Blog: Nirwana, a sneak peek into Indonesia’s cultural paradise

This blog post was co-authored by the IISMA awardees of the University of Liverpool – the IISMA is a scholarship scheme by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to fund Indonesian students for mobility programs at top universities around the world.

There was a famous quote said by Indonesia’s first president and their founding fathers; ”Do not, even once, deliberately neglect and forget your own history.” This quote then became words of encouragement for 25 Indonesian students within the IISMA (Indonesian International Student Mobility Awards) scholarship scheme who are currently studying at the University of Liverpool to embrace and preserve their heritage. On a cold Monday morning of October, you could already see them bustling around the Liverpool Guild of Students corridor to prepare a pop-up exhibition for celebrating their Indonesian National Heroes Day (24 October 2022).

The set for the exhibition was small yet rich. Their notably prominent corner was the mading–short for majalah dinding (Indonesian for “wall magazine”)–of the Indonesian map filled with content of handwritten national heroes stories, local folktales, traditional foods, and tourist destinations. The mading essentially brought upon all beloved goods from back home, packed into one arrangement of curated content to be introduced to visitors.

The entire event was well-organised and filled with national spirit and love. You could see it from the array of displays about traditional attire like batik, blangkon, and wayang. The students had prepared a barcode for a free digital recipe book filled with delicious Indonesian dishes that the attendees could scan. They could take pictures at the designated photobooth with Indonesian props such as wayang, batik scarf, and udeng as well. Not only introducing Indonesian culture visually, there was also a booth for trivia quizzes about Indonesia where visitors could win some Indonesian souvenirs, ranging from angklung (a traditional Indonesian musical instrument) keychains, batik bookmarks, and komodo magnets.

Ida Bagus Raditya Avanindra Mahaputra, familiarly known as Tugus, the group’s coordinator, said that he was quite worried to prepare the event in such a short time with new people. However, he trusted his team. Teamwork makes the dream work indeed. The event brought upon spectacular memories for both the visitors and the coordinators alike.

In addition to the exhibition, the group also performed the Balinese Kecak Dance at the Global Opportunities Fair on November 3, 2022. Dressed in all black, they drew the attention of passers by around University Square with their dance and chants. Satisfied smiles were seen all over their faces after the successful performance—a testament to the hard work that they had put in to rehearse the traditional dance together.

With events like Nirwana, the 25 University of Liverpool IISMA awardees hope that a lot more people are made aware of Indonesia’s rich cultural background and are enthusiastic to learn more about it in the future.