Cultural experience

oe Hatton from Bobin Public School and Jasmine Booth, Bree Hosemans and Hannah Donolato from Elands Public School learning Indonesian style dancing from teacher Jade Dewi.
oe Hatton from Bobin Public School and Jasmine Booth, Bree Hosemans and Hannah Donolato from Elands Public School learning Indonesian style dancing from teacher Jade Dewi.

INDONESIAN culture came to Wingham last week with a professional troupe of performers conducting hands-on workshops for local students.

On Tuesday the workshops were held at Wingham High School and were joined by students at Wingham Brush School. Wednesday saw the smaller schools of the area meet at Wingham Public School to take part in the educational classes.

Students were immersed in the Indonesian culture, experiencing three workshops run by members of the Australian Indonesian Arts Alliance (AIAA). These included lessons in martial arts, an introduction to the traditional musical instrument, the Gamelan, and Kecak, a unique singing style.

There was also a workshop that taught students a traditional Indonesian dance style, beautifully demonstrated by performer Jane Dewi.

After the engaging and physical lessons, the professional entertainers performed a high action show featuring ornately dressed and masked characters who told folk stories through dance.

Ben Butler-Kwa from Elands school enjoyed joining with Wingham Public, Bobin and Mount George students although he did note it was a lot noisier than being in a small school.

“I’ve learnt a lot about the Indonesian people today,” he said.

For Ty Arnold, also from Elands school, the traditional martial arts workshop was a favourite.

The cultural days were organised by language teacher Jim Rourke and made possible by a $40,000 federal government grant received by the Community of Wingham Schools.

The funding has gone towards building a continuous program of Indonesian language studies from primary through to high school.

Jim Rourke’s passion for Indonesian culture recently increased after a trip to experience the language as part of a university language scholarship. Jim travelled to Lombok for a three week intensive language course run by the University of Mataram in conjunction with the University of New England, where he is studying by correspondence.

The Australian Indonesian Arts Alliance (AIAA) is a national network of organisations and individuals involved with Australia-Indonesia cultural exchange.

AIAA’s vision is to promote Indonesian culture throughout Australia and to create new pathways for Indonesian artists to share their culture in Australia. They use interactive workshops and performance to create an open forum for cross-fertilisation of ideas between people of all disciplines involved with Indonesian culture.

Professional performers Made Denis and Agung Budi Antika were part of the group of four that visited the Wingham schools. Made said it is a beautiful thing to bring a different culture to the school children.

Agung Budi Antika, who has been performing at schools for more than 15 years, said it is great to be part of the organisation that has 10 performers travelling nationwide.

Students will continue learning the Indonesia language and culture with Mr Rourke visiting each school to run lessons throughout the year.