Author Archives: shabrinazafira

The Ford Rouge Factory

The Rouge Ford Factory

June 21, 2011. It is still the third day of USIPP in USA. After leaving the Charles H. Wright Museum and having lunch along the beautiful Detroit River (and across from Canada!), we headed to the Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn.

The Tour of the Ford Rouge Factory consists of five parts. Since we arrived a little late in the afternoon, we only did four of the five:

  1. The legacy Theater

Here, we learned the history of the factory: the striving of Henry Ford in maintaining the human resources and creating it into something worthwhile; the ups and downs it went through (repeatedly changing name of the factory), right up until the peak of its success; how then it became one of the main source of economy in Detroit; how the people of Detroit really depended on this one industry and the withdrawal of the city when the factory went bankrupt.

  1.  Art of Manufacturing Theatre

This theatre is, to me, the most exciting. It is a 14 minute film explaining the process of car making. What makes it special is the 3D effect and loud noises. The room is shaped like a dome and screens go all the way around it. It was actually quite fun.

  1. Assembly Plant Walking Tour

This part of the tour is the longest, but the most interesting. During the half-an-hour walk, we saw the real process of building the newest Ford car. It was really my first time in a car factory, let alone seeing it being assembled.

  1. Legacy Gallery

I consider the Legacy Gallery as the icon of the Factory. The five antique ford cars exhibited attracted many of the visitors, including me of course. We took nearly a whole hour looking at them!

From this tour I did not only have fun, but I also learned what one person, Henry Ford, and his one industry can contribute to. His dreams of making automotive affordable to the public came true and without planning it, became the main source of economy for decades. The decline of its “power” has such a big effect on the city, which I saw through my own eyes the next following days in Detroit. Detroit is now like an abandoned city, schools are closing down, and people are moving out. I never thought I would see anything like it in the US. Maybe because the condition exposed to the general public, worldwide, is not as explicit. Still, however and whatever, the name of the ford factory will always be commemorated for its contribution to Detroit and the United States.

-Fira

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

“Where Do We Go From Here?”, The famous speech from Martin Luther King. No, we did not go to his memorial, neither did we learn about the philosophy of his speech. But we did go to the place that recognizes one of the things he is the most devoted to: Equality for African-Americans.  

June 21, 2011, the third day of the USIPP program in USA. It was sprinkling and chilly outside, which made it perfect to have an indoor activity. We had all our usual routine of trying to wake up early in the morning, and then have breakfast. We then drove over to The Charles Wright Museum of African American History, located in Detroit. This museum is founded in 1965 and is said to be the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. Our half-day at the museum was divided into 3 parts: the introduction, the tour, and the discussion.

The introduction in which we went through a series of art work that described very briefly the coming and protesting of African-Americans in Detroit in very early days. We saw many art works done by Guyton, who decided that the “black and white” city needed more color, and so he went around painting the city. He also put hangings on people’s houses (I actually got to see a street which still had stuff puppets hanging all over the outsides of a house later that day)

After the Introduction came the tour: And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture. We playing out scenes of the story of the African-American history: from when the journey begins in the prehistoric days of Africa, the forcing of civilians through the door of no return, it’s shipping right up until how they become an integrated part of the community. It was a very interesting journey. Our tour guide made it very exciting, since he went into “character’.

The last parts is the one I consider most loaded with information. It was the decussion and lecturing by Yolanda Jack. In the discussion, we received further explanation of what we saw during the tour. Also the current condition of how African-Americans are living today. Though the racial discrimination has died down, conflicts do still erupt every now and then. Then there is also the debate amongst the African-Americans regarding their identity and where to bring their future. It is still questioned whether they have responsibility to go back to their homeland, or are they to stay put. It was a very interesting discussion, and I really learned a lot. Though I previously understood that the African-Americans had a rough time in the US during their earlier years of settlement, the experience of going through the story and seeing of “what really happened” is a great joy and very eye-opening.

-Fira

The Second Day

Learning new things everyday! Today we went to the Ginsberg Center, watched Malcolm X at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and went to the Library. As always, it was full of excitement. We started off with a very American breakfast at Espresso Royale. I had my first hot chocolate and bagels! They were so delicious. We then headed for Ginsberg Center, which was actually only a short walk from the Cambridge House.

The Ginsberg Center is center that engage students in the University of Michigan to learn through community services. The Ginsberg Center has many programs and the program that became our focus is the Interfaith Action (IA). When we arrived at the Center we were received very welcomingly by the coordinator of IA, Rachel Yerkey. We then had a short introduction followed by a discussion of what IA is all about. So IA, as Rachel explained, is formed in the means of bringing students from diverse cultural, religious and non-religious backgrounds together. The IA started in 2006 when the Ford Foundation provided a grant. Since there was no group or activity that accommodated interfaith dialogue, it was then decided that the money would go to IA. Now the funding is split into two parts: 40% by the University; 60% by the government. The IA is also given full support by the Association of Religious Counselors (ARC), the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Religious Trust Fund, the Ecumenical Center and International Residence (ECIR), The Program on Intergroup Relations, the Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP), and the Ginsberg Center’s Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership.

