|Southeast Asian Studies Spotlight: Master’s Agustinus Budi Winursito|
Agustinus Budi Winursito (Budi) is a first-year masterís student in the Southeast Asian Studies (SEAS) program. Budi joins us here at Ohio University from the island of Java, Indonesia. Recently we interviewed Budi about his life in Java, his motivations for joining the SEAS program, and his thoughts about Athens. The transcript of the interview appears below.
SEAS: Budi, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? What was that like? (that is, your experience growing up where you did Ė by what people and cultures were you surrounded? Religions? What types of activities informed your daily life?)
ABW: I come from Magelang in Central Java, which is located about 65 km to the north of Yogyakarta. Magelang is a very special town because it is surrounded by four big mountains, including Mount Merapi. It used to be part of the old Mataram kingdom as is clearly seen from the Buddhist temples in the area. Borobudur, for example, which is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, is located in Magelang. It is only about fifteen minutes from my home.
Growing up in a Javanese family, I learned that paying respect to others, especially oneís elders, is considered to be of the highest value. When we interact with elders, we are very polite--for example, it is considered impolite to address elders only by name. Instead, we use the word "Bapak" (for older male) and "Ibu" (for older female) before their names. Being polite can also be shown in one's mannerisms when around elders. Putting one's legs on the table or crossing your legs in front of the elders are also considered impolite behaviors.
Editorís note: Mount Merapi erupted on October 25, 2010, killing and injuring thousands of people and displacing many others. For more information on the aftermath of the eruption, see http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/11/mount_merapis_eruptions.html
SEAS: Was your family directly affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi?
ABW: Well, my family lives about 30km from Mt Merapi. During the last eruption they did not have to take refugee, but they were affected by volcanic ash, rain, and sometimes sand. On some days the ash was so thick that they had to stay in the house because nothing was visible outside.
SEAS: We are certainly glad to hear that no one in your family was injured, although it is clear that they were affected by it.
ABW: My sister actually volunteered to help the refugees from the eruption.
SEAS: How was education, especially higher education (both undergraduate and graduate), perceived where you are from? Is it something common? Or it is something really rare?
ABW: Education is very highly valued in Indonesia. Parents will do anything to send their children to school with hopes for a better future.
SEAS: Budi, what brought you here to Ohio University and the Southeast Asian Studies program? How did you come to learn about the program? What made you choose to enter the Southeast Asian Studies masterís program?
ABW: I heard about Ohio University from a friend of mine who is taking her masterís degree in Linguistics at the moment. I remember her mentioning Southeast Asian studies and that there was an opportunity for masterís student in the program to teach Indonesian language as a teaching assistant. I considered that this would be a good chance for me to learn about my own country through the perspective of western education.
Budi with some of his students in Australia.
SEAS: How are you planning to focus your studies here at OU? Is there a particular topic you plan to pursue? (We realize that you have just started the program and this focus may indeed change as you progress in the program and come to know more faculty and ideas).
ABW: I completed my undergraduate studies in education at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta, and have been working as a teacher ever since I graduated.
Editorís note: Budi went to Australia in February 2008, and together with other Indonesian teachers, taught bahasa Indonesia at various primary schools and high schools for one year. Upon finishing the Indonesian-LOTE, Budi returned to Indonesia and served as a principal for a branch of an English course called ILP (International Language Programs) in Gading Serpong, Tangerang
Thus I plan to continue to study educational theory and practice. However , I am also interested in Indonesian history. Iíd like to combine the two, so during my study at Ohio University, I may focus on the links between education and social movements in Indonesia.
SEAS: You are an Indonesian language instructor. What do you think is the most challenging thing about Indonesian language for American students? Tell us a little about your experiences in the classroom so far.
ABW: The sentence structure in Indonesian language is generally simpler than in English. However, some students might find the pronunciation of some Indonesian consonants a little bit challenging. We are currently in the third week of the quarter, and we have learned some basic sentences in Indonesian and videotaped some conversation practice as one of the assignments.
SEAS: Have you traveled outside of Indonesia? Where? What were your impressions of those places? (if there are many you can just discuss one or two).
ABW: Yes. In 2008, I worked as a language assistant for LOTE (Language Other Than English) in some public schools in Western Australia. It was my first experience of living in another country and I loved it. The biggest thing that impressed me was seeing how clean and well-planned the cities were.
SEAS: What are your impressions of Athens and of Ohio University?
ABW: During my stay in Australia, I also spent six months in a country town called Margaret River. I find that Athens is similar to Margaret River. When I first arrived here in August, however, I was very surprised to find how empty the town was. It was so different from Tangerang and Jakarta, where I lived during the past two years. Later, I learned this was because most of the students were still on summer holiday.
SEAS: What are your plans for the future? What would you like to see yourself doing five years from now?
ABW: Teaching has been one of my passions, but I have always wanted to represent Indonesia abroad. Thus upon finishing my studies at Ohio University, I want to apply to be a diplomat in Indonesiaís Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
SEAS: If you could leave us with one final thought or impression about yourself, what would it be?
ABW: I like to learn about and interact with people from different cultures, particularly about their music and languages.
Budi in Magelang, Java.
Borobodur Temple can be seen in the background
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