Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gala Cultural Evening, Indonesian Scholars International Convention 2012

Last night (10 November 2012) I attend the Gala Cultural Evening that concluded the Indonesian Scholars International Convention 2012 at the Institute of Education in London ( This was preceded by two days of papers presented by students from Indonesia studying in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, as well as a number of other countries.

The cultural evening was a chance for PPI societies in the UK, bands and singers etc to show off their talents and entertain the gathered students and various other Indonesian supporters (including Charles Humfrey, former ambassador to Indonesia).

Highlights included Gita Gutawa, an Indonesian pop star who is currently doing undergraduate studies in Birmingham, who did her hit song Sempurna ( backed by a fashion show, and a saman dance performed by members of PPI Nottingham and friends. (One of the dancers was a British student who was interviewed by the MCs after the dance and said she had started studying saman dance over the summer and had practiced with the Nottingham group for a month.)

There was also an amateur dalang, a lecturer in East Java who also presented a paper on how Javanese philosophy can be used to shape political ideology, who, accompanied by recorded gamelan  music,  danced on to stage in full Javanese costume carrying two wayang puppets and sat down in front of a microphone. The music stopped quickly (generating laughter from the audience) and he launched into a Limbukan in which Cangik told her daughter Limbuk about her responsibilities as an Indonesian studying overseas. He also sung a number of tembang with didactic content. I spoke to a local staff member of the Indonesian Embassy who was nonplussed by the man's paper, implying that Javanese traditional beliefs have no place in democratic Indonesia, and that this effort was a dangerous throwback to the Soeharto regime's Javanism.

Most surprising for me was the announcement of two prizes given out by the manager of the London branch of BNI -- an award of GBP 2500 for the best web design, and GBP 7150 for a 'survival guide' book on studying in the UK. The bank manager said in her speech that the latter prize was even more than her salary.

There also seems to have been a film competition - one of the entries (shown without sound as the MCs went on about other things) was a stop motion wayang film in which Arjuna was shown taking a ride on a subway. Searching around I see that the film is on youtube at and that it was created as an IB art project.

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