I clearly remember the moment when my professor introduced the Frans Seda Foundation to us. I knew it immediately, I would love to conduct research about Indonesia! Some classmates turned around at the time and pointed at me, “this sounds like a research for you Myrthe!”. Some time later I got the news that I was selected to go, I was extremely happy about it.
I went to Indonesia for a period of five months, of which I spent two months in Jakarta and three months in Ambon, Maluku. I find it important to learn about the culture, the language and the local people while being abroad and especially while conducting research abroad. This is why I decided to stay for the maximum period possible for my studies.
Indonesia and the Indonesian people I met were truly amazing. The people are so friendly, polite, caring and open. I often got invited to people’s homes where I got offered so much delicious Indonesian food that I could hardly finish it. When I went home I often got surprised with food again, this time to take home. This was so kind of them, I surely never went home hungry. Furthermore, I always got blown away by the beautiful mountains, jungle and beaches in Indonesia, a landscape that is so much different from the Netherlands.
I also faced some funny challenges. Locals would often burst out laughing while I was attempting to cross the streets in Jakarta for example, and offer to cross it together with me. In Maluku eating Papeda was quite a challenge. It would usually result in a situation where everyone in the room would stop what they were doing in order to see me eat it. All eyes on me, I was convinced my smile hided the struggle, but when everyone started to laugh I understood that it clearly did not.
My research is about the freedom of religion for the indigenous Nuaulu pupils at a Junior High School in Maluku. Living in a village of an indigenous group had always been one of my dreams and now came true. My translator and I were hosted by a lovely Nuaulu family, we all got along very well. It was a truly unique experience, besides my research I for instance helped preparing copra from coconuts and I got to witness traditional rituals! The people in the village were all very open and helpful towards my research.
All of this would not have been possible without the Frans Seda Foundation, thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Terima kasih banyak.