Alumni Feature: Dinda Nugroho
Dinda! What can we say about Dinda, alumni extraordinaire and current Corporate and Foundations Relations Intern. Have you seen her play with the Sitar Saints Band or been met in the halls by her bright smile? Dinda sounds out about what it’s like to be a member of Sitar’s creative community in her Alumni Feature below.
How old were you when you started at Sitar, and how did you hear about it?
I started taking classes at Sitar when I was nine. My mom was the one who heard about it. I believe she heard it from a friend who lived in Adams Morgan at the time and decided to check it out one day.
Do you have friends or family that also attend Sitar?
Yes! My younger brother, Dimas, and I, and our younger cousin, Sarah. They are currently at Sitar. In terms of friends, a few of my classmates from primary and middle school attend Sitar as well. But I’ve also met a lot of people at Sitar like my friends Joel and Forrest. We’re still together to this day. Joel still volunteers on Wednesdays, and Forrest and I work together now. It’s pretty amazing how Sitar has kept us together.
Which classes or programs did you enjoy? Which ones stand out to you, even today. Why?
I started off taking private violin lessons, but then I learned that Sitar offered even more than music. It had art classes too! I took my very first art class––landscape art, with Tim Gabel (Tim is chronicled in the documentary “Life As A Collage” done in partnership in with Meridian Hill Pictures.) In that class, I learned what a canvas was and did my very first landscape painting. Not very well, but it was a start.
Another memorable class was photography. I came into that class thinking we’re gonna take pictures, send them to CVS, and BOOM! they’ll come to life. But no! Not only did we take our own pictures, but we also developed them on our own! I think that was when it really sunk in that there was so much more to Sitar than just music––it’s truly a place to create and to express yourself.
Is there anyone at Sitar who has made a lasting impression on you?
Joe Link! (Music Programs Associate) He and Rob Smith (formerly Registrar and Director of Students and Outreach at Sitar) were the first people I met when I walked through Sitar’s doors. I think my mom wanted me to take piano lessons, but it was filled up, and so was the waitlist, so I chose the violin. Thankfully Joe and Rob hyped me up so I could feel excited to try the violin.
I grew up with Joe always encouraging me. He encouraged me to apply for the Berklee Five-Week (Summer) Music Performance Intensive in Boston. I got in! And through the support of the Peter Fox Award that I received from Sitar, I was able to attend. Thanks to Joe, I learned how to play jazz for a whole five weeks. After that, he encouraged me to join the Sitar Saints Band. He said since I have all this new knowledge from Berklee, I should share it, and I haven’t stopped coming to band practice ever since. Joe is always there for me. He plays a huge part in my life, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a part of Sitar’s community?
I’ve learned that I’m a creator and an artist. Growing up, I found it difficult to connect with my classmates outside Sitar. But when I enter the Center, I’m accepted for who I am because I’m surrounded by people who think and act similarly to me. We’re all artists here––we see the world differently, and we connect on a level all our own. We put our thoughts and feelings into the artistic outlets we use.
I’ve learned over time that, well, heck, it’s okay not to be like everybody else! I think that’s what Sitar has taught me––to accept myself as an artist and not be afraid to put myself out into the world.
What are you studying now, and where?
I am studying International Relations at Trinity Washington University, but I continue to play and teach music and make visual art.
Why did you choose to do an internship at Sitar?
I’m currently the Corporate and Foundations Relations Intern. This is now my third internship with Sitar in total. Loretta (Deputy Director of Programs) originally encouraged me to apply, not only to build my resumé but to experience life in a professional office setting. After each internship, I was offered another one. I am very grateful to the Sitar staff for allowing me to work in different positions in the Center.
How have you stayed connected to the people who’ve come through Sitar?
Instagram! Also, I always look forward to Sitar’s alumni events because I can reconnect with the people I grew up with and see what they’re up to now.