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Saturday, 21 November 2015

"What do you think of Indonesia?" by Daniela Paredes

Daniela Paredes, yang mungkin kalian sempat lihat di video kami tentang vegetarian food, sempat kami wawancarai mengenai impression dia tentang Indonesia. Ia pernah tinggal di Indonesia selama 2 tahun dan banyak sekali kenangan manis dan menarik yang ia ingin share. Yuk, simak obrolan kami dan apa harapan dia untuk Indonesia..?  :)

1. So how did you come to Indonesia and how long did you stay there?

I went to Indonesia for the first time in August 2009, thinking I would stay there only one year. However, I went with an open mind and traveled with a one-way ticket. I ended up staying over 2 years and coming back for a second short trip. 

Why I came to Indonesia... I always was curious about Asia. I had met 2 Indonesian friends in the US and had a brief experience with Javanese Gamelan as well. I was looking for scholarships to make this trip and finally Ecuador and Indonesia signed an agreement and there was this chance. So I went to Indonesia as part of a Cultural Exchange Program organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. 

2. How did you enjoy Indonesia?  

I had a wonderful time! I met amazing people and learned to love the world a little more. I first attended some Bahasa Indonesia lessons. Then I studied some Javanese Gamelan, and then I switched to diverse musics of the archipelago such as from Sumatra or Kalimantan. I got to learn about how many different forms of making music, and making sense of it there are in what we call Indonesia. Then I learned a little more Bahasa Indonesia, a little about Literature and also West Javanese Dance. But honestly it wasn't only what I learned in classes, but moreover the experiences of living in Indonesia that taught me so much. I learned from my fellow students: Indonesian and International. I learned from my neighbors, I learned from the wise ladies selling traditional medicine (Jamu), I learned from my friends, I learned to be friendlier.

4. Where there any cultural shocks that you experienced or were you shocked by macet? :p

I was shocked at the amount of motorcycles. I didn't know there were so many! When I left the train station in Yogyakarta, I thought there were many shops selling motorcycles, and then realized they were parking lots for motorcycles. It was also hard to get used to driving on the left side, but I had no accidents and with time it went well, I even drove a motorcycle myself. 

Culturally I was at the beginning very happy with people being so friendly. Then I wasn't so happy about so many questions about my life from the neighbors, I thought they were asking too much private stuff. But slowly I realized that there is also another side to it, your neighbors know you well and therefore know when something isn't right. When a stranger is roaming around your house suspiciously they will act. Of course some people just ask too many questions, and that you will find everywhere in the world. So finally, I was glad my neighbors knew some stuff about me and were there to protect me in case needed. 

What was also new to me was the style of saying things in not such a direct way, sometimes also not looking directly into the eye. I had to learn that these were cultural codes and in certain cases the most respectful path to follow. In one case it was more efficient to tell people around me that I needed something, instead of asking directly the person that I knew was in charge of that. It worked!

5. Any other interesting things you learned living in Indonesia?

Well first of all it was my first time living in a muslim country, and I loved it. I learned something that we know all deep in our hearts, we aren't so different after all, we are all people. Even religions have so many values in common, so many celebrations and notions. I think in general terms I learned to find the commonalities and not the differences. 

I learned also to be happier with less. I lived in Yogyakarta where many people live with the basics and enjoyed life, their puppet-theatre in the evening, a late night chat with friends at an Angkringan eating Nasi Kucing, and more. 

6. What do you like about Indonesia?

There is so much I like about Indonesia. Of course a beautiful place is only a place without its people, so I think with Indonesia, it is the people that I like the most. This is a generalization, there are over 250 million Indonesians and I didn't meet even 1% of them, besides there is a very big diversity of people within the country, but, again, generalizing, I met full hearted people with gorgeous smiles and shining eyes, with generous spirits that invited me for a tea after knowing me 5 minutes. 

6. What do you hope for Indonesia in the future?

I really hope for wisdom. Corruption needs to be tackled at all levels, not just the politicians in power, but starting with everyday things in the neighborhood. I hope for more of this amazing heart that I know many Indonesian people have and to have it inspire their actions for their fellow men, women, girls and boys. There is too much injustice for such a wealthy land. I hope for more love translated into tolerance, respect, dignity and better livelihoods. 

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