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Bundhovi - Assistant Teacher Extraordinaire

Bpk M. Bundhovi was the first assistant teacher to visit Australia under the new Indonesian Assistant Teacher's Program created by Leonie Wittman, NSW Department of Education. Bundhovi was interviewed last November by Judith Shelley for Inspirasi on his last day at Evans River School during an Indonesian music performance by Deni Oseng, Musician-in-Residence with Ron Reeves, Reza Achman and Deva Permana of Sydney Band 'Anything But Roy'

Bundhovi: The Assistant Teacher Program is a pioneer project of the Dept of Education and Training, NSW.

Judy: Where have you been stationed during this project?

Bundhovi: I am based at Evans River schools and I also teach at Coraki, Broadwater and Woodburn Primary. I have also been to Ballina and Mullumbimby High Schools.

Judy: Who has been responsible for co-ordinating the project?

Bundhovi: Leonie Wittman and Linda Keyte. Leonie lets me know when I am needed to teach at Teacher's workshops and In-service days, for example, in Dubbo, Byron Bay and Sydney. I have been teaching workshops in teaching techniques for teaching Indonesian culture, including the use of cartoons and comics as learning aids, also for students of Indonesian language.

Judy: Do you teach about traditional and modern culture?


I actually take a wider view. I ask the question "What is Budaya? What is culture?" So that the children can start to think about themselves and about cultural concepts. The problem of culture is both conscious and subconscious, which we often don't realise.Budaya is not just about music, dance etc but also a way of life, including concepts such as family, concept of beauty, community etc.One important aspect of this project for me has been the impact on student's attitudes after 6 months. The first time I came there were a lot of bad impressions about Indonesia because of the East Timor situation. A lot of people had the impression that the Indonesian people were the same as the military or the government. I have been telling the students that the Indonesian people have their own attitudes, different to the government.The project has been very successful in building a bridge between Australia and Indonesia.

Judy: This is really great for you having an Indonesian performing group coming to perform for your last day.


It makes me even more appreciate our culture. Look at these kids. They don't care about politics; it's just lovely to see them so pure.

On the stage Ron Reeves was commencing the performance by introducing the musicians and explaining how Oseng came to be in Australia on tour with the band, Krakatau. He then came to Byron Shire to teach gamelan.Oseng then showed the children the different sounds that the kendang makes, including the way the musician uses his foot against the skin to change the sound and scale of the drum.Oseng then played the 'mincid' rhythm with his left hand and establishing the basic rhythm, and then the right hand creating a variety of rhythms.

Ron then talked about the uses of the kendang music to accompany dance performances, weddings, ceremonies, etc.Oseng demonstrated the jaipongan style. Ron then introduced Reza and the North Sumatran drums called Tagading. "These drums are usually played in a larger group. Reza is playing two drums today." Reza then showed the children the bonang.The four musicians then joined together to perform (rampak kendang). "Rampak" meaning together.The children then asked questions, such as, "Does it hurt your hands to play drums?"

Ron: It can hurt your hands, but we know how to play the drums correctly, so it won't hurt.

Children: How long does it take to learn?

Ron: Most of us have been playing for about ten years but we are still learning. We will keep learning all of our lives. There are still plenty of things to learn.

Children: Are the drums handmade?

Ron: Yes, the wood is made from Jackfruit tree and the skins are water buffalo.

Children: How does the drum in the front stay still?

Ron: They do move about a bit. We do tie them on, but usually they move around a fair bit.

Ron then asked for volunteers from the audience and taught a number of children how to play a kendang rhythm. Ron then divided the children into two groups and taught them how to make two separate vocal rhythms to go with the drumming. The children then joined in with the Indonesian song 'Teko teko tek'.The performance finished with a fast drumming piece accompanying Reza performing some improvised movement and dance.

Judy: How have you enjoyed the performance today?

