AIYA Links: 2 December

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Exciting and dynamic: Australia Indonesia Business Week

Perth, Western Australia is tightening its belt and is now looking North, beyond the mining boom and beyond WA to our vast neighbour, Indonesia. The bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia has enjoyed a relatively positive period over 2016 and by most accounts, that trend will continue. Over the last few weeks numerous Indonesia-focused events infused the city with splashes of batik and the scent of clove.

From 11 to 15 November, Perth played host to the Australia Indonesia Business Week. A five-day program comprised three key events, the Indonesia Business Summit (11 Nov); Indonesia Trade Fair 12-13 November); and the Australia Indonesia Business Council Conference (13-15 Nov).

The Indonesia Business Summit – Towards a New Chapter of Indonesia and Australia Economic Partnership – was a single-day event with a multitude of sector-specific panels from Aquaculture to the Digital Economy. The event had a strong attendance and whilst identifiable outcomes may be hard to come by, the continuation and transparency of dialogue is indicative of a bright business relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

Indonesia Trade Fair saw the coming together of 50 businesses from throughout the archipelago present public displays at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre. It was a vibrant and fun two-day event, free to the public and exceptionally well organised and presented. It was an opportunity to expose West Australians to Indonesia beyond Bali.

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Pak Ade Sarwono, Consul General of Perth speaking at the AIBC Conference, with Bruce Gosper, CEO of Austrade, to his right. Photo: Australia Indonesia Business Council

At the two-day AIBC Conference – Breaking Barriers and Building Bonds – in cooperation with their numerous sponsors the AIBC held constructive, open and engaging sessions centred around the IA CEPA (Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) and the  Turnbull-Jokowi era.

The conference team comprised members of the Australia Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and executive members of the Australia Indonesia Youth Association Western Australia Chapter. Chapter President Stewart Palmer, Chapter Vice President David Scholefield and Chapter Secretary Fiona Bettesworth (also AIBC YP) worked closely with the AIBC team to deliver a worthwhile and informative conference for over 270 delegates. This included the Honourable Paul Grigson Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Indonesia and His Excellency Nadjib Riphat Kesoema Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia.

Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield
Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield

Over two days, a number of panel sessions were held to inform, deliberate and produce meaningful dialogue between business leaders and government officials. Key note addresses were delivered from the likes of His Excellency Dr Bambang Brodjonogoro, Chairman of BAPPENAS, the Honourable Colin Barnett MLA, Premier of Western Australia, with panels led by the Honourable Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer, Australia and the Honourable Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Australia.

The conference was held only days after President-Elect Trump claimed victory in the US election. An entire panel was dedicated to exploring how the change of leadership in the US would affect business in Australia and Indonesia, with the primary focus of the panel being the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement). Honourable Kim Beazley, former Ambassador of Australia to the United States said, “the TPP is dead.” Discussion was frank, thoughtful and practical at a time when many are disillusioned at the state of global affairs.

Whilst many of the panels dealt with changing political landscapes, others focused entirely on the IA CEPA – identified as a key piece of legislation for both nations. The panel, entitled IA-CEPA: How the Negotiations Are Progressing, offered an insight into how significant the free trade agreement between Indonesia and Australia is, with comments given on the speed at which the negotiation is progressing and the push – particularly from the Jokowi administration – to ratify this agreement sooner rather than later.

The Indonesia Business Week proved to be exciting and dynamic. Governments and businesses are preparing and adapting to global political changes, and the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia, no stranger to tumultuous times, seems tinged with a rosy glow.

All panels are accessible for viewing through the Australia Indonesia Business Council Facebook page.

