Author Archives: Kate Wright

Images from Michigan

At the Detroit river

At the Islamic Center 0f America, Dearborn

Eating ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy, a Michigan summer tradition

Our last night in Michigan


Images from Pondok Pesantren Pabelan, Magelang

Pesantren students with our students

Carrie playing soccer with male students

Carrie’s new soccer fans

The stage set for a competition among Boy and Girl Scouts at the school

Day One Scavenger Hunt!

This was my first day in joining this program, “US-Indonesia Partnership Program”. I was informed before that I had to be at Wisma Cempaka Putih by 8.15. And in this day I arrived at the Wisma at 8.00. When I arrived at the place, I saw my American friends sitting and having talk in the kitchen room table. I came there then I saw my friends. Then I talk to them and having a brief introduction with them and their supervisor.

The first session is introduction game facilitated by Mas Indra. In this game each of us explain a brief about ourselves, lika our hobbies, our background, or something like that. In here, after we told something about our friends, then we would chosen by another person to tell about the information of the person given by facilitator. In this game, the lessons that I got, are about how to know the friends quickly, and remember what they said. In this game, we could know our friends briefly by listening our friends presentation and our re-explanation when we were chosen.

After we know each other, then Mas Indra turned us into the next part which is pairing session. Mas Indra has several envelopes to be given to our foreign friends which all of them consist of clue that correlated to their mate. The paper inside the envelopes will lead our friends to meet their partner or pair. They have to sound like what the paper pictured. When the paper had the bird image, then they have to sound like a bird. This game was very fun. Since I’m the onle male participant, then my partner has the free pass paper. In this program my partner is Carrie, a student from University of Michigan.

In the scavenger hunt, we were planned to visit Taman Pintar and Buddha Prabha Temple, but sice the Taman Pintar was closed, so we change our destination to Vredeburg Fortress.

The Glory of The Temple

In the temple the first impression that I got, the place was so beutiful. When we came there we interviewed with Mr Narji as a keeper, and Alex as a preayer who were in there. We ask alot about the place and the beliefs. That temple is a worship place for Tridharma beliefs. Tridharma is consist of three different beliefs, which are Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. The Buddhism which on this place is Buddha Prabha. There are five sects in Buddha: Matrea, Mahayana, Prabha, etc. In this temple, its the place for Buddha Prabha praying.

The ornaments in the place are very cool. The statue in the entrance describing the road of human to reach the perfectness. The paints in the wall are very dynamic. The paints are symboling the history of the Buddhism in Indonesia. But until now the exact sequence of the paintings is unknown.

The statues are very symbolic. Every statue placed there has its own ancienty:

  1. The Eight Fence Pillar means that the temple is under protection of The Eight Gods
  2. The Fire pagoda  has the function as a place for burned praying paper.
  3. A couple of Pillar Dragon and Eight Gods means that in ancient time, its used to be the prison for God and The Invisibles
  4. The Gold Fur Lion as a symbol of bravery
  5. A couple of God’s Children riding the peacock as a symbol of harmonity.
  6. A couple of gold lotus symbolize the purity
  7. Kirin as a holy creature from haven
  8. Three gods door as a god’s guide.
  9. The wall of stone
  10. The paintings on wall, that describe the war between the good spirit and evil spirit in heaven
  11. A couple of gold crab, as a symbol of smart and intelligence.

The live of Buddha religion in Yogyakarta is peaceful so far. There are no intrareligion and interreligion conflict of Budhha until now. The master or bikku of this temple often join in Forum Persatuan Umat Beriman (FPUB) every month. They held a dialog forum to maintain their realtionship and to prevent the problem between them.

The Historic Fortress

The Vredeburg Fortress is located in the south of Malioboro street in Yogyakarta. When I visited this place, the guidance section is closed, but the administration office is opened. So, I was lucky I could have interviewing with Mr. Bambang without having sunny walking through al the buildings, sence I’ve only limited time.

Right know this place is functioned as a museum. But, the fortress has the long historical story. The Sri Sultan HB I built this fort in 1760 because of the request of the dutch . With the reason of sold defense, the Dutch governor ask the Sultan to make the fort more permanently.  The “Vredeburg” word means “Peace”. Its as the manifestation of the harmony relationship between the Palace and the Dutch.

After the Independce day of Indonesia, this fortress has transformed into several function of it. The government functioned this place as a barrack of Indonesian Military soldier. This place also has ever functioned as a prison for PKI members. And in 1987 thiss place was officialy functioned as a public museum.

Today, there are 90 diorams exist here, and also a lot of festivals held in this place. The diorama tell us about the fight of Yogyakarta people to maintain their territory during the war. And also, in this place is often held the festival. The nearest festival is Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta, which been planned in 20th of june until 5th of july. There are a lot of another festivals held here. This fort can be a place to accomodate the side who want to held event or festival. But the fortress also has its own festivals.


Opening Ceremony


Our students, Fulvia and Anne Marie from Lehigh University, and Carrie and Ellen from the University of Michigan, at the opening ceremony hosted at Universitas Gadjah Mada.  We were met by the Vice Rector of the university, who welcomed us and spoke of his hopes for continued collaboration between the three universities.

Preparing for Departure!

We are getting ready to leave on our journey – in three short days we’ll be on the plane to meet our Indonesian counterparts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  We plan to spend the first two weeks of our trip looking at issues of religious pluralism in contemporary Indonesia. We can’t wait to meet the Gadjah Mada students who will be traveling and blogging with us!

Religious Pluralism and Democratic Societies: A study trip in Indonesia and the United States

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies of the University of Michigan is part of a 12-university group working with the International Education Foundation (IIE) to spearhead their United-States-Indonesia Partnership Project.  In this project, six American universities and six Indonesian universities are looking for ways that they can partner with each other to provide cross-cultural and collaborative learning opportunities to their students.  The partnership between University of Michigan, Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta is supported by this initiative.

We have developed a one-month summer study project in which American students and Indonesian students travel together in both countries looking at the same issues of religious pluralism and democratic society.  Students will travel in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas in central Java in Indonesia, and then will travel as a group in southeastern Michigan, including Detroit, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor, as well as Bethlehem Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C.  In each place, we will examine local histories of religious diversity and local understandings of religious difference.  At the same time, we will think about the ways in which democratic practices shape, or are shaped by, religious practices.

And of course, we will blog our thoughts. The students will describe our activities and post their comments and photos throughout the trip.

Stay tuned for an exciting journey!