September 2012, Volume 16, Number 4


Immersed in Indonesia

For 10 action-packed days in May, MDC students immersed themselves in whole new worlds of culture during their travels through Indonesia as part of a new study abroad program developed by the College.

Studying architecture, history and society, they explored different building styles and religions, urban settings and ways of life, from bustling city centers to serene places of worship, all under the guidance of Dr. Lyle Culver, associate professor in MDC’s School of Architecture and Interior Design.

Hands-On Learning

Instead of reading about melding architectural styles in this faraway land, these fortunate MDC explorers actually reached out and touched the walls, tracing the intricate ornamentation of the ninth-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur, the elaborate stonework of the thousand-year-old Hindu temple of Prambanan, the vibrant patterns of the Muslim mosque of Cheng Hoo and the undulating, ecofriendly design of the Green School in Bali. 

While diving into the distant past, they also experienced the bustling present, dodging motorbikes on crowded, dusty streets; sampling exotic foods; and sharing stories with their inquisitive chaperones, who were students much like themselves studying at the Indonesian universities where the MDC seminars were held, including Universitas Airlangga in Surabaya, Universitas Udayana in Bali and the Indonesia Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta.

The new partnership between Miami Dade College and the Indonesian universities is the result of a year of research and liaison-building undertaken by MDC’s Office of International Education. As one of just six colleges awarded a U.S. Department of State grant last year, MDC served as a pilot institution for the launching of the U.S.-Indonesia Partnership Program for Study Abroad Capacity (USIPP).

Atypical Adventure

“What I liked most about this study abroad program is how ‛outside the box’ I felt,” said MDC student Alexander Shemin. “The trip expanded my understanding of other cultures.”

The program also offered much more than a look at fascinating architecture. The MDC students, whose areas of study ranged from English to architecture, traveled with a group from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, one of the six other U.S. institutions participating in USIPP. Together, these students learned about traditional dance and musical instruments along with indigenous art forms, such as batik.

Bringing their knowledge home to share with others, the students developed a body of creative work that was recently displayed by the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., during its independence celebration and will be shown at an MDC exhibition in the fall. In addition, a documentary of the program is being produced.

“Returning to the U.S. felt like waking up from a long, wonderful and unforgettable dream,” said MDC student Adriana Pérez-Leyva. “When I spoke to my family about Indonesia, I felt a bit like an outsider, as if I had acquired something unique that most of them might never be able to experience. Traveling to Indonesia has helped me realize there are incredible adventures awaiting us all. We must make the effort to seize every opportunity.”


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