|Tanielle is from the big red dot.|
Semi-structured, semi-formal interview.
Found Tanielle in Gamelan class, bought food from her (amazing Indonesian steam buns). She has led out in extracurricular Indonesian cultural events, including dance and presenting at World Fest. She is our "resident Indonesian" and makes the gamelan legit. Also, she is super friendly. I approached her at gamelan practice and worked out a time to ask her a few questions, and explained a bit of what the assignment for the class was.
Met in the HFAC, found a comfortable set of chairs, and talked for ~30 minutes.
From my notebook:
Possible topics of discussion:
"How you met your husband"
circumstances surrounding coming to the states
Involvement in Gamelan
What effect does it have on your feeling of being Indonesian?
We talk about the social implications of gamelan frequently - kotekan, omback, etc. Do you think these characterizations are accurate? Why or why not?
You are involved with a lot of uniquely Indonesian endeavors - cooking, Gamelan, dance. What drives your participation in these activities? How does participation make you feel?
Other things besides food, music, dance?
Is it important to you to identify with your cultural background, and why?
Music in General
Who are some of your favorite artists?
What exposure did you have to western pop music growing up? What seemed to be popular in Indonesia?
What musics besides Western musics did people listen to? Local, Chinese, Arabic, India, etc.
Beginning of interview notes:
Surabaya - island next to Bali on Java. 2nd largest city in Java
Dad's from US
Mom Chinese by blood, grew up in Indonesia
Oldest, 2 younger brothers
Grew up LDS
LDS 1 stake for all Indonesia, recently established
religious diversity depends on Island - some religions congregate in certain areas
First attended BYU Hawaii
Undergrad degree - Biochemistry. Met husband (Tahitian) while at BYU-H.
Biochem - pregnancy disorders (premature births, preeclampsia, etc.)
US citizen, but wouldn't consider self American
Would self identify as "Indonesian, mainly, but my Mom's Chinese"
Doesn't want to forget heritage or lose it
Looking to posterity - preservation of culture and family values for the next generation
Stays in contact w/ Indonesian students on BYU campus
Participated in World Fest 2011
BYU Provo less diverse than BYU-H
musical concepts different in Bali than in Surabaya, so not all the concepts discussed in Balinese Gamelan translate
Course in schools in Indonesia reflects cultural values:
every island is different, so unity is important
What does it mean to be Indonesian, if there are so many differences between local island cultures?
Indonesia wanted out from under colonized rule, so united and kicked out the colonizers (Dutch ruled ~300 years, other countries took over from time to time).
- Indonesian - modern, Arabic +
- Dang-dut - blend of Arab, Indian
- Angklung - traditional, mostly idiophonic instruments
- Each province teaches particular songs @ school, relative to local and folk traditions
- Backstreet Boys, etc., also a presence
- Mom is Chinese, so listened to that as well
- Regular music course for elementary schools includes traditional music
- " dance
- western influence increasing
Justin Bieber just did a concert in Indonesia
- TV, internet, media
- some disparity between villages & cities as far as media access is concerned (I [Beau] wondered about the availability of internet, etc. in the smaller islands)
Each island has capital, and capitals are, generally, fully modern
- West won't hurt Indonesia if schools & families keep exposure to tradition high (in response to "Does the influx of Western culture feel like a threat to Indonesian traditions?)
- Parents lived in Idaho
felt like they had to raise their kids in Indonesia/abroad somewhere
Tanielle would still be Indo-Chinese-American, even if grew up in Idaho, and she is
grateful to have grown up in Indonesia
In Indonesia, her parents spoke English at home so that the kids would be enabled. Tanielle only visited the states once before going to BYU-H, for Christmas as the house of some relatives. The English paid off, and even though it was strange to be meeting so many new people at once, they were family and so were welcoming.
Hopes for Tanielle's kids/family
keep all languages
Indonesian, Chinese (Mandarin - Tanielle is conversant) English, also French and perhaps Fijian due to her husbands background
exposure to events
Chinese New Year, festivals
Indonesian independence day
As I reflect on these notes, I realize that the issue of the preservation of culture is impossible to pick into parts and force to stay separate. Everything, at least for Tanielle, goes into preserving culture for herself and her future children. The festivals, foods, musics, dances, and other traditions play off of and into each other to create experiences to help create identity with each of the cultures involved. Tanielle's kids will be Indonesian-Chinese-Tahitian-Americans, and that is a bit of a daunting yet exciting prospect. I will have to look into how music in Tibet dovetails into other aspects of cultural expression. It was also interesting to note her reaction towards the West coming into Surabaya - of course they listened to Backstreet Boys, but as long as the rising generation is encouraged by institutions and families to appreciate its heritage, the Backstreet Boys will never completely replace Angklung. I felt a bit of the sadness the Western threat must bring when the thought arises, "But what if the kids just don't want to anymore?" What if the young generation sheds its Indonesian-ness for a created, unauthentic Western archetype? The vibe I got from Tanielle was that it isn't likely to get that bad, but the thought itself is bad enough.
Probably one of the most wonderful things was the ease with which Tanielle seems to navigate cultural landscapes. I'm sure it isn't easy, and that hiccups have happened along the way, but here is a woman who is actively participating in all aspects of modern life, including tradition and cultural pride as part of it. I thought I might get a sense of conflictedness, but I got just the opposite - here is a person who seems very comfortable with the incredible diversity of her own life.
This whole thing was a great experience. I am excited to practice, get better at, and do more of it. Thank goodness for such a willing participant!