The Study Abroad Newsletter

Indonesian Gamelan

By Kayleigh Beattie | National Student Exchange: State University of New York, Plattsburgh

An important part of Kawili Kine Cultures is becoming oriented and educated about the cultural events and places you’ll go to before exploring and experiencing them. So, before going to the East Hawaiʻi Cultural Center there was an information session from Maya Soetoro-Ng, faculty specialist at the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawai'i as well as Wiwik Dharmiasih of the East-West Center about traditional Indonesian culture, and the modernization of Indonesian culture. During the information session, we were able to ask the guest speakers questions that we had.

A great question that came up concerned how to travel to places like Indonesia respectfully, if we should at all. It allowed us to further discuss how to be respectful and educated while traveling and how to help combat the negative aspects of tourism.

Students in Workshop

After the information session, we had the opportunity to go to the East Hawai'i Cultural Center to learn about different types of traditional Indonesian instruments and how to play them. First, we learned that many of the instruments are low-standing instruments that require you to sit on the floor as you play them.

We also learned that each instrument has its own hammer and notes to play. Another part of our learning included understanding the cultural aspects, rituals, and rules that came with playing the instruments. For example, one of the most important rules to remember is to never let the instruments “see” the soles of your feet; meaning that no one should ever step over the instruments. This may seem like an unusual rule to have, but it is out of respect for the instruments and the energy they carry with them. It was a truly great experience to learn and experience a small part of such an amazing culture.

Student with Instruments