The UNH United Asian Coalition (UAC) hosted Indonesia Night in the Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Granite State Room on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 5–9 p.m. UAC teamed up with the International Student Organization to supply funding and volunteers for the event, while the Indonesian Students Association provided and planned all of the food, performances and costumes. Though they aren’t yet a recognized organization, the Indonesian Students Association is in the process of gaining recognition.
With the Seacoast New Hampshire area being home to the second largest Indonesian population outside Indonesia itself, according to an event flyer, the event was well attended. Students were admitted for free and non-student tickets were sold for $4.
For the first hour or so, attendees could have their photos taken in a makeshift photo booth with Indonesian-styled props. Tables were also set up along both sides of the room. Authentic Indonesian artifacts were displayed on one side, including maps of Indonesia and handcrafted poster boards with tidbits of information on Indonesian culture. Standing at these tables and answering questions was sophomore computer engineering major Alvin Lagu, who is an international student from Jayapura, Indonesia. Lagu said that he plans on getting his masters from UNH once he obtains his undergraduate degree.
On the opposite side of the room was what had everybody talking: the food. Savory aromas filled the room as guests took their seats around 6 p.m. Each dish was prepared twice, a spicy and non-spicy option, giving guests the chance to choose based on their personal tastes. Each tray was labeled with the name of the food in Indonesian and its English translation written underneath. A few examples of the food being served were Sambal Goreng Teri Kacang (chili paste with anchovies and peanuts), Ayam Kecap (chicken with sweet soy sauce) and Telur Dadar and Ketimun (omelet and cucumber).
Senior nursing major Marin Strong attended the event as a guest in a dress she made in Indonesia during the months she spent in central Java. It was through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, after graduating high school and before applying to college, that she was provided the opportunity to live there. Reflecting on how she adapted to the language barrier, she said, “For the first three months, I was very lost.” However, she said on Saturday that she was still able to translate some of the Indonesian words displayed around the room.
The main event kicked off with a performance of a traditional Indonesian war dance. Performers donned feather headdresses and bells, and swung swords and spears as they re-enacted a battle and victory celebration.
Following the war dance, the event’s emcees, senior Auderien Monareh and junior Eden Suoth took the stage. “I’m very thankful [for] and mindful of the place I came from,” Suoth said regarding Indonesia. Throughout the night, the two introduced various guest speakers and gave context to multiple performances, such as a traditional Balinese dance called Tati Bali; “Tati” meaning a dance that incorporates the movement of the hands and eyes in sync with the body.
Guest speakers included, but were not limited to, State Senator and UNH English professor, David Watters and Consulate General of Indonesia Abdul Kadir, who traveled from New York for the event.
Watters attended the event on behalf of Governor Maggie Hassan. He concluded his speech by saying, “…at this time particularly, in the middle of an election campaign, I see the future is going to be a vibrant New Hampshire that welcomes new communities and ensures economic opportunity.”