Culture Attaché, Dr Mukhamad Najib.

Indo3aHis Excellency Dr Siswo Pramono


His Excellency the Ambassador stated:

“Indonesia and Australia already have all the political infrastructures required to strengthen bilateral relations. Today's event is one of its true testaments of the great and solid relations between us, especially on the level of people-to-people contacts. As the theme of Indonesia's G20 Presidency: “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”, I am proud to reiterate that the youth have become one of the inspirations of how we revive that spirit. So, thank you for contributing and paving the way for better relations between Indonesia and Australia.”

Indo4His Excellency Dr Siswo Pramono addressing the audience

Distinguished Education and Culture Attaché added:

“One of the Embassy’s main priorities is to increase literacy of Australians in Indonesia as well the other way around. This event is one of the best kinds for that purpose, and we will always be in collaboration with ANU, as well as various Student's associations such as AIYA, ANUISA, and PPIA.”

The evening itself was appropriately kicked off with the wonderfully upbeat and inspiring Indonesian National Anthem, Indonesia Raya, after which our Honourable delegates and Professor Simon Haberle formally opened the event with opening remarks.


Indo6From left to right: CHL Director Professor Simon Haberle, His Excellency Ambassador Dr Siswo Pramono, and Distinguished Education and Culture Attaché, Dr Mukhamad Najib

Their warmth and dignity really set the tone for an evening full of Indo-Australian camaraderie and cultural exchange. CHL Director Professor Simon Haberle graced the special guests and audience with a warm and welcoming address to foster the general air of collaboration, festivity and fun that was perfect for a Friday evening!

Indo7Professor Simon Haberle addressing the audience

Foot-tapping Fusion

Following the opening addresses of our esteemed guests and the CHL Director, as well as some student narrations of their language-learning experience, the audience was in for a real treat. The ANU Indonesian Student Association (ANUISA) Angklung Group took the stage with their bamboo instruments and performed the wonderfully cheerful and popular dangut Indonesian song TERAJANA.

Indo8The ANUISA Angklung Group

Indo9Alice Morgan (middle) is one of the few non-Indonesian members in the ANUISA Angklung Group

Indo10ANUISA Angklung Group in action

Up next was an even bigger surprise, some foot-tapping fusion aptly suited the occasion of celebrating Indonesian-Australian harmony—a heart-warming rendition of the popular I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You by Ibu Joyce from the Indonesian Embassy, with angklung orchestration in the background!

Indo11Ibu Joyce with the _ANUISA Angklung Group

Cultural Potpourri

The evening progressed with more student stories, who shared their personal experiences and perspectives with learning Indonesian. These stories were not only eye-opening and wonderful for other students in the audience, but also for participants and staff from other disciplines and departments.

Indo12Student representative Rosie talking about her experience in learning Indonesian

Indo14Student representative Imogen talking about her motivation in learning Indonesian

Indo15Master of Ceremony Lachie explaining rules of the event

Indo16Student representatives Joe (left) and Aidan (right) talking about saving the Indonesian program in Narrabundah College

Indo17Student representative Marcie talking about her motivation to learn Indonesian

Indo18Student representative Ayu telling the audience a memorable experience she had in Indonesia

One of the highlights of the evening was the screening of the popular Indonesian movie, Di Balik '98 (Behind '98). Released in 2015, this blockbuster narrates the events surrounding the Indonesian riot of 1998, which resulted in the fall of the Soeharto presidency. The story is told through the lens of a student who also participated as protester during the riots.

A film quiz made for some good-hearted fun and engagement later, as the winner of the quiz described after the event:

"Di Acara Budaya Indonesia, pertunjukan Angklung, film, dan makanan makan kecil Indonesia sangat menyenangkan, dan mendengarkan mahasiswa-mahasiswi lain bercerita tentang motivasinya dan pengalamannya belajar bahasa Indonesia sangatlah menarik. Saya sangat menyukai dan sangat berterima kasih untuk batik yang saya terima setelah memenangkan kuis Kahoot. [At the Indonesian Cultural Event, the Angklung performance, film, and Indonesian snacks were very enjoyable and listening to the other students talk about their motivations and experiences learning Indonesian was very interesting. I really like and am very thankful for the Batik that I received after winning the Kahoot quiz.] – Zoe Matthews (Participant and First Winner of the Film Quiz)

Overall, an event that started off as a small initiative to encourage applied learning techniques, evolved into something much bigger and more meaningful for not just the students and faculty of the Indonesian Language Program, but also for the wider community.

Indo19A Japanese (left) and a Nepalese (middle) add to the cultural mix of the event as members of the ANUISA Angklung Group

It was a cultural potpourri that provided a real taste of Indonesia and served as a platform for showcasing and fostering Indonesia-Australia ties in education and culture.

Here’s what some of the committee members and participants had to say:

“This event provided student committee members the opportunity to contribute to an Indonesian-focused event where they used their Indonesian-language skills when interacting with other members of the Program. They could also practice their organisational and public-speaking skills. These are important skills they will need once they complete their studies and embark on a professional career. I am very pleased with the contributions the students have made overall.” – Dr Subhan Zein (Academic staff, Chief Organising Committee)

IndofinalDr Subhan Zein and the committee behind the success of the event

“The Indonesian Cultural Event was a success that I am proud to have been a part of. We created an excitingly complex evening with many aspects of Indonesian in such a short amount of time, and the wonderful outcome is a real testament to our collective effort. After a long pandemic period of disconnect, I was very happy to be able to share our culture with so many people who appreciated it so much. I really look forward to future events and experiences like this that we will be able to provide and be a part of.” – Ayu Hancock (Committee member)

“I am originally from India and it was really nice to get to know more about Indonesia not only the food, but also its culture and history that Indonesian people experienced. Moreover, after seeing non-Indonesian people speaking Bahasa so well it has really sparked the interest in me to learn more and visit Indonesia one day! – Jawwad Ahmed (Participant)

jawwadJawwad Ahmed, our Indian participant

Check out the highlights from this amazingly inspiring event in this video, courtesy the Indonesian Embassy!

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster