When Aria Tarudji came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a graduate student in 2016, he didn’t know anyone else from his home country of Indonesia.
Along with other UNL students, last fall he founded the Nebraska chapter of PERMIAS, an organization of Indonesian Students, which will hold its first meeting as a recognized student organization Saturday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m.
PERMIAS is an international organization that stands for Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia Seluruh Amerika Serikat, which translates to “Organization of the Indonesians Students in the United States.” It was founded in 1961, and has over 50 chapters across the country.
The organization had previously been established as an RSO on campus, but ended due to fewer Indonesian students attending the university. Since 2013, students have been trying to reestablish PERMIAS, but have been unable to due to lack of interest, according to graduate student Sri Noor Cholidah, the organization’s secretary and co-founder.
Tarudji, president of the group, looked for a chapter of PERMIAS when he came to UNL, and even had his friends help him look for other Indonesian students interested in the program. During spring 2017, he attended Culture Shock, a UNL event to highlight different cultures around the world, and was able to find other Indonesian students interested in forming PERMIAS.
Tarudji wanted to start PERMIAS in order to unite the Indonesian population across campus. During the 2016-17 school year, that population consisted of 18 students; nine undergraduates and nine graduate students.
“[I thought] if we had our own organization, then we might be able to join more than Culture Shock alone,” he said. “…That’s what that drove me to make PERMIAS Nebraska.”
Tarudji said one of the goals of PERMIAS is to represent Indonesian culture at the university. As a first-generation Indonesian student, Cholidah said she also felt this was an important factor in creating the chapter.
“I want to do something for my country,” she said. “[I thought] in this organization, maybe I can help to promote our country in the U.S.”
The goal for the meeting this weekend, Tarudji said, is to discuss events for the upcoming semester. He said the group plans on joining various international cultural celebrations on campus this spring, including a celebration held on East Campus and a collaboration with the Nebraska University Malaysian Student Association.
Tarudji said the group is open not only to first-generation Indonesian students at UNL, but to anyone in the Nebraska community who is interested in learning about Indonesian culture. He also sees involvement in the group, especially the managing positions, to be an excellent learning opportunity.
“I hope that the people who continue after me both learn about the leadership while they are also spending their time in PERMIAS,” he said.
Compared to other international groups, such as the Malaysian Student Association, Cholidah said PERMIAS can’t beat them in numbers. But for Indonesian students, the group has been an enormous help in numerous categories, including networking and making friends.
“We can help each other, example, to find a place to live in, or just help each other to study and how to adjust to this culture in the U.S.,” Cholidah said. “That’s why I think our organization is very important to our community.”