GIS: Choropleth map

This week, I learned about the making of Choropleth map using ArcGIS in my GIS class taught by Heather-Richards Risetto. Choropleth map shows differences in regions, or in a geographical area in a form of color shading. The color shading is made to convey patterns behind complex statistical data. I love this map honestly because it’s a bit artistic with the color playing and shapes. The visualization reminds me of puzzles!

I have created this map before in my data visualization class with Matt Waite using R studio with packages like ‘devtools’, ‘sf’, ‘ggplot’, ‘colorbrewer’, and ‘dplyr’ and a small portion of coding.

Doc. Utami Diah Kusumawati
Doc. Utami Diah Kusumawati

However, in this GIS class, I don’t need to use coding commands as I only use ArcGIS to make maps by joining and inserting data to ArcGIS.

So, what steps should be considered when creating Choropleth map (joining tabular data with the spatial data)? First, you need to make sure you have two forms of files: CSV and SHP.

CSV file is like a spreadsheet of all of your statistical data, or data which contains information or numbers that you want to insert as points in your map. If you have data from the government or any kind of organizations, please, please, please, ask them to send it in a form of a spreadsheet. It will be easier for you to clean the data and use it for the sake of this mapping creation.

Second, make sure you also have the shp file. Okay, what is a shp file? A shp or a shapefile is basically a vector data which has information about the attributes of a geographical area. It has the longitude and latitude information as it will be the geographical template or the first layer for your statistical data. Still confused? Okay, I am gonna show you the physical forms below.

This is my CSV (tabular) data for my forest fire map. Doc:Utami Diah Kusumawati

Third, you need to have similar features or attributes to merge those two files. What kind of similar features or attributes? We merge tabular data and vector data with a field called as GISJOIN or if you have latitude and longitude info in both of your data that shows the same location, it would be great. ArcGIS will automatically combine these two data (tabular and vector) into one.

And what are the steps to combine the data? It will be a little bit longer to explain here because you need to do several steps like intersect, join, add new field, field calculator, calculate geometry, and so on (Don’t get scared! lol).

But, I am gonna update you next week after completing my interviews and transcribing all of my interviews in Palu (since I will have a routine of doing one-on-one consultation with Matt every Monday). So, I will share with you first the end result of my lab assignment to merge data from US Census Tract with the vector data (shp file). Here’s the final result:


Friends around the world I Fulbright Enrichment Seminar


Data Visualization: Dot Plot of the Top Ramen!

utami world ramen dot plot

A dot plot of 2017 world’s top instant noodles version Ramenrater.com. Chart by Utami Diah Kusumawati. For coding commands, visit /datavizUNL1(github)


Fleeing war in Sudan

By Utami Kusumawati

It was the lowest moment in her life. Khamisa Abdulla was tired of everything. She felt constantly nauseous and wanted only to sleep.

She and her seven children had been struggling to live in Cairo, where they had been waiting for almost two years to hear about their application for refugee status. The family had fled war-torn Sudan in 1998 and now were in limbo in Egypt.

“I didn’t know whether my husband was still alive or not,” Abdulla said. “It was so hard living there because people started to take advantage once they knew you were refugees.”

After recently thwarting an attempt by some Egyptian men to kidnap her sons into a sex-trafficking ring, she was feeling the weight of being a single parent to her daughter and six sons. She was so lonely and desperately wanted to talk with other adults.

She also was homesick for her village in the Nuba Mountains and missed her mother, Toma Kambal. Abdulla would daydream about her modest house, a store that she turned into a residence after the Sudanese government bombed the family’s previous house. They had everything — clean water, television, good furniture, nice clothes and health insurance. She worked as a math and science tutor for wealthy students.

But the family was not safe there. A civil war between the government and rebel groups had been raging since 1955 — and the Nuba Mountains region was among the most perilous of places. The government targeted civilians by bombing the area and prohibiting humanitarian aid.

The family was increasingly isolated because her husband, Mohamed Kambal, had joined the rebels. Abdulla and her children left without him because Abdulla worried for her sons’ safety — the government recruited boys older than 15 into the Popular Defence Forces, a reserved military army for the Sudanese government.

“I saw many male students lose their limbs because of joining the army and going to the war,” she said. “I have six boys and one daughter. I felt at that time, as soon as possible my boys would be taken into force to join the military.”

During their time in Cairo, Abdulla had occasionally felt blue and homesick. But on this particular day, the sorrow was intense, she said. She was paralyzed. But as she laid in bed, she heard the voice of her worried daughter, Nazik Kambal.

“Mom wake up, please,” her daughter said. “I think you are not sick, but you are depressed. Just get up. I will make you soup.”

As Abdulla considered her daughter’s concerned words, the faces of her children appeared one by one. If she lost hope, she thought to herself, her children would, too. As a mother, she did not want that to happen.

“I have lost my country; I don’t want to lose my children, too,” she said. “What will be left for a mother, then? My bigger picture is that I need to save myself from getting lost again.”

In that moment, Abdulla made a promise to herself to always be strong for her children.

