K-State alumna presents about her home country of Indonesia


On March 26, Inneke Sarwono gave a presentation over Zoom about her country’s traditions, culture and way of life for the third International Coffee Hour of the semester.

Sarwono, born in Jakarta, Indonesia, came to the United States in 2012. Sarwono received her MBA from K-State in 2014 and eventually her doctoral degree in hospitality management.

Jakarta, an island on the western side of Indonesia, has a large population, Sarwono said.

“My home country of Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,000 to 18,000 islands,” Sarwono said. “No one has actually counted how many islands there are; it would be too difficult.”

The official language spoken in Indonesia is Bahasa. Bahasa, sometimes known as the “Indonesian Language,” sounds very similar to Malay, Sarwono said.

“We have adopted many words from other languages such as Dutch, English, Arabic and Sanskrit,” Sarwono said.

Learning English in the United States proved a lot harder than learning Bahasa in Indonesia, Sarwono said. Unlike English, Bahasa has no past, present or future tenses.

Food plays an important part in Indonesian culture, and people come from many different countries to taste food with Indonesian spices, like candlenut, star anise and nutmeg.

“We can eat a majority of our food at any time of the day,” Sarwono said.

Some common foods in Indonesia include soto — a chicken soup — and lemper ayam — glutinous rice with chicken.

When it comes to medicine, some places in Indonesia stray away from western medicine and practice with some more herbal techniques.

“Some people use herbal drinks to cure a fever or a cough, with ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass or lime,” Sarwono said.

After showing images of some common foods found in her country, Sarwono presented clips of traditional Indonesian dancing. The dancers wore traditional, colorful clothing and the lively accompanying music came from bamboo instruments.

“Today, we don’t wear the traditional clothing very often — mostly for religious and spiritual events,” Sarwono said. “In elementary school, we had to memorize the traditional clothing from different parts of Indonesia”

Sarwono finished the presentation by talking about famous tourist spots that fill the many islands of Indonesia. Many visitors come to Indonesia to see Bali, a famous tourist location.

“Lots of these small islands don’t have airports, so you need to have a local to guide you when and where to go because you have to get on sea vessels,” Sarwono said.

Grant Chapman, associate provost for international programs, watched the Zoom presentation and spoke of his time in Indonesia.

“It takes a very long flight to get there, but it is definitely worth visiting Indonesia,” Chapman said. “I have visited Indonesia three times. All the different islands and regions are all very unique and filled with wonderful people and sites.