Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change
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Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Educational excursions along with field visits to foundations and NGOs engaged in contemporary social challenges in Bali are designed to directly complement and enhance classroom study and fieldwork. The program includes visits to important historic and cultural sites, temple festivals, and other religious rituals, performances, and local ceremonies outside the program's home base.
Java: History, Islam, and the Arts
The program includes two weeks in Java, the most populous island in Indonesia, with a cultural and colonial history quite distinct from predominantly Hindu Bali. Java is the center of modern political and economic power in contemporary Indonesia, as well as the home to a majority Muslim population.
Java is also well-known as the original home of tempe and batik textiles, the site of some of the most famous ancient temples of Southeast Asia, and also fascinating court arts.
Students have easy access to lecturers from universities such as Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and Universitas Sanata Darma (Sadar) as well as to the intellectual and artist communities of Yogyakarta.
The time in Java also includes visits to Borobudur and Prambanan, important Buddhist and Hindu monuments, and homestays with Javanese families who are mostly Muslims.
Lectures and excursions focus on the major religions and philosophies represented in the area, the famous court arts of Java, and the way that social change is expressed through the arts and education in Islamic schools and universities. There are many opportunities to practice the Indonesian language, including with homestay families and with Indonesian student “peer counselors.”
While in Java, students also have firsthand experience in making batik with local experts and see a ballet version of the Hindu epic the Ramayana.
Students spend between four and six days in a rural farming village in the Tabanan district of Bali, one of the leading regions for Indonesian rice production. During their time in Tabanan, students have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and the unique practices of subak societies, which govern rice-field irrigation. Many students choose to test their own rice planting skills, learn about traditional medicines, prepare a traditional Balinese feast, play sports with village children, and learn Indonesia's peculiar and widely influential traditional music, gamelan. This excursion is an excellent opportunity for students to examine how the arts are configured in traditional rural settings of Bali, where religious activities are still closely tied to agricultural cycles and rhythms, as well as intergenerational continuity and change in contemporary cultural practices in a North Bali village. A highlight of the visit is the opportunity to engage with a group of Indonesian university students from the English language programs of Udayana University and Warmadewa University in Denpasar.
This three- or four-day excursion takes students to the mountains of central Bali, and along the north and east (or sometimes west) coast. The high point of this excursion is a round-table discussion on the religious and cultural diversity of the north coast with staff and students of IHDN (Institute of Hindu Dharma Indonesia). This discussion is followed by a joint excursion the following day that takes SIT and IHDN students to several Chinese temples and to the Buddhist monastery and to the fishing village of Sangsit. In Sangsit, the groups jointly meet with community leaders, villagers, and children in a visit to the area's mosque, where students often participate in an impromptu dance event to the accompaniment of a Buginese-style gamelan ensemble, which is slightly different from the Balinese gamelan.
This excursion grants students an exceptional opportunity to observe firsthand Bali's geographic and cultural diversity. During the trip through the mountainous area of the Kintamani ridge, students may have the opportunity to stop at Sukawana, a Balinese village that maintains an old form of social organization based on an "age hierarchy." Students may also visit at least one of the village's major temple sites. If the weather permits, the students also can climb Mt. Batur, the second largest mountaion in Bali after Mt. Agung.
During this one-day excursion, students attend lectures at Udayana University while becoming acquainted with the facilities of this highly important partner institution. They also meet and interact with the Indonesian and Balinese students who join the group during the village visit.
Many students take advantage of the excursion to Denpasar to locate contacts for their future Independent Study Project within the community of journalists, intellectuals, and artists who live and work in the area. Though the city lacks towering skyscrapers, Denpasar is decidedly urban, and students have the opportunity to explore the city's large bookstores and shopping centers, observing the way business operates outside Bali's central tourist zone.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Bedulu, central southern Bali
Language Study: Bahasa Indonesia, Balinese
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