From that day forward, things changed. She helped the children find work in safe places, like grocery stores. And on days when they did not work, she taught them math. She sewed clothes and shoes and sold them in the markets.

“We maintained to communicate and support one another. This helped us to survive.”

Since they were resettled in Lincoln in 2000, the family not only survived but flourished.

Four of her seven children are college graduates. Two are currently studying at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and one will be joining the U.S. Army.

Abdulla herself pursued and obtained a college degree.

But the family’s success hasn’t come without pain. When Abdulla’s husband, Kambal, joined the family in Nebraska in 2004, he was extremely depressed.

“He was suffering because he had gone through the traumatic experience,” she said. He was nearly killed in a bombing at a school where he taught. A government plane bombed the building, killing all of the children. Kambal was spared because he had left the classroom to use the bathroom.

“It was really hard for him to forget that accident. He was deeply affected. Even until now, he still prefers to sleep under the bed because he felt it was safe,” she said. “There are many Sudanese people in Lincoln who have the same problem as my husband.”

Khamisa Abdulla said that mental health problems still haunt Sudanese refugees in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Abdulla said that the ongoing trauma affected the entire family. Kambal was distant and isolated from the family members, so relationships became tense.

“We had to force him to come join and talk with us.”

And she witnessed other Sudanese refugees in Nebraska struggling with emotional trauma.

Realizing that the Sudanese community needs more psychological services to help the refugees cope with trauma, she decided to seek a degree in psychology at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha.

Abdulla, 59, now works as the Women’s Program manager at the Asian Community and Cultural Center, where she helps refugees deal with their problems, including mental health issues.

“The reason I choose to do this is because I am aware that we often misunderstand American or Sudanese cultures,” she said. “Therefore, I feel that maybe this major can help myself and other Sudanese refugees, too.”

posted in https://nebraskamosaic.atavist.com/healing-ways as a part of the final project for the Mosaic class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Escaping the slavery of ISIS

By Utami Kusumawati

While being held captive by the Islamic State, Shireen Jardo Ibrahim wanted to end her life.

The young Yazidi woman who now lives in Lincoln said she could no longer bear the torture, frustration and humiliation of being an ISIS slave for nine months.

“I just hated myself and wanted to commit suicide,” she said through an interpreter.

Even after escaping ISIS and finding relative safety in a refugee camp, Ibrahim still thought about suicide.

Baca lebih lanjut


Sacred Dagger

Sacred dagger


Jalak Buddha

Utami Diah Kusumawati, Contributor, Jakarta | Culture | Tue, May 06 2014, 12:41 PM

Kris have been forged from iron by master craftsmen, known locally as empu, for hundreds of years.

Creation of the daggers, sacred to people in Indonesia, Malaysia and even parts of the Philippines, involved complex rituals to boost their connection with the spirit world and to put magic power into the hands of those who carried them.

Today, however, many view a kris as a work of art, divorced from the local wisdom and philosophy of the empu. The Panji Nusantara kris community would like to change that, according to Toni Junus, the author of Kris: An Interpretation.

Toni said that the local wisdom embodied in kris remained under threat. Religious fanaticism, for example, has led some separate the sacred daggers from the spiritual values infusing those who made or owned them.

The community, founded in 2005 after UNESCO recognized the daggers, wants to reposition the kris in line with contemporary thought and religion. Baca lebih lanjut

New ruling on alcoholic beverages will not solve supply shortage

The government’s plan to allow local alcoholic beverage makers to expand their capacities will not solve the shortage supply problem and cope with country’s reliance on imports, says the Indonesian Employers Association. Baca lebih lanjut


New York City I Kismet

Chicago O’ Hare International Airport, Sunday 27th January, 2019

Touch down at Chicago (ORD) at 3 p.m., 45 minutes earlier than the scheduled arrival.

Something really interesting popped up in my mind. When I tracked my flight location ( UA 882) from the airplane’s screen, my eyes directed to New York state. Out of nowhere, I remembered everything. My submissions to two things located in New York City. However, I am still waiting for the decision for both of them (Only God knows what will be, though).

It was kind of funny, not because of the waiting but because well, I applied to those located in New York City (NYC) not because its location but because its programs.

New York City has been my favorite place to stay in the states. Before I applied to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), I planned to study at the New York University (NYU) but ending up here at the UNL which was the best thing happened to me. Why is that? First, the tuition fee for studying and living in NYC is so expensive that I need to pay by myself (up to $50,000!) even after I got accepted by the NYU. And I don’t have any money to pay that much. Well, I had a Mazda car but then I sold it (crying emoticon) and it’s still not enough to pay for the tuition.

But after all, you apply for a scholarship because you want to study without loans, not to pay up to 50 thousand dollars by yourself. So, I confirmed the acceptance letter from the UNL and headed to Nebraska to study my master degree.

My friend had teased me when I first arrived at Lincoln, saying that I dreamed for NYC and ended up in a small city like Lincoln. I only laughed at that time, thinking maybe NYC was not meant for me, yet.

