Exploring Beyond Evergreen: Locally Grounded in Indonesia

By Amy R. Wolfson, Ph.D.,  |  Photos by Amy R. Wolfson, Ph.D.

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We have just a few more days left of traveling and being with friends and colleagues in Southeast Asia. It has been a beautiful, meaningful, and precious time. As we talk about global citizenship at Loyola and beyond, it is striking to share that in celebration of Sanata Dharma Psychology Department’s 20th anniversary the theme of our conference is “Locally Grounded, Globally Connected.” Sanata Dharma University is Indonesia’s Jesuit Catholic University located in Yogyakarta (Yogya), Indonesia.

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After leaving Taiwan, Jen Lowry and Andre Colombat spent a few days in Osaka, Japan, visiting Kansai Gaidai University while my husband, Andy, and I flew to Yogya for an international psychology conference, to meet with the president and vice president for collaboration and alumni affairs, and to experience life in Yogya and later Bali.

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I was last in Yogya in 2007 with two College of the Holy Cross colleagues; at the time we spent a week working with the Sanata Dharma University Psychology faculty on pedagogy, curriculum, and research. So, it is personally and professionally special to reconnect with colleagues, to meet current SDU students, and other colleagues from Japan, Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere at the conference.

Yogyakarta is the capital of Yogyakarta Special Region in Java, Indonesia and is known as the center of education for the country. Over the last few days, we visited the Taman Sari Water Castle (former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogykarta) and Barabudur (9th century Buddhist Temple in Central Java), enjoyed a variety of traditional Indonesia foods including a lunch made of mushrooms, chicken satay, fried rice, gado-gado (vegetable dish), and ikan bakar (grilled fish), and loved the multi-ethnic music and dance.

Andy and I have been so taken with our SDU colleagues and students’ hospitality, graciousness, and sense of community. For example, my colleague, Professor Debri Pristinella and two of her students took a few of us to Barabudur and the mushroom lunch on Thursday.

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Earlier in the week, I spent the afternoon with the president of Sanata Dharma University, Johanes Eka Priyaatma, Ph.D., and the vice rector for collaboration and alumni affairs, Ouda Teda Ena, Ed.D., where we discussed collaborative opportunities for faculty and students between Sanata Dharma and Loyola. They were most gracious and our meeting concluded with a traditional lunch. Yes, I’ve been eating a lot over the last two weeks!

The International Conference on Psychology, People’s Search for Meaning through Ethnicity, Culture, and Religion: Psychology’s role in Handling Conflicts and Sustaining Harmony in Multicultural Society, was small which allowed us to have rich dialogue after the talks and panel presentations.

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For example, following my session (included two talks: “Social Determinants of Children’s Sleep Health” and “Local Wisdom, Social Capital, and Psikologi Nusantara”), one of my colleagues challenged us to consider, “Is all psychology indigenous vs. generalizable across humans?” Furthermore, many of the speakers focused on ways in which psychology can and must play a role in understanding, preventing, and intervening in conflict around the world.

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On Friday night the approximately 70 conference speakers and participants enjoyed dinner under a tent on SDU’s campus.  During dinner the SDU students performed Balinese, Javanese, and other Indonesian songs and dances. The beautiful, moving evening ended with the singers and dancers including us in the final dance—we learned the steps and danced away with our new friends and colleagues.

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After several days in Yogya, Andy and I are off for a few final days in Bali. It has been an extraordinary trip. Undoubtedly, I have been reminded on this trip of how we learn about the other and ourselves by spending intentional time with others in their cultures, listening to their stories, and learning about their collective memories.

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And, along the way, we create new memories and communities as we share meals, experience the arts, visit historical monuments, and so much more.

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1 Comment

  • Posted by Chin-Mei Malia Maniyatt | August 13, 2016

    I am very happy to read your journey to my country of birth – Indonesia, where I spent my childhood till I moved to Taiwan at 18 years old. Thank you for sharing your valuable research with the people at my native country! I also glad to see the image of Sate, as that’s my favorite food which I miss everyday!

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