Snapshot: Gabriel Umland (Indonesia, 2019/20)

May 25, 2020
Gabe Umland profile

I was certain that there must be many students with artistic talents at my school and wanted to find a way to celebrate and showcase their talents [...]  so I set out to create a student art magazine


My first week as a Fulbright ETA in East Java, Indonesia was a blur of hot weather, spicy food, photos, and Bahasa Indonesia. Amidst the whirlwind, what struck me most were the classrooms I would be teaching in. Each classroom was uniquely themed and had beautifully painted walls which reflected the personalities of the students within; one was painted with a deep sea theme, another with a space theme, etc.. In the weeks following I soon learned that many public schools in Indonesia give students total ownership of their classrooms, right down to painting the walls.

Impelled by the skill used to paint the walls, I was certain that there must be many students with artistic talents at my school and wanted to find a way to celebrate and showcase their talents beyond just the classroom walls. While fine arts were not given much consideration at my school, these students were certainly deserving of recognition so I set out to create a student art magazine. I spent the first 5 months of my grant meeting weekly with a small group of students to teach them Adobe InDesign, the program we would be using to design and layout the art journal.

Two pages from jOURnal, featuring work by Nurul Hidayati and Ismi Hidliyatur R.

At the beginning of the new semester we started receiving submissions from students throughout the school. We received submissions of poetry (in English), paintings, drawings, photography, and graphic design. Of those received, 29 submissions were chosen by the students to be included in the magazine.

I don’t wish to be everything to everyone, but I would like to be something to someone
Saya tidak ingin menjadi segalanya bagi semua orang, tetapi saya ingin menjadi sesuatu bagi seseorang
- Prayogo Wibisono 

We were about 80% of the way through the design and layout phase of the magazine when all Fulbright programs were called back to the US due to COVID19. I was heartbroken when I told my students that the art magazine would remain unfinished because I had to return to the US much earlier than expected. However, not deterred by school closures, the students in my group came to my house and worked for several days to finish the magazine during my final week in Indonesia. After countless hours of work, all that remained unfinished was the cover, and one student took it upon herself to paint a brand new piece of art for it, spending an entire day doing so.

Cover of the jOURnal

Because of the unwavering commitment of these individuals, the magazine was finished and printed in its entirety just days before I left Indonesia. The finished magazine features 29 art pieces with captions in both English and Bahasa Indonesia, translated by the students in my group. While few physical copies of the magazine exist, the digital version is available online for all to enjoy.

View the jOURnal


Gabriel Umland is a Business Administration and Mathematics graduate from Roanoke College where he also worked in IT, marketing, and event planning, and spent summers teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey. As a 2019-2020 Fulbright ETA in Cerme, East Java, Indonesia, aside from teaching English, Gabriel spent his time creating an art magazine, titled jOURnal, to help students practice English in practical ways and learn graphic design skills while showcasing the artistic talents of the students at his school. Back in the U.S. Gabriel intends to pursue a career in global marketing. Gabriel is also freelance a photographer; you can follow his work on his Instagram: @gabeummy.

Follow @gabeummy on Instagram


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