This story first appeared in the October 2017 edition of The Hilltop.
“Indonesia Night: A Night in Papua” was initiated when Ardy Hermawan, the General Consulate of Indonesia in San Francisco, decided he wanted to put together an event with the Indonesian students from Papua to give back to the Corban community.
Jacline Sajori was tasked with being the Student Coordinator of the event. She was responsible for gathering all the Indonesian students together and allocating leadership roles, as well as motivating and pushing her peers to do their best to showcase their culture.
“The Consulate General fell in love with all of us students from Corban,” Sajori said. “He wanted to do something with us and put on a big event for our community to enjoy.”
This was also an opportunity for her to learn about her own leadership skills.
“I’m learning to become a leader, especially because it’s hard to communicate,” she said. “I’m learning about grace from them because, even when I make mistakes, they’re all so understanding.”
Sajori was most excited about sharing the gospel with the Indonesian guests who attended Indonesia Night.
“Indonesia has six different religions, so most of the Indonesian visitors who will come are not Christians,” she said. “The drama we will perform is about a Christian missionary who came to Papua. We want to share Jesus in a subtle way where we’re not attacking people, but they can sit back and have a good time with us.
Students Nikki Triestan and Yohanes Susanto kicked off the event by welcoming distinguished guests, family and friends in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. Provost Mike Patterson opened with prayer.
“God, we are amazed at the beauty of your creation and of the common passion you have given us for culture, for peace, and for people,” Patterson said.
In General Consulate Hermawan’s opening speech, he said, “My sincere appreciation goes to the academic staff of Corban University not only for having this event, A Night in Papua, but for what Corban has done for us and for all the Indonesian students from Papua.”
As the opening remarks came to a close, the stage came to life with vibrant dancing, intricate harmonies, and infectious joy of the performers. The audience was treated to a celebratory Papuan dance called yospan.
As the lines of dancers spread out along the stage and converged at the beat of the drum, the audience clapped along and cheered for each dancer.
After the first dances, students performed the drama called The Peace Child. Through the retelling of the first missionary’s journey to Papua, the audience learned more about the Papuan culture as the actors ran across the stage, yelling and shooting stage arrows at their rival tribes. They ended the drama by singing a Christian Papuan song, arms linked and faces beaming at the crowd.
For Indonesian and American students alike, Pace Nogei, a popular Papuan trio of singers, was definitely the highlight of the night.
“They had some fun and rad songs that all we Americans knew well, but when they began to sing songs about Papua, the American voices took a backseat and the pride of Papuan voices filled the Psalm Center,” Jeremy Abbey said. “I got to see my brothers and sisters in Christ lift their voices together and feel one step closer to home.”
Toward the end of the night, Pace Nogei sang, while all the members in the audience stood and joined the rest of the Papuan students in the Yospan dance.
“The most exciting part was when the audience danced with us,” Sandce Ferre said. I didn’t expect to see everyone dancing,” said Sandce Ferre. Fellow Papuan students Rosa Nasadit and Mercitita Duwiri also saw that moment as the highlight of the night.
Indonesian Night wasn’t just about getting together to dance and sing. Josiah Kroontje learned a lot about his own roommate, Semi Gombo, one of the main characters in the drama.
“My roommate and I had a good chat after that night,” Kroontje said. “The taste of Indonesia and hearing words in his own language had him feeling happy but homesick. Now, I better understand his strength by being here in America while his homeland and his heart and his hope rest in Indonesia.”
Ferre and Nasadit agreed that the intention of Indonesian Night was to educate their non-Indonesian peers.
“We just wanted to show you guys our culture,” Ferre said. “We learn a lot about American culture and we should be exchanging [cultures]. You should learn things from us and we want to learn things from you.”
“Because we all live together, it’s important for us to know each other’s cultures,” Nasadit said, “so we don’t stay separated from each other and we understand each other better.”
A Night in Papua stirred more awareness in the student body about just a few of the diverse cultures that thrive on campus.