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It was fall 2022, and half a year had passed since I entered APU.
I had grown used to campus life and when I was looking for something new and exciting to try, my professor introduced me to Indonesian Week.
What is Indonesian Week? It is part of APU's unique "Multicultural Weeks," which introduce the languages and cultures of multiple countries and regions in week-long events. Every year, in both the fall and spring semesters they are held and organized by the students. During the event, not only students from the country concerned but also students from other countries participate. Through these big events, students can foster a sense of pride in one's own country as well as respect for other countries.
In my first year in the spring semester, I took the Indonesian language course, and became interested in the Indonesian language and culture. So, along with my friend from Indonesian class, I decided to join my first ever Multicultural Week.
Among the various types of dances and theatrical performances, the one that attracted me the most was the Indonesian traditional Saman dance. Overwhelmed by the fluidity and coolness of the movements, I decided to participate.
Upon deciding to participate, the real practice began and lasted from summer vacation to the fall semester. At first, I devoted myself to watching the videos that the Indonesian members sent me to memorize the steps. I replayed and slowed down the videos and danced over and over again to let the dance sink into my body.
After practicing on my own, the next step was practicing with other members. During individual practice, there were times when I became discouraged by the loneliness, but after joining everyone, I felt powerful and united. It was fun. I think this is the charm of Saman dance.
However, the problem then became the slight errors and off-beat movements that stook out. When everyone is doing the same dance, even miner timing errors or slightly different angles make one stand out in a bad way. I struggled to correct these points.
I would record footage to play back and search for my errors. And when I couldn’t notice them on my own, my fellow members gave me feedback. I repeated this in earnest until I got better.
Us practicing together. We are fine-tuning while exchanging opinions in various languages
After 2 months of continuing practice, the big day finally came. The Indonesian Week starts with a parade in front of the fountain and continues for 5 days. We were to present our Saman dance on the last day’s Grand Show.
The Grand Show’s program included the beautiful "Merak Dance" inspired by peacocks, "Contempore Dance" characterized by strength, and so forth. Indonesia has many types of traditional dance, all of which are amazing. It was so exciting just to watch!
However, it was my time to take the stage. There was no time to relax and watch the show as we were making final checks and adjusting our costumes until the last moment. (I was able to watch the archived footage later.)
And it was finally time. Backstage, I was so nervous I could hear my heart beating. Then, one of the Indonesian members told me the magical word “Samangat (“ganbarou” in Indonesian)!” and somehow, I was able to calm down.
The moment I stood on the stage, I was surprised at how many people there were. I knew that the tickets were sold out, but I didn't expect so many people to gather! Of course, I was nervous, but the cheers of the audience and the confidence that I had practiced until now encouraged me, and I managed to dance to the end! I'll say it again, but the Saman dance’s charm is that it is in sync so when I was dancing, I was not alone! We were creating the dance together! That was the atmosphere that pushed me forward.
Click here for the YouTube video of the 2022 Indonesian Week Grand Show (Saman dance starts around 33-minute mark)
Participating in the Multicultural Week this time made me realize once again that APU is a really interesting university. I think this is the only university in Japan where if you are interested in a certain country, you can make friends from that country and experience the culture of the other person while still staying in Japan. I realized that with a little courage, I could make anything come true at this university.
At first, of course, I was apprehensive. I had no experience in international exchange, and I didn't have confidence in dancing. However, when I jumped in with a little courage, I was able to gain good experiences and new knowledge that I will be able to use for the rest of my life. From now on, I want to actively challenge myself at this university!!! If you have the chance, please try to experience a Multicultural Week!
In any case, Indonesia Week was fun! Otsukare"saman”!!
I am Yukina Kiyosue, a second year student in the College of International Management (APM) who loves comedy! I commute to APU from the Kunitachi Peninsula, which is rich in nature. I decided to start writing because I was motivated by this university, where there are many people who are willing to try new things and who can seriously devote themselves to something. I will do my best!