Indonesian puppet theater brings new aspects of culture to student body


Every Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Memorial Union Building (MUB) Entertainment Center hosts Cultural Connections, an event co-sponsored by the MUB and Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS). Every week, a different student delivers an original presentation on a topic of their choice, aimed to culturally educate the audience.
“I think [Cultural Connections] is a good way to introduce people to my culture,” Michelle Cheng, last week’s presenter and a senior chemical engineering major, said. She presented on Indonesian puppet theater –something very important to her culture.
Originally from Indonesia herself, Cheng took the event as an opportunity to learn more about her own culture and to educate people of various background on a culturally significant topic.
“I want people to learn more about the art culture in Indonesia,” Cheng said, “Personally I was not taught about that a lot, so when I was doing research on that, I got to learn more.”
In her presentation, Cheng talked about the origins of puppet theater in Indonesia, the process of the audience’s engagement with it and its specific cultural significance. Throughout the event, Cheng asked the audience questions on certain aspects of the presentation. Those who got the answers right were gifted a puppet –a version of those used in the theater performances.“
It was really interesting,” Shadi Zamani, a chemical engineering major from India, said. “And it forced us to be more involved and pay more attention.”
The event had a large audience consisting both of U.S. and international students. In addition to the cultural education, the visitors enjoyed Indonesian desserts and hot beverages.
The upcoming Cultural Connections event will feature a presentation by Yu Zhou with the topic Brought Up by Chinese Grandparents.