Bundhovi: It has been great. An excellent learning experience. This is exactly the kind of exposure that we need more of. By doing so we can communicate across cultures. Politics has done a lot of damage already. What we are doing now is like a healing process. So far it has been wonderful everywhere I go. Everyone calls me Bapak Bun. The children have been telling me they are sad to see me leaving.

Judy: How do you feel about leaving?

Bundhovi: I have mixed feelings about leaving. I have been aclimatised to Australia. Before I left, Indonesian people cautioned me that I could experience racism here, because they have been alarmed about what they have been reading in the mass media in Indonesia. This experience has been an eye-opener for both sides.

Judy: What is your job in Indonesia?

Bundhovi: My role at IALF is to prepare the students studyin English to go overseas for their MA. I also teach teachers of Indonesian language from Australia, America, and overseas. I have also been involved with giving integration for teams of Australian doctors and health experts visiting hospitals and clinics in Indonesia. This has also included interpreting for them at work in West Timor, Lombok, Jakarta, and Surabaya. I have lived in many countries including Canada, France, Germany, and most of Asia. I have also been teaching Indonesian since I was at uni. I was a host in a dormitory for overseas students at Satya Wacana Uni in Salatiga, Central Java.Culturally it was a process of learning, but knowing about the culture is one thing, living in a different culture is a totally different thing.

Judy: What have you learnt about Australia?

Bundhovi: Everyone is the same! - I have studied a bit about overseas culture. Australian society is more open in terms of political expression. The mass media is totally free.
In Indonesia things have changed a lot now thanks to the students who went out into the streets waging demonstrations. I believe that Indonesia is now a country that is reshaping its identity. We are faced with huge tasks to maintain our unity to face corruption that is endemic and to build our nation now we are totally bankrupt. I also believe that people should be given their own rights. The problem that exists with unity is that the government was centralised and there was no management, so all of the national resources were sucked up by Jakarta. They were digging their own graves. Traditionally Indonesian culture has not been open to criticism because we would lose face. Now it is time for us to be open about what is going on. Things have been so controlled, so quiet, then all of a sudden, 'big change'. I would say that change has sometimes been rushed and people express themselves very vehemently.

Judy: What message would you like to give to Australian people?

Bundhovi: Know your neighbours.

Judy: I would say, "Love your neighbours."

Bundhovi: Understand them, even if they are different. We have to live with the differences.

Judy: Tell me about your work as a visual artist.

Bundhovi: I had an exhibition last month, in Evans Head, entitled "Images of Peace." that really focuses on peace. I used to paint very strong political subjects and very violent images, however I started to divert in my painting since the time that I worked in the Vietnamese refugee camp in Indonesia. I saw the suffering of the Vietnamese and Cambodia people in the camp. I asked myself "What is it if I paint political violence?" My painting is now an expression of the quest for peace. I see my painting as an invitation to people to quest for peace. In 1999 I had an exhibition to comemorate the events in Jakarta in May 1998, the May riots. The title of the exhibition was "Ray of light amongst the darkness." And was meant to caution people about what was happening in Indonesia. As a teacher this is my intention. For people to learn something from my paintings, not merely for decoration.

Judy: How do you express this quest for peace in your paintings?

Bundhovi: I use images of people praying, refugees fleeing, refugees in Nepal, and Vietnamese, and reconciliation in Australia.

Judy: So how do you feel about the Assistant Teachers' Program?

Bundhovi: It has been great, and to be continued by other teachers. Mrs Keyte has been a tremendous support and help and should get full credit. My wish is that the ban on public school visits to Indonesia should be lifted as soon as possible, hopefully 2001.

Judy: I had no idea there was a ban! That's outrageous!

Bundhovi: Some schools go, but they have to pretend they are not on a school excursion.

Judy: Thanks for your time Bundhovi. And best wishes for your return home. Selamat Pulang!Contact
Leonie Wittman: leonie.wittman@det.nsw.edu.au
Judith Shelley: indoartsalliance@hotmail.com

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