A piece of Indonesia in a small part of Michigan

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Alma Dhiafira
Member since November 24, 2015
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December 5, 2015. Manistee Museum

December 5, 2015. Manistee Museum

I’m a Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Surabaya, Indonesia that who is staying in Benzonia from August 2015 until July 2016. Yes, I will be staying here for a year. Passing a new year, also a Christmas.

I never celebrate Christmas, simply because that’s not suitable for my religion and Christmas isn’t really a hype in Indonesia because most of Indonesia's citizens are Muslims who do not celebrate Christmas. But here in America, they have huge parade to celebrate Christmas. One of the parades is called Victorian Sleigh Parade in Manistee, Michigan.

From Benzonia, it takes around 1 hour to go there. I went there with my counselor, Linda. For me, as a person who spent her lifetime in a hot country, Benzonia’s weather was cold. But people who live here said it’s not that cold, that this kind of weather rarely happens. There’s no snow yet in December!

The parade started at 5.30 pm, but we had arrived earlier. So we used our free time to walk around the downtown - tt is a pretty town with beautiful shops around. We entered some shops and luckily we got free hot chocolate and cookies. Trust me, hot chocolate is the best friend to enjoy in cold weather. On the street people were selling grilled cashew nut. It’s hard to eat that because we have to peel the skin first. But it was an interesting experience.

Randomly, we just walked in to Manistee Museum. At first I was shocked, we had to pay because I thought it was a shop not a museum! We got free cookies too. It was a German traditional cookie and it tasted spicy – a new flavour to taste.

I found out that there was a second floor and so I looked around there. We walked through a hall and there was a really nice carved cabinet and so I told my counselor, “Hmm, I think I know where it came from. It looks like from Indonesia.” The second time we passed the cabinet, I got a clearer view on what was inside the cabinet. THOSE WERE INDONESIAN THINGS!! There was a caping, a hat that traditional farmers used when they’re in rice field, and also many stuff in Batik motif. I was like WOW that’s cool. I mean, although it’s in a small place but I could still find Indonesian stuff in the museum!

I’m so excited to find proof that it’s Indonesian stuff. Then I asked the museum officer how it got there. I mean, it’s a county museum, it must have been placed on purpose. Then he told me a little history about lumbering in Manistee. The lumber industry in Manistee was very successful and made many people became rich. For that, they had capabilities to travel far away and brought cool stuff including Indonesia’s art. Wow, it proves that Indonesia is a place for people to go. I’m proud of it and also happy that Indonesia has been well known since a long time ago.

After we walked out of the museum, the parade started. There were many attractions in that parade. There’s no vehicles allowed, so most of the attractions used horses. Oh, I was so impressed by such beautiful horses. But the main attraction was when 3 horses pulled a giant Christmas tree on the street. When I say giant I mean it, I could get lost in that tree. I just can’t imagine how hard the horses had to work to make it move. But they made it move smoothly.

I ended the day by eating nice burgers and watched the light park. Yes, I feel a lot of Christmas vibe and somehow I want the snow to complete the vibe.

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