Many sorts of activities are done at IA. The one most often held is the interfaith dialogue in which each religious organization at campus has a representative (plus anyone else who wants to come), and they will have a discussion over many issues going on in the world. This helps them understand each other better and seeing things from different perspectives. Other programs include regular classes, volunteering at the soup kitchen, and many more!

One major thing I learned from our discussion is that the freedom of choice, religion in this context, is very wide in the USA. Any belief will be tolerated as long as it tolerates others. Others do not have the right to intimidate, even if they do not agree with the presence of that certain sect or religion.

The next thing we did was watch Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. It was a long movie and we only got to half of it. But really, half way was enough to make me understand so many things that I have never even thought of. Like how the Nation of Islam actually started in the US, how Elijah Mohamed had a very big influence on African-Americans at the time, etc.

By three in the afternoon, we were already at the Hatcher Graduate Library to see archives of protest movements in the Labadie Collection. Seeing this archive was very interesting as we had a discussion with the curator of the protest section. Many interesting questions came up, such as how does the archive work when people aren’t reading newspaper anymore? One of my favorite parts was seeing the Indonesian archive of protests. We saw books and posters so delicate and precious, yet never been seen by ourselves in Indonesia. Such as the writings of Multatuli, which was I knew from elementary school books. It was really a great experience.

So there goes the second day! Stay tuned for more stories!

-Fira

Day 1 part 2: The Islamic Center

US Day 1: The Islamic Center

The Islamic Center of America located in Dearborn was the second destination of today’s agenda. Arriving approximately at 2 PM, we were greeted warmly by Eide, one of its committees. Eide is American, but his father was Syrian. His father came to America in the 1910’s as an attempt to run away from the violence towards Shi’a (which he was) by the Sunni. Eide himself practices Shi’a but admits that he is more of a Su-shi, which is the coming together of the two groups, Sunni and Shi’a. Eide is the very few people who live with high respect and tolerance yet still is passionate of Islam. People like Eide are very hard to find even in wider scopes of religion, which is sad. Eide believes that Islam is one thing, and Muslim is another; Christian is one thing and Christianity is another; and the two cannot be combined and seen as one.

Eide explained that the Dearborn Mosque is one of the biggest mosques through out the United States of America. It does not belong to a certain group of people, though most who come are Shi’a. Even so, the mosque provides all instruments needed for the two different sects, such as the pebble or clay for sujud by the Shi’a. The most common ethnicity seen around the Mosque is Arab, but some also come from Asia and Africa. The Mosque is not only used for praying but for holy ceremonials like weddings. The weddings held are done according to the Shariah of Islam, in which music cannot be played and men and women are somewhat kept in a certain distance. Some settings may require women to be in a different kind room from men, in which the woman may take off her hijab and can dance (etc.) once she gets inside the auditorium where the wedding’s held, and men will be escorted to another room for a chat and coffee. During the holidays (such as this summer holiday) the Mosque is packed with little children (approximately 1400), both playing and being part of some learning activity. So basically it is busy all year around.

The people that go this mosque is taught of high tolerance and respect. At Christmas and Hanukkah (and any other possible religious holidays), some delegations are sent to attend the churches and synagogues to wish a happy holiday, or give a gift as a sign of respect. This way the relations and trust of one religion to another becomes stronger and better, and this is what Eide considers to be something very important as an American. Even though America does not formally recognize religion, the presence of religious communities makes one community stronger, and they all may protect each other when one is in harm. So they actually gain power by having faith, though the faith itself varies.

During our hour-long conversation, Eide dominated his part of the discussion by talking about how Sunni and Shi’a takes a big part in the Islamic world of America. He described that the two groups were very different and how very little things can create such a big conflict. However, nowadays some parts of the Islamic community are forming what is known as Su-shi, which is the coming together of the two groups. The coming together happens from marriage of individuals from the two groups, by more activities held together, etc. Eide then asked whether there were any Su-shis in Indonesia. We then explained that the presence of the two groups are not as common as in the States, but there are other Islamic organizations that create a similar divide in the Indonesian Islamic community.

The conversation, to me, was very interesting. The way Eide delivered his sentences and how he described the American Islamic way of living was so passionate. My interpretation of his passion is that Muslims in America really choose to be Islamic and are very sincere in living according to the Qur’an and Hadith. This is something that I may find slightly different from my home country, where there are still people (though maybe not much) that live under the name of Islam but only use it as a formal identification and not actually living it.

