A Meeting Between Two Cultures: Indonesia Muslim and Meinong Hakka

Under the Hakka Community and New Southbound Policy Collaboration Program, in 2017, the Meinung People’s Association paid a visit to Indonesia with the aim of Hakka cultural exchange. With an invitation by Professor Tonny Dian Effendi of the University of Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM), the group also paid visits to several local Chinese settlements and Hakka groups all over East Java.

Tonny Dian Effendi is a Peranakan; a descendant of both Chinese and Javanese parents, he grew up on the island of Java. To him, his identity is a complex question, but not a conflict nor a contradiction. He described the complexity of his current predicament, saying “I am a Muslim, but most Indonesian Chinese are not Muslims. Be it among Muslims or among Indonesian Chinese, I am a minority.” Tonny however adopts a positive attitude towards his self-identity. Influenced by two cultures – Javanese and Chinese – he sees himself as 100% Indonesian on the basis of both cultural foundations. He considers his multiracialism as an advantage and hopes he could be the bridge between Chinese and non-Chinese Indonesians. This is also the reason why he is committed to helping new immigrants from Indonesia living in Taiwan, as he wishes to introduce Indonesian culture to the Taiwanese, so that they – especially those with mothers who hail from Indonesia – can know more about Indonesia.
'Indonesia Week' cultural exchange

In December 2017, Professor Tonny Dian Effendi led a group of 17 UMM students to visit Meinong in Kaohsiung, and embark on a 10-day "Indonesia Week" cultural exchange. The Indonesian students went to elementary schools in Meinong, and introduced traditional Indonesian folk dances, foods, Islam, and traditional batik to the Meinong students. The Meinong students reciprocated by introducing Hakka bayin music, operas, Hakka lion dance, and oil-paper umbrellas to their Indonesian visitors. On top of that, the Indonesian students also got to interact with the local groups, and gained a deeper understanding of local Meinong Hakka culture, local industries, and local society.
Indonesian college students wear the Hakka blue shirt

After nearly 2 weeks of cultural exchange and experience living in a Hakka village, the UMM students deeply appreciated the meaning of cultural exchange between different communities. They got to introduce their own Indonesian culture in Taiwan, and got to learn about Hakka traditions in return. This cultural exchange was a positive experience, be it for the Muslim UMM students or for the Hakka in Meinong. Not only did they get to experience Indonesian culture, the Meinong students had to make preparations to introduce their own Hakka culture, in turn strengthening their recognition of their own culture. Not only that, for the second generation of new immigrants from Indonesia living in Meinong, they developed a keen interest in their mothers’ homeland of Indonesia, and allowed them to understand more about their multicultural background.
Indonesian college students' 2 weeks of cultural exchange and experience living in a Hakka village