AIYA Links: 25 November

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Pengalaman AIYEP Yang Membangun Jaringan Profesional: Fati Ramadhanti

Nama saya Danti, saya adalah salah satu peserta AIYEP 2013/2014 dari Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia. Program AIYEP saya dilakukan di Sydney untuk fase Australia dan Sumatra Barat untuk fase Indonesia. Bagi saya, Program AIYEP ini sangatlah luar biasa dan merupakan suatu momen yang mengubah hidup saya. Berikut ceritanya…

Danti with her 'host sisters' at a festival in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Danti bersama saudara-saudara dari host family sesaat festival di Sydney. Foto: Fati Ramadhanti

Sudah tiga tahun semenjak saya ikut berpartisipasi pada program AIYEP dan ingatan itu masih sangat melekat dipikiran saya. Selama AIYEP, saya belajar banyak tentang Australia mengenai budaya, sejarah, nilai-nilai, cuaca, makanan, acara-acara tahunan, binatang dan lain-lain. Pengalaman ini sangat menakjubkan, terutama karena saya adalah peserta AIYEP. Kenapa demikian? Karena AIYEP memberikan saya banyak pengalaman yang tidak bisa saya dapatkan bila saya secara pribadi pergi ke Australia. Selama empat bulan program, semua kegiatan telah dijadwalkan dan semua GRATIS!

Lebih daripada itu, saya mendapatkan banyak sekali pengalaman berharga, seperti tinggal bersama host family, bernyanyi dan menari di depan anak sekolah, liburan yang sangat menyenangkan, bekerja di perusahaan Australia dan mendapat banyak network baru. Semua dalam satu program. Menakjubkan, bukan? Karena AIYEP saya juga mendapatkan kesempatan istimewa untuk bertemu dan disambut oleh Gubernur New South Wales, Walikota Kiama, DFAT, Konsulat Jendral Indonesia di Sydney, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.

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Danti bersama mantan Dubes Australia ke Indonesia, Greg Moriarty. Foto: Fati Ramadhanti

Pada saat AIYEP, saya belajar banyak hal dan bertemu banyak orang baru dalam waktu yang singkat. Saya bisa menyebutkan puluhan hal menarik yang saya temukan di Australia. Namun, di sini saya hanya akan menceritakan tiga hal yang menurut saya paling menarik. Pertama, Australia banyak memiliki acara-acara yang sangat menyenangkan. Salah satunya adalah ‘Jurassic Lounge’ yang diadakan di Museum Australia. Acara ini sangat menarik karena diadakan di museum. Tidak seperti museum pada umumnya, pada acara ini banyak hal lain yang ditambahkan di dalam museum tersebut, seperti permainan, musik, pencahayaan khusus, photo booths dan kafe. Puncak dari acara ini adalah pada saat penyelenggara acara memainkan musik dari tahun 1980 hingga 2010 secara berurutan dan semua orang yang berada disana ikut bernyanyi bersama. Hal ini mengingatkan saya kembali ke masa-masa saya saat bersekolah dulu. Ide mengemas acara anak muda ini di sebuah museum, menurut saya sangatlah kreatif. Saya berharap Indonesia segera bisa mengadakan acara seperti ini juga.

Hal kedua yang sangat menarik tentang Australia adalah budaya kerjanya. Pekerja di Australia sangat disiplin dan terorganisir. Selama saya bekerja disana, supervisor saya yang hanya lebih tua tiga tahun dari saya, sangat pintar dan berbakat. Pada usianya yang masih sangat muda, dia sudah menjadi seorang project manager, bisa berbahasa Prancis dengan sangat lancar, mendapatkan beasiswa untuk sekolah Master dan sudah mengetahui banyak hal mengenai investasi untuk masa depannya. Dia bahkan mengajari saya bagaimana cara untuk memilih saham yang baik untuk berinvestasi. Hal ini sangat menginspirasi dan membuat saya bertekad untuk menjadi orang yang lebih baik.

Danti - Me and My Supervisor - Sydney
Bersama pembimbing di Sydney. Foto: Fati Ramadhanti

Hal ketiga yang menurut saya menarik adalah kebiasaan orang Australia pada saat makan siang. Saya sangat terkesan karena orang Australia senang makan siang (sambal piknik kecil) di taman. Di Indonesia, hal itu sangat jarang terjadi.

Saya mendapat banyak kesempatan bagus, mengunjungi banyak acara tahunan dan budaya, dan melihat banyak perbedaan selama saya menjalani program AIYEP. Semua yang telah saya sebutkan di atas, mungkin akan terdengar sangat biasa dan sederhana untuk para orang Australia. Namun, untuk saya pribadi, hal ini adalah hal yang baru. Pengalaman-pengalaman selama saya di Australia, sudah mengubah sudut pandang, nilai-nilai kehidupan, bahkan mungkin sudah mengubah hidup saya secara keseluruhan.