Our day ended with a tour of the insides of the Mosque, where Eide explained that he calligraphy on the walls are painted by a Catholic young man who did not wanted to be paid even a penny. He also explained why there was only one door and why there was no dividing between men and women. Again, his explanation was very interesting and I was in awe of everything he was talking about.

So that was the end of USIPP’s first day in America. Stay tuned for more stories!

-Fira

US Day 1: The Pentacostal Church

Hello everyone! This is my first post since arriving in the US, and my first days has been a blast. Today we went to two main destinations, which are the Pineview Pentecostal Church in Ypsilanti and also the Islamic Center in Dearborn. This post will focus more on the Pentecostal and later on there will be a separate post discussing the Islamic Center, since there’s so many things that need to be said. So here it goes…

I am going to start off with a short description of my understanding about the Pentecostals. Pentecostalism is one of the sects of Christianity that emphasizes a direct personal experience of God. The Pentecostals believe in the one God, which is Jesus, who came to the world and put on flesh. They do not believe in the trinity, but rather Jesus as the one God. This belief is seen through the settings of the service in which we cannot see the figure of Jesus, but rather just a cross. This Christianity is built around the Book of Acts, though still uses the other books of the bible. They also consider themselves the Apostle movement. The history of traditional Pentecostal started right after the death of Jesus, but the acts of modern Pentecostals only just came in the 1900s in California. It started out as an organization made up out of different Christianity, such as Catholics and Methodists. Then it grew into a movement and into what it is today.

The Pineview Church itself is a very multicultural church. It was clarified later that Pentecostals really is a church of diverse ethnics and races. This is different from most common churches, in which African-Americans would go to a different church from Hispanics, for example. It is said that Pineview in the early days was dominated by African-Americans, but as time changed people felt welcomed enough to come and join. The people of this church were very welcoming, which was nearly the opposite of what I expected, what with Annisia and I wearing hijab. Everyone came swarming to greet us and ask how we were and who we came from. We were even mentioned in some part of the service, and sure did feel great to be involved.

I would say that nearly everything done before, during, and after the service is quite unfamiliar with what I understood of Christianity. The service was different from what I had in mind, because I thought it was going to be all formal. But came out that everything was somewhat “informal”. There were a lot of dancing around and singing, and people getting into trance. It was breathtaking, and was hard to take everything all in at the same time. A lot of affection was being shown; everyone was hugging everyone else trying to give support. Lively music was sung and kept being repeated, I suppose to let the meaning of each song penetrate inside the body and soul. The service consisted of a couple of parts, starting with the recital of some parts of the Bible, personal prayers (in which an individual would come up front and approach a pastor and ask for support in their prayers, then the pastor would put some oil on their foreheads and they pray together), more choir singing, the sermon for approximately an hour, and the closing choir. It was explained to me by the US participants that Catholic, Protestant, and even Baptist Church isn’t that lively, and nearly every ritual was done differently despite the fact that all are sects of Christianity.

Later after the service ended we had the Chance to meet Nathaniel Nix, who is the senior pastor in Pineview. Nat has been a senior pastor for the last 11 years. He is the fifth generation of pastor in his family, and the third generation of the family of dedicates to Pineview. Nat confesses that he is known to be radical in the community and often gets into trouble for what he says, especially his belief of anti-religion. Nat believes that there is no use in religion, human are only to worship the one God without having to do with religion. Though seen as a quite radical person there are things said by Nat that made sense to whoever hears his words. During the service, he was telling a story of how he went for a drive with his son and saw an airplane and how in awe he was with it. He stated that the law of aerodynamics are greater than the law of gravity, thus the chunk of metal can still be suspended in the air and fight gravity. This is like the law of good and bad and human are to believe that the power of the good is much greater than the bad, and no matter what, human will survive. Some other things that he said was more universal and would be found in every religion or faith: everyone is created equal; life is short, and so on, so forth. Nat has also been all around the world for service and has actually been in Indonesia. So one thing I would be brave enough to say is that no matter what you believe in, and how you believe it, people should spend some time serving for those in need, and finding what else there is to up with in this “crazy” world, as he put it.

This really was a great experience, and a great opening to the Summer Program in America. Thank you everyone!

Day 4!

