I celebrated Indonesia’s 70th Anniversary of Independence this weekend at the beautiful home of an Indonesian-American high above Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is home of the University of Colorado (CU Boulder, one of the top universities in the United States.) We ate chicken sate, beef rendang, baked chicken and other Indonesian delicacies. Before the meal, we said both Muslim and Christian prayers.I was born and raised in Colorado but for the past 30 years have traveled the world. Still, when the time came to retire, my heart ached to return to Colorado’s mountains, which are the most beautiful in the world. Colorado’s beauty is both spectacular and spiritual, rugged yet gentle, secluded and civilized. No wonder that Californians choose Colorado as their first refuge when that California becomes unlivable.
I also spend half my time in Indonesia, a place of natural beauty and spirituality.
Many of my Indonesian friends in Colorado came first to California, but later moved to Colorado for a better lifestyle. So, there are a surprising number of Indonesians living in Colorado, many hundreds and perhaps even thousands, I am not sure (I cannot find accurate figures on the numbers of Indonesians in the United States, but have heard about 150,000.)
So, what is the profile of Indonesians living in Colorado? Basically, it is the profile of America. Most Indonesians in Colorado are working class citizens, who work very hard, and work long hours, to achieve the American dream. On average, they are not rich but they own nice homes and have a lifestyle that is unimaginable for middle class citizens in Indonesia. They started out with very little but within five or ten years find happiness in the U.S.
Many Colorado Indonesians I have met are Christians. Some came to the U.S. for religious freedom because they did feel secure to practice their faith in Indonesia. The Batak and Manado Christian community is very large in Colorado. There are at least two large HKPB (Batak Protestant Churches) in the Denver area.
I also have met almost many Indonesian Muslims here. In fact, there is an Indonesian organization that helps teach Islamic faith to Indonesian Muslims in Colorado. Hundreds of Indonesians and spouses of Indonesians, including some Christians, attended the Idul Fitri celebrations in Denver this year.
Most Indonesians in Colorado are working class citizens (or green card holders), pursuing the American dream. There are also some scholars and a few millionaires. Some came to Colorado for romantic love. One Indonesian man I know who waits tables at a restaurant is married to an American medical doctor. Another man I know, an artist, married a professor, and now delivers pizza for a living. Of course, there are also many beautiful and enchanting Indonesian women who met their American Prince Charming and now live charmed lives in Colorado, in these beautiful mountains. They love to hike and are not afraid of bears and mountain lions.
I know from my research for my first book, “Like the Moon and the Sun,” that most Indonesians are skeptical of American moral values. However, Indonesians who have come to Colorado find American moral values very healthy. They are proud Americans and equally proud of their Indonesian heritage.