But, six months after I studied at UNL, I got an email saying that I was invited for a Fulbright enrichment seminar at the Washington D.C. and when I asked the Indonesian Fulbright scholars group, I found out that Tyas and Naura also got the same invitation to D.C. After having a short talk, all of us decided that we would go to NYC first before attending the enrichment seminar.

Everything ran smoothly, just like meant to be. The permission to skip class for attending the Fulbright seminar and the arrangement to NYC and to DC, too. Not long after I received my invitation email, I was already at NYC! When arriving at NYC, I still could not believe it. It happened without much effort.

In the end, I realized that in life, destiny plays a big role in human’s life. If you are destined to be there, you will have many opportunities opened for you. It will just come to you, open up for you, and what you need to do is only saying yes or no.

So, the more I grow older, I learn not to have high expectation of anything. Just do my best and let the universe works the magic. If it’s meant to be for you, no matter how many years passed by, it will come to you at the end.

What is an Empath’s Purpose in Life?

Empaths Empowered


pexels-photo-440581.jpegOne of the most frequently asked questions by those on the path of awakening is: What is my purpose as an Empath?

I know only too well how frustrating it is to have this question burning unanswered within. It is also frustrating to have this incredible gift and not know what it is for or what to do with it.

Many Empaths feel they should be helping others. But because they get overwhelmed, by spending too much time around people, they don’t know how that would be possible.

It is an inbred trait for Empaths to want to be of service. And, it is often the case that the more an Empath has suffered the more they want to save others from enduring the same pain. They may look for certain vocations that will help make this possible.

Lihat pos aslinya 725 kata lagi


Big City Girl

January 24th, 2019

Coming back to the big city. For a temporary before going back to the states.


Gigantic and posh malls.

Transjakarta and commuting trains.

People hang out after working in the coffee shop offering beverages with price over the average. Dollar price for Rupiah workers. Talks in Indonesian language.


Blue collar workers.

Stylish men and women. Delicious food and varied menus. The hustle and bustle of a big metropolitan capital city: JAKARTA. People say it is the New York City’s version of Indonesia.

Meeting with three old friends at Plaza Senayan, South Jakarta.

First one is a friend who works as a producer at Kompas TV, the second one is a journalism lecturer at the Atmajaya University and the last one is a former Fulbright scholar who works at international NGO at Jakarta.

We talked over Pepper Lunch, over luxurious juice and ordered Indonesian food at Remboelan restaurant.

Nasi Bakar Tongkol Asap.

Tempe Mendoan Bumi Baturaden (Deep fried thinly sliced “Tempeh” garlic sauce and shallots dressing).

Rujak Penganten (Fresh mixed vegetable served with house special and spicy peanut dressing).

Lumpia Semarang (Traditional Semarang bamboo shoot spring rolls served with special sweet sauce, with choice of fresh or fried).

Nasi Bakar Roa (Grilled lemongrass fragrance rice, wrapped in banana leaf, stuffed with spicy smoked “Roa” fish served with “Roa” sambal).

Nasi Bakar Peda (Grilled lemongrass fragrance rice, wrapped in banana leaf, stuffed with peda fish, melinjo leaf and stinky bean).

Roti bakar es puter (toasted bread topped with special coconut ice cream, chocolate sauce, and peanuts).

It really feels like you are getting back into your element, again.


Reporting to Sulawesi: Touch Down, Palu

January 14th, 2019

07.00 o’clock. Selamat datang, Bumi Tadulako. Touch down at Palu, Central Sulawesi.

After flying for three hours, finally the plane (Garuda Indonesia) that took me from Jakarta was landed at Mutiara Airport, Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

I stepped out of the plane with a weird feeling. I could not believe that I did this professional project at Palu. I still remembered the first time dreaming about the incident, talked to Mba Adem about that and not long after that, she was assigned to report to Palu with BBC international team. I observed my fellow journalists covering the tsunami at Palu passionately on Facebook while writing my proposal on water scarcity reporting project at the campus library.

Baca lebih lanjut

Reporting to Sulawesi: Depart to Indonesia

Thursday, January 10th, 2019.

It was nine thirty at the Lincoln Airport (LNK). My plane would depart at 11.05 AM. It was still one and a half hour to go. But, I felt like wanna come early today to avoid the long lines and hustle bustle that I went through yesterday due to sudden cancellation from the United. Not only I had flight cancellation but one hour before my scheduled flight, the staff also asked me to get a short pass or visa on arrival to Japan (I’m gonna tell more about this below).

Baca lebih lanjut


Reporting to Sulawesi: the preparation

January 5th, 2019

It was started with a post in a Facebook. Here it goes:

"When you think you have enough with going to the field, but in the time like this, upon hearing disasters struck your country, your subconscious kept on telling you to write and report, to write and report and help people in need. You are sitting in your desk writing proposal for your professional project at your campus, but your mind keeps on wandering and focusing somewhere else. Journalism is not merely a job for some people, it is a calling. Once you are hooked, you will still have that feeling in yourself. It is eternal. Selamat bekerja teman-teman wartawan yg pergi meliput langsung ke Palu. Be safe."
Baca lebih lanjut