Di program AIYEP, saya tidak hanya menemukan jati diri saya sendiri, namun saya juga telah menemukan sekelompok orang yang sudah saya anggap seperti keluarga saya sendiri. Sekarang, ke manapun saya akan pergi ke provinsi-provinsi di Indonesia atau ke negara bagian di Australia, saya memiliki teman yang bisa saya kunjungi. Selain itu, pengalaman, skills dan networks yang saya dapatkan pada saat AIYEP juga telah membantu saya mendapatkan pekerjaan dan beasiswa untuk melanjutkan studi saya.

Cultural performance for AIYEP participants. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Pertunjukan kultural bagi peserta AIYEP. Foto: Fati Ramadhanti

Berdasarkan hal inilah, saya merasa lebih banyak orang Indonesia yang harus mengenal Australia. Begitu juga sebaliknya, lebih banyak orang Australia yang harus mengenal Indonesia. Hanya dengan merasakan dan menjalani perbedaan kebudayaan itu sendirilah kita dapat memahami dan lebih menghormati kebudayaan orang lain serta menyadari kesamaan-kesamaan yang sebenarnya kita miliki. Karena, Indonesia dan Australia pada dasarnya adalah “tetangga”, negara kita terletak berdampingan. Dengan saling memahami dan meghormati, orang Indonesia dan orang Australia dapat menjalin hubungan yang lebih baik secara perseorangan maupun sebagai suatu negara.

Refleksi ini adalah bagian kedua dari serangkaian refleksi dari para peserta Program Pertukaran Pelajar Australia-Indonesia (AIYEP). Bacalah lebih banyak tentang pengalaman peserta AIYEP di sini. AIYA ingin mengucapkan terima kasih banyak kepada Samantha Howard atas bantuan yang cukup besarnya dengan menyunting artikel-artikel dalam seri ini. Dia dapat ditemukan online di sini dan di sini.

My AIYEP Experience In Building Professional Networks: Fati Ramadhanti

My name is Danti and I was an AIYEP participant in 2013/2014, representing the province of East Kalimantan. During my time in AIYEP, I travelled to Sydney for the Australian phase of the program and to West Sumatra for the Indonesian phase. AIYEP was a fantastic and life changing experience. Let me tell you why.

Danti with her 'host sisters' at a festival in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Danti with her ‘host sisters’ at a festival in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

Although it has been three years since I participated in AIYEP, I still hold the memories close to my heart. Through the program I was given the opportunity to learn about Australian culture, history, values, weather, foods, events, animals and more. I had experiences in Australia that would have never been possible if I had travelled by myself, and the best part was that the program was free!

My fondest memories were living with a host family, singing and dancing in front of high school students, and working and networking within an Australian company during my internship. I also had the opportunity to meet and be welcomed by the Governor of New South Wales, the Mayor of Kiama, staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, staff at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, and more.

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Danti with then-Australian ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

I learnt so many things and met so many people in such a short time. I could tell you dozens of things that I loved about Australia, but let me tell you my favourite three. Firstly, Australia has lots of different and cool events. One of my favourites was the Jurassic Lounge, held at the Australian Museum. This event featured interesting lighting in the museum, Xbox games, music, photo booths and cafes. It was such a creative event and I liked how the managers made the museum a place for youth to hang out. I wish we had events like these in Indonesia!

Secondly, what I loved was the Australian working culture. Australians are very disciplined, talented and organised. The supervisor during my internship was only three years older than me, however he was already a project manager, can speak fluent French, had received a scholarship for his Masters degree and even taught me how to invest in good stocks! I was very inspired by him to develop my own skills. Thirdly, what I also found interesting was how Australians eat their lunch. Australians love to eat their lunch outside in the park so that they can see the greenery and breathe in the fresh air with their friends and co-workers. This is not common in Indonesia.

