By: Bayu Kristianto
I remember writing my last essay for my independent study with Professor Ines Talamantez from UC Santa Barbara in the midst of June. I was so relieved because eventually I completed all the assignments for the Spring Quarter, and submitting that last essay for me actually marked the very end of the quarter. I was determined that I would spend the summer time reading all the books that I had bought but which I had not had the opportunity to read. In addition, I made up my mind to finish reading all the books used for the classes for the three quarters I had completed, which I had not had the convenience of reading thoroughly. I spent the last two weeks in June making daily visits to the Shields Library to read a number of books. Unfortunately, I almost finished reading one book, and managed to read only the first few pages of other books I had intended to read. As June came to an end, I grew anxious because I needed a job with which I could earn money to support my life during the summer. I was lucky because Professor Ines Hernandez-Avila needed another research assistant and I started working for Professor Hernandez-Avila in the first week of July.
The first thing I did for her was sorting different pieces of writing, both those she had written and those she had collected, including all her poems and short stories that she wanted to publish. I enjoyed this work since as I was reading her poems and short stories I became more familiar with Professor Hernandez-Avila’s literary and scholarly work. I believe what I did was important because I helped her organize all of her writing and documents, which were an accumulation of years of work and research. I did this work in Professor Montejo’s office, so I got to experience the daily life and atmosphere of our department as well.
The next thing I did was helping Professor Hernandez-Avila in her research on the Conchero dance in Mexico for future publication as a book. Again, I had to sift through all the material she had collected with regard to the dance, which came in at least four boxes. I spent every day skimming a lot of articles and tried to find the parts which were considered relevant to the research. One day, she gave me a list of items which I had to find in the library or request through the Inter-Library Loan. I managed to obtain almost all the material she needed, except for some which the library could not find anywhere. It was an exciting process since I obtained a number of materials which I would love to read thoroughly myself, and which were relevant to my own research as well. After I got almost all of the items on the list, I skimmed them and made a short notation for each item, in which I expressed what I thought about the book and in what way the book was relevant to her research. Similar to what I had done previously, I marked places in the books and essays which I thought she could incorporate in her research.
Aside from this work, I had also decided to sharpen my skills in photography. I bought, borrowed, read, and watched a number of books, magazines, and films on digital photography, and I tried to find opportunities in which I could use my digital camera to make sharp, interesting, and artistic pictures. For this purpose, I made a short travel to San Francisco, staying in a cheap hostel for three days, where I met travelers from different parts of the world, most of them in their twenties. During my stay in San Francisco, I focused on honing my skill in urban photography. For this purpose, I visited a number of places of interest in San Francisco’s cityscape and played the role of a photographer, instead of a tourist. I managed to capture great pictures of the city’s architecture. (Please visit my Facebook to see the pictures. My Facebook name: Bayu Baladewa.) However, this process will not end as this summer break ends. Photography is a skill that needs years to master, despite the fact that I have owned my DSLR for two years (and, sadly, am still far from being an expert photographer) and the process is a life-long one, especially since the technology of digital photography keeps progressing from day to day.
My summer break may not be spectacular. I may not have had the chance to make international travel to some of the great places on earth. Nevertheless, I feel satisfied for having done something which would support both my academic development and my skill in the hobby which I like most. Helping Professor Hernandez-Avila with her research is certainly a rewarding experience as I learned more about indigenous issues in North America and Mexico. I am looking forward to being a research assistant in the following summer, if the same opportunity opens up. Furthermore, I dream that I can visit some great places both in America and abroad in which my photographic skills can be put to a test. There is always time to do that in another summer, and in more and more summers to come.