In the 1990s, the Australian federal government offered extra funding to schools that taught Indonesian as a LOTE. My rural Victorian school took them up on that offer, and so in 1993, at the age of 14, I found myself in an Indonesian language class, knowing nothing about the country or the people or…anything, really.
In 1995 I was offered the chance to go overseas on a high school student exchange -and I chose to go to Indonesia. Mostly because it was cheaper than Europe, and by this point I could at least count and greet people in bahasa Indonesia, which I figured gave me a leg-up in communication.
From mid 1995-mid 1996 I lived in Yogyakarta with a local family and my world exploded. I was immersed in the people, the culture, the day-to-day life, the music, art, cuisine… just everything! All the formal Indonesian I had learnt flew out my brain, never to return, and what came flooding in was the language spoken by the people.
And now I try to return every 2 years or so. Take a lot of time off work, and head to Indonesia to have a wander around a different island, and catch up with my keluarga.
And ‘budhe’? That’s Javanese. It means ‘aunt’.
BudheBulik is something that’s been floating around my head for years. After living in country, I understood that Indonesia was much more than just batik, wayang, and dance. And I want people to see this.
I was asked once to contribute a few chapters’ worth of exercises to a LOTE textbook. Because, according to the editor, I had the mindset of a teenager, and knew what would appeal to them. And talking with teacher friends I have come to think that a problem with the way we teach bahasa Indonesia in Australia is a failure to make the students see that our Indonesian friends are just like us – we have so many similarities. It’s not all high-culture, there’s plenty of shopping malls and pop-culture as well.
I wanted to create a resource that teachers could peruse and plunder for ideas. I went through many iterations of how this would happen, but I’ve just decided now to throw it all up on line and let you all at it. Consider it an explosion of all the things I love or find interesting about Indonesia.