Fasting and Cross-Cultural Understanding

May, 05 2022

UIII.AC.ID, DEPOK - It was a warm solemn afternoon. We gathered at the second floor balcony of our students’ apartment while waiting for a maghrib call to prayer. A view of an exquisite sunset was vivid from where we sit around circling a table full of meals and drinks.

“This is paratha. We will eat this with sliced-chicken curry,” my friend Numan from Pakistan said, as he had prepared the meal for us to breakfasting. 

Not only that the paratha was hand-made by Numan, this MA student in Education at UIII also demonstrated how to eat it. “You rip off the paratha, then pinch it to the chicken with your fingers, then eat it,” he explained. 

That evening was all about delicious paratha, a popular South Asian traditional dish that Numan has introduced us.  

Numan is among dozens of UIII international students who experienced the first Ramadan in Indonesia. 

Coming from different countries, we UIII students are thrilled that we can gather in this campus and spend our first Ramadan together. 

Not only Numan, some of my foreign mates also introduced their traditional dish. My friend from Yaman, for instance, treated us with Samosa, while my Gambian friend introduced us with his traditional green tea.  

While we as local students also exposed them with foods commonly served during iftar, from gorengan (fried snacks), Kolak (palm sugar with bananas), Sop Buah (fruits soup), until the main courses like Chicken Satay, Rendang (beef with coconut milk), etc. We also usually eat iftar at Rahmatan Lil 'Alamin, the university mosque, where many Indonesian foods are available there for free. 

Hence, exchanging foods might look like a simple activity, but to us, it is actually beyond that; this is part of us to know each other better to enhance our bonding and cross-cultural understanding. 

Leaving our families behind to study in this campus and spend Ramadan here might be hard, yet while we are away from our family, we are thankful that we are given a chance to create a new family-alike bonding with our mates from different countries. And, this I think is the beauty of spending Ramadan in this beloved campus.

By Supriyono, MA Student at the Faculty of Education, IIIU from Indonesia