June 11, 2014

Slices of Life: Missing the music

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I Ketut Gede Asnawa gently bangs a gong, which helps make up a gamelan, at the School of Music Building in Urbana.

Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

I Ketut Gede Asnawa gently bangs a gong, which helps make up a gamelan, at the School of Music Building in Urbana.

By Sonia Kurniawan — If only.

If only he were back in Bali. He would not have so many sleepless nights. His heart would not ache with sadness because of his inability to infuse the feeling of his beloved gamelan music into the hearts of his American students.

“How am I to make my students one with the music?” he has asked himself constantly.

If only.

That has been the lingering question since I Ketut Gede Asnawa, now a music instructor at the University of Illinois, moved to the United States nearly 13 years ago. Blinded by work stress and the feeling of not belonging, he could not always see that his move saved a very precious life.

“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t moved,” he says. “Thinking about it now, it scares me.”

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This story was written by a University of Illinois journalism student in Professor Walt Harrington’s Literary Feature Writing class taught in collaboration with The News-Gazette. Funding for the class, which was taught at the newspaper’s headquarters in downtown Champaign, came from the Marajen Stevick Foundation. The story was part of an occasional series titled “Slices of Life” that ran in the newspaper’s Sunday Living section. All the stories in the series are also collected in the book “Slices of Life.”