It was like love at first sight how we met and got acquainted. The story began from the Virtual International Winter Course last March 2021. It was a short course delivering and promoting the local genius of the Banyumas culture to the international students. Don’t blame us for bringing such a class and theme while we are the inhabitants of the supreme programme: English literature!
The most apparent reason we believed and kept was the format and the participants of the class. It was an international forum for international audiences. For such a forum, pizza, KFC, or pastry were not a good idea to be on the presentation since we were not the producers of the foods. Otherwise, it would disgrace us for being incapable of performing it. Absolutely, in the marketing theory, we should perceive our potential buyers well. Thus, we can serve them with the most different products that others do not own.
Here, we knew well what we would sell and who our buyers were. For them (the foreign learners), nothing will be more memorable than knowing and learning about what we commonly eat, wear, see, or do as our traditions. Did they know the history of batik arts? Why do we have to wear batik? Or did they understand what wayang is? Is it similar to the common puppeteering arts? These questions are samples for boosting our creativity. That we are Indonesian people with rich cultures is the selling point for foreigners.
Done! We came to a decision. Three packets of courses we would offer the students that were, once again, based on our pride as the parts of Banyumas culture and people (most of us were not initially born in this town, though, have been growing up here and living its native traditions). Those three were Banyumas batik arts, wayang arts, and traditional dance arts. Don’t ask how we prepare for the courses. The most important thing was it would be un tour de culture pour le monde (a tour of culture for the world). Let the world look at us, know us, understand us, be impressed with us, and visit us!
Yes, we did it! We have done it! Fakultas Sastra has monumentally bridged its academicians and Banyumas to the world. The International course has enlightened the overseas students with new insight into Indonesian culture, especially Banyumas culture. Learning how to dance lengger virtually has given them a particular experience. Knowing how to mbatik was artistic, and seeing how the dhalang (the puppeteer) played the puppets online was memorable, too. Could we say that the tour was expensive with knowledge and experiences? Absolutely!
Don’t forget that we also cheered the students up with folksongs (Cublak-cublak Suweng, Gundul-gundul Pacul, and Suwe ora Jamu), and awarded the best attendee. The last went to Karla Auria Galeon from Mariana Marcos State University. She was very charming and responsive to the course. No wonder that she thanked us for the appreciation, and we were happy to do it.
What exactly impressed us about Karla was her creative idea to invite us for having a virtual roundtable. Yup! It was a web roundtable where we could discuss things mutually, sincerely, and friendly. We did not need to provide the room, but they did. Then, there we were, at 9 am (Jakarta time), 15 April 2021, in the google meeting room. They cheerfully said hello to us and delightedly presented about future collaborations. The International Affairs Bureau was also with us in the meeting.
The “hello” from them was warm and challenging for future networking. As the faculty that develops the global vision and mission, Fakultas Sastra always stays in front to welcome any mutual partnerships, including Mariana Marcos State University, the Philippines, where Karla works. The points of cooperation are sit-in programme, guest lectures, and joint researches. Hence, we hope for a long-lasting and fruitful partnership. Thank you, Karla, for your beautiful smile and nice words. A hello from the Philippines has ended in the MoU now. (nhy)