Joy Cariño is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Indonesian program in Malang, Indonesia. She’s a current senior at Mississippi State University, with a major in English and a minor in Linguistics and working on a TESOL certificate. After graduating in May 2020, Joy hopes to teach English and pursue research in language acquisition or sociolinguistics. She enjoys writing poetry, fiction, and essays and has played the piano for local choirs in her community.
Getting to Know Joy
I grew up in Starkville, a small college town home to Mississippi State University, where I also attend college. My parents are Filipino immigrants who came to teach and research at nearby universities. Growing up in Starkville introduced me to international diversity in the immigrant community, crazy college football traditions, a vibrant university arts scene, and Southern hospitality all in one small town.
An Interest in Indonesian
I wanted to study Indonesian because I am interested in studying sociolinguistics in contexts of Southeast Asia and wanted to learn more about the region of the world where my family is from. I also wanted to immerse myself in a new language and culture and see what it was like to live in a multilingual, multicultural society like Indonesia. In addition, as an aspiring English teacher, taking immersive language classes in Indonesian showed me new techniques in language teaching that I hope to use in my own classroom someday, such as taking time at the beginning of class to chat informally about what we did the previous day, to practice speaking our new language in meaningful and relevant contexts.
My favorite word in Indonesian is “waduh” (wah-DHOO). It expresses surprise, but it can mean anything from “amazing!” to “on no!” to “wow!” to “yikes!” depending on context or how you say it. Another favorite word is “pedas” (puh-DAS) meaning “spicy.”
If you’re interested in religion, theater, poetry, arts, politics, volcanoes, healthcare, international relations, or anything at all really, I would highly recommend studying in Indonesia, where there is always something interesting going on in politics, coffee shop entrepreneurship, archaeological discoveries, and more! Furthermore, if you’re into arts and history, Malang is a great city to explore, with museums, free indie band concerts, art galleries, poetry readings, and TONS of coffee shops.
One day my language partner invited me to hang out at her host home, where she lives with eleven other women. I was a little nervous at the thought of being really close, really quickly to eleven other women I’d never met before, but I was glad she invited me. That day, one of her roommates was preparing invitations for her upcoming wedding, so my language partner and I helped her. As we folded invitations, the three of us talked about weddings, life, and relationships. It was fun to talk about our different dating cultures (and dating experiences)! I loved this moment because it was such a homey, normal occurrence, something I would do on a lazy Sunday afternoon with my friends in Mississippi. Furthermore, my nervousness went away after meeting several other roommates who told me I should come over more often, especially since they always had snacks and fast WiFi! This experience showed me that taking a chance to meet new people can lead to special, shared moments!
Connecting Home and Host Cultures
For a class project during CLS, we had to create a dream business. Mine was called “Mencicippi” (Mencicipi Mississippi) which means “Taste Mississippi.” Mencicippi would be a company that gives Indonesians a taste of Mississippi food, history, arts, and culture through personalized tours. Through my presentation, I was able to share with my host community a few similarities between Mississippi and Malang: most foods are friend, tea is sweet, and the people are kind and, perhaps, overbearingly friendly! Then after class, our conversations with tutors and teachers eventually turned to more difficult topics, like how religion is intertwined in everyday life in both Indonesia and the American South.
Upon returning to Mississippi, I shared such similarities with my friends, especially when it came to Indonesians’ love for fried food. But I think the most important thing I shared with my home community was my experience being a religious minority. I grew up as a Christian in the Bible Belt, and I had never spent much time with a large number of non-Christians. I shared with my Christian friends in Mississippi that even though I followed a different religion than most of my Indonesian friends, I found that we valued religion as part of our identity and as a guiding force in our lives.
CLS gave me the opportunity to navigate a new culture and reflect on my own cultural biases. I learned that my identity as a Filipino-American, Christian, and Mississippian gives me only one way of seeing and living in the world. Living with a host family, exploring the city with language partners, and talking with my new Indonesian friends showed me that the world is so much bigger and more complicated outside of my own lens.
April 29, 2020