Time flies by and it has been 6 days since the arrival of the US participants. We have done so many things and a lot has happened. The excitement is felt until this very day.
Today we were split up into two teams: The Lehigh team, which consisted of Jack, Fulvia, Anne Marie, Annisia, and myself; The Michigan team, which consisted of Kate, Carrie, Ellen, Fikar and Binar. Earlier this morning each teams went to different Mosques: Masjid Syuhada and Masjid Perak Kotagede. My team went to Masjid Syuhada. It is said that Masjid Syuhada was a gift from the first president of Indonesia, Ir. Soekarno. He was also the person who designed the building. This Mosque is not only historical but it is also center for Islamic Education: from kindergarten right up until higher education. We were greeted warmly by one of the committee of the board. He is now an English teacher in the High School, and is also working as the secretary of the board. Our visit there was delightful, and everyone was so nice. After being greeted, the Muslim men left for Friday prayer and the rest of us went on a short tour of the elementary school. We met a very nice English teacher. She took us around and explained what this and that was, and we actually got the chance to talk to some students (who are mostly in kindergarten). It was a great school and they were lucky to have such loving teachers. The children were also nice, well, they were adorable. We saw a couple of girls wave to us from behind a fence. It seemed like they want to know more about the bules (foreigners). It’s a shame that we didn’t have that enough time. We went back to the main building (or Mosque, should I say) and waited for the Friday prayer to finish. A couple of minutes later, the prayer finished and we had a small and short discussion over light snacks. It wasn’t long until it was time for us to go.
Personally, I think the next destination is more interesting. It may be due to the fact that I go to a Mosque every day, and I have never been in such a place which was our next destination. Guess what it is? It’s a church! So my first visited church is Gereja Ganjuran in Bantul. This church is very unique, it was quite overwhelming, remembering the fact that this is my first time in church and everything is different from the “usual”. Gereja Ganjuran is a church formed or built based on the Catholic and Javanese teaching. One interesting thing is that the statue of Jesus is in the form of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono, and most of the figures there were inculturated with Javanese imagery. Another interesting thing is the presence of a temple located somewhere at the back of the church. People pray inside the temple, in which a Jesus statue sits (also in the form of the Sultan). The place was really shady with lots of trees around. One weird thing is that Christmas tree also grows there, whereas it is so far from mountains, where the pines really live.
I learned so many things today, both in the journey to the Mosque and the Church. One thing I remember most and will hopefully always remember is that we have to see who people are, how they live, and what they believe before making any judgements. Thus no misunderstandings happened.
I cannot wait for a another day of fun. See you tomorrow guys, ciao!

-Zafira

Info info info!

Today was a day loaded with so many prestigious information, I would even say that I had information overload!

We started off the day like usual, bright sunny day and a new breakfast for the American students. This time it is Nasi Kuning and all its accessories (abon, telur kornet and oseng-oseng tempe). At approximately 08.30 we headed for Universitas Islam Negeri Yogyakarta (Islamic State University Yogyakarta) for a seminar by Professor François Burgat. Mr. Burgat is a political scientist and is a Senior Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Science. Mr. Burgat has spent over than 20 years in middle-east countries: Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria. He spoke about the basic characteristic of culture in the middle east and why people power occurs now, and not earlier. Also why it happens in the middle east and not in other areas. As an example Algeria is a country that has been colonized by the French for more than a decade, and it previously did not have any freedom to speak. Thus the moment they were decolonized they became out of hand and all sorts of groups started to surface.This is actually similar to the situation faced by Indonesia after “Reformasi 1998”. Mr. Burgat also explained that the condition of African countries when being compared are different. For instance Algeria was colonized while Tunisia was led by a protectorate. This difference made a huge effect to their development in the future. The Algerians who were colonized and was not given any choice had a hard time adjusting to freedom, whilst Tunisia with the protectorates still had indigenous identities, though very small.

The lecture flew by, and it was time for lunch. We had quite a quick lunch in Pandanaran Sagan, and shortly after that went to the Multimedia Room, Faculty of Law UGM.

Our next speaker was Ibu Nunuk Murniati, who is a human rights defender, as well as for women and feminism.  Ibu Nunuk is a very experienced woman who has devoted her life for her passion and love of equality. She believes that in order to make people understand the concept of human rights, the best approach is culture. So if she was to teach people in Batak, she would have them chat over tuak (traditional wine). This would vary form place to place, according to each customs. Ibu Nunuk stated that making a balance between human rights (democracy) and culture is not an easy thing, and the best way to figure it out would be through dialogues. It might not be a discussion, but it could be anything that would make it easier for the community to give trust to this one researcher/person in charge.

Our last speaker is Mr Tangkuman Alexander Imanuel, who is a representative from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He explained that the Foreign Affairs and United States of America has many programs that builds both ways and that there are to be more and more exchanges of students in particular in the near future. It became an interesting discussion of how the number of Indonesian students who come study in the US is a whole lot more than the US students who come to Indonesia. There was also a moment of sharing experience between participants who had already have the change to study in the US and what they expect in the relationship of America and Indonesia. It was very fortunate for us to have Mr. Washington from the US Embassy Jakarta, who looked in and shared his points of views with us.

As I said before, so many prestigious information was gained and I’m trying very hard to fit it all my head! So again, I will see you all tomorrow on another daily report for our great and adventurous journey.

Thank you