Cultural Course for Darmasiswa students: From Batik to Waterfall

For a week from October 9-15, 2017, Darmasiswa students of Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS) participated in a short course organized by UNS International Office. Within the course, they were taken to several cultural sites in Solo and the surrounding to learn the culture of Java.

In 2017, UNS admits 12 students from 7 countries i.e. Peru, Germany, Poland, Egypt, India, Vietnam, and Myanmar to study Indonesian language for a year through scholarship program of Darmasiswa, a program by Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. The main purpose of the program is to promote and increase the interest in the language, art, and culture of Indonesia among youth of other countries. It has also been designed to provide stronger cultural links and understanding among participating countries.

Accommodating those purposes, International Office of UNS provides services in the form of cultural events and activities intended for the participants. As they first arrived at the university, they were brought to the city of Solo to give them a look of how Java and the culture is. In addition, they were also taken to some cultural sites in Solo and the surrounding such as museum, palace, and temples. However, it was carried out only in a short period.

To give more perspectives about Indonesian culture, especially Javanese, International Office of UNS held a cultural course for a week. Within this course, they were introduced more closely to the culture of Java.

On the first day, Monday October 9, they visited Omah Batik Laweyan, a production house of Batik in Laweyan district, where hundreds of written Batik with various motifs were displayed. Not only taking a look at the Batik collections and witnessing the process of making Batik, they also tried to make one. They were introduced to the equipment and technique, and with the guidance from the mistresses, they drew written Batik.

Course participants following the Ibu’s guidance of how to hold the “canting” and take the “malam” to best draw the batik without spoiling the malam on the fabric

On the following day, the participants visited Mangkunegaran Palace, one of two palaces in Solo. Aside from being the house of Royal Family of Mangkunegara, this palace is also operated as a museum. The participants were brought around the palace and learned several things such as the building structure and the philosophy, the history, and the collection of things and belongings of the kings and queens from old times. It was unfortunate however, because they didn’t have the opportunity to witness the play of gamelan and traditional dance performance.

Arriving at Mangkunegaran palace, participants were welcomed by Mrs. Endang to the palace hall where gamelan music and traditional dance were performed regularly.

Javanese culture features beautiful traditional outfits. Aside from Batik, Javanese people usually dress up in special attire for formal occasions and weddings. For males, it is called Jawi Jangkep, and for females it is Kebaya. Participants of the course had a chance to try the attire on.

Some participants posing in Javanese traditional attire

Handicraft products are also a part of Javanese rich culture. Woven bamboo, carved furniture, ceramics, and many more handmade creations are produced in Java. During the course, participants also visited a center of handmade umbrella in Juwiring village, Klaten. They were taken to witness the process of creating the umbrella from the framing to the painting.

After seeing the process of making the umbrella body, participants were pleased to paint the umbrella with whatever motifs they wanted

At the end of the course, they learned Javanese medicines “Jamu”, traditional medicament made of herbs and spices, in Jejamon Park,Tawangmangu, Karanganyar. Unfortunately, they had only chance to have a taste of the Jamu but not witnessing the process of making it. From the park, they moved to a fresher place, one of the most visited natural tourism spots in Tawangmangu—Jumog waterfall. Java has a number of mountains thus it has lots of waterfalls, and it has been common place for people to have a picnic or gathering, turning such places into cultural spots.

Participants listening to the mistress’ explanation about Jamu “Beras Kencur”, “Kunyit Asem”, and “Wedang Uwuh” before trying them
Theu and Vy, darmasiswa students from Vietnam, enjoying the breeze of the waterfall area

In addition to providing more perspectives of Indonesian, especially Javanese culture to the participants, this course also enabled them to interact directly with locals and practice their Indonesian language. Apart from this course, International Office of UNS also organizes other programs intended for international students to promote better cultural understanding like Sharing Day and UNS Goes to Village.