Javanese IT engineer Henu brings a unique cultural perspective
2017-10-15 09:35:19 -

The Integration Question with Princess Pamela Toyin


A unique Indonesian tradition of bearing many different surnames in one family might be expected to be a burden when dealing with other cultures, but that’s never been the case for Henu Dwitjahyo Adhi and his family. 


Henu’s five children each bear different surnames, while Henu’s wife Ine Wiryn also bears a different name from her husband and children.


“We do not use surnames, especially these days,” says Henu. “If there is a naming structure [for Javanese], it is mostly influenced by Muslim’s naming structure.” Henu explains that this consists of the first name and parent’s names, referred to as Bin or Binti.


It is not uncommon that Javanese have only one name with no surname. In cases where a family name is required, some merely add their father’s name, use the last word in their name or simply any name they fancy. In view of this, there’s a likelihood of confusion when different surnames are used by one family.


It means having to carry multiple identity documents and often waiting twice as long at the airport. But Henu says the experience has been different ever since they stepped foot on Irish soil. 


“We did not face a lot of issues with our arrival in Ireland,” he recalls. “It is understandable that the immigration paperwork took some time to process, but in the long run it was a smooth process. And so far we do not have any problems.”


Henu moved to Ireland in 2012 to work as an IT engineer and has since been enjoying life here with his family. He feels it is “the best place to live for me and my family because the people in Ireland are nice and kind and do not discriminate against foreigners from different race and religion.” 


Being born a Muslim but raised in Catholic schools within a Hindu environment back home changed Henu’s perspective and helped him in picking up different cultural and social cues while travelling the world. Working in a multinational company back home also helped improve his conversational English, such that settling in Europe would pose little difficulty for this 50-year-old engineer.  


While his job in Ireland still takes him abroad regularly, Henu believes he is integrating well into the system here, and that includes making native Irish friends. 


“Ireland is the nice, peaceful and beautiful place to live for long. I always get friendly responses and greetings from the native Irish wherever I go in Ireland, even when most of them are strangers to me.” 


Not that Henu is under any illusions as to Ireland’s problems. The cost of living is high compared other European countries, though he believes the Government is working on it. “My concern is the lack of response to public hospital services. The Government should endeavour to respond to raise the standards.”


Apart from this, Henu praises the standard of education in his children’s schools, as well as the respect, caring and sharing shown by their teachers.  


Getting back to the lack of discrimination his family has faced, Henu elaborated: “I have not felt or experienced any form of racism, discrimination or threat whenever I and my family are walking in any part of Ireland. In my opinion, Ireland is the safest country compared to other European countries in terms of discrimination and racism. I feel safe wherever I go in Ireland.”


Henu is also happy that everyone has freedom to practice their religion. “It is always amazing to see many schools celebrating cultural days and it is always a memorable day. But the most memorable day for me in Ireland was watching the birth of my youngest children, identical twin girls.”


- Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid-1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is propelled to report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0) 87 417 9640 or email



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