Yesterday, December 16, 2017, I had a gathering with the Indonesian community here in Tucson.
Oh, wait, I haven’t told you about Permias, no? Permias stands for Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat, meaning Indonesian Student Association at the USA. Permias exists in each state of the US as long as there are Indonesian students studying there. Here in Tucson, however, Permias includes not only Indonesian students but also Indonesian family/community who live in Tucson, AZ, either because they are married to an American or simply because they are working here. That’s especially because the Indonesian students are only a few. Nonetheless, it’s great to have such a community because it helps to make me feel “home”.
We don’t gather often because everyone of us is busy studying or working, but we make sure to gather once in a while and sometimes for special occasions to see each other, talk, laugh, share stories, etc. Yesterday was one of those days.
So, yesterday we gathered at Continental Ranch Neighborhood Park for a farewell party. Three people will leave Tucson, AZ. Two just graduated and will return to Indonesia, one from UofA (University of Arizona) and another from the pilot school in Nogales, AZ. The other got a job in Texas. So today we gathered together. And as usual, whenever there’s a gathering, there is free Indonesian food. It’s like a potluck party. Everyone is so generous and brings different kinds of Indonesian food. We, Indonesian students, are surely happy with this because there’s no Indonesian restaurant here in Tucson and it’s kinda hard to find Indonesian food unless we cook ourselves. So, again, gatherings with Permias help us to “taste” home 😊
Nevertheless, food is not the only reason why I am happy with such gatherings. What counts more is the bond, the closeness, the familyhood. We’re pretty diverse here, in terms of religions, ethnicities, etc. but when we gather, it seems that we do care for each other like a family. I love the genuineness or the sincerity shown when talking, joking, laughing. Seeing other people happy like that truly makes me happy. The kids get along quite well, too. While the grown-ups are chatting, singing, taking pictures, etc., the kids are playing on the playground enjoying themselves. It’s as if they know that we are minority here and we are one big family. We simply “love” each other 😊
Thus, sometimes I just don’t get it when the majority (including those in my own country) are worried about the minority having such gatherings. It’s not as if we want or intend to trample the whole nation with our existence, no. It’s just that we need to gather with our folks to feel a sense of belonging, that we’re not alone, that despite the differences, we share some similarities too: Indonesians living far away from home.
Anyway, we had the gathering until around 4 p.m. There was some food left, and of course I took some home. Now I don’t have to worry about food 😀
So that’s the story from yesterday. Last night I was too tired to write and post, that’s why. But I guess you’ve been able to notice why I am writing this: to show you that studying abroad is not that bad. And you won’t have to feel lonely as well. If you are Indonesians, especially, you know we have Permias, and there, we can find our extended family😊