Danti - Me and My Supervisor - Sydney
Danti with her supervisor in Sydney. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

I discovered many differences in our cultures between Australia and Indonesia during AIYEP. While most of the experiences I mentioned might seem very common for Australians, they were new experiences for me as an Indonesian. The AIYEP experience changed my perspectives, cultural understanding, values and even my whole life. Not only did I discover myself but also a whole new group of people that I now consider my family. Now anytime I go to a province in Indonesia or a state in Australia, I have friends to catch up with. Furthermore, my experiences in AIYEP gave me better opportunities and greater networks to help me in my career. Thanks to AIYEP I was able to work as a Finance Management Trainee with Nestle Indonesia, and received a scholarship through The Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education.

AIYEP allows Australians and Indonesians to learn more about one another. We are only 2,000 miles apart, yet the cultures and environments are vastly different. Only by experiencing the cultures for ourselves can we understand each other’s values and know what similarities we have in common. We are neighbours. Understanding one another will benefit us to build stronger relationships as people and as nations.

Cultural performance for AIYEP participants. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti
Cultural performance for AIYEP participants. Photo: Fati Ramadhanti

This article is one of a series of reflections from alumni of Australia-Indonesia student exchange programs. Read the experiences of other AIYEP participants here. The editors of the AIYA Blog would also like to thank Samantha Howard for her assistance in commissioning and editing these articles. You can find her solo and collaborative blog and journal writing here and here.

AIYA Links: 18 November

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My AIYEP Experience Living in Australia: Nurzahara Amalia

Nurzahara Amalia (Zahara) of Banten was an 2013-14 Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) participant, and here shares a reflection on the ups and downs of experiencing life in Australia.

I was born to a simple family in a small town in Pandeglang, the furthest West part of Java Island. My mother is a housewife and my father was a teacher. When I was in junior high school, I dreamt of going abroad. I thought this might never be possible as my family wasn’t a rich family and you need a lot of money to travel overseas. At that time, I thought it was just a dream. I never thought that it would happen.

But then I had a chance to make this dream come through, by applying for the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program. I applied in 2012 but I failed. Was I upset? Yes! Did I give up? No! The next year, I tried again. I practiced so hard, even taking an English course to better prepare. When preparation meets opportunity, it’s called success. I cannot tell you how great the feeling was when I set foot at the Sydney airport for the first time, it was indescribable!

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Zahara interning at SBS Radio Indonesia. Photo: Nurzahara Amalia

I joined AIYEP as a representative from my province of Banten. The program has two phases: the first in Australia and the second in Indonesia. During my stay in Australia, I had so many new experiences. It was the first time I had lived with foreigners. Experiencing a new life requires you to adapt quickly and be flexible. It was particularly difficult for me to adapt to the food. I had heartburn and a stomach ache in my first week. I wasn’t eating rice and I even threw up when I tried Vegemite. But my favourite food is fish and chips. It’s delicious!

The Australian phase had many activities including cultural performances and an internship. As part of the first phase, every Monday my friends from the program and I went to schools to perform Indonesian professional dances. I was so happy seeing the audience looking so excited. I felt so proud of my own country because of its diversity. We interacted with students after our performances, which enabled me to learn more about Australian culture.

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The dance crew post-performance. Photo: Nurzahara Amalia

The second part of the Australian phase was an internship. I interned at SBS Radio Australia, working every Tuesday until Friday. I had a really kind supervisor and enjoyed my time there. I learnt how to produce news and how the broadcast system in Australia works. I learnt about discipline and punctuality. I remember one time when I woke up late so I missed the train. I felt so ashamed to come late because I was worried that they believed all Indonesians were always late. I learnt from that experience to always wake up early.

I also learnt about the Australian people. They are nice, speak with an open mind and quite bluntly, and are helpful and hospitable. The country is clean and orderly. I miss my time in Australia, and I miss the fish and chips. I miss the program and the people and am grateful for my opportunity through AIYEP.

This article is one of a series of reflections from alumni of Australia-Indonesia student exchange programs. Read the experiences of other AIYEP participants here. The editors of the AIYA Blog would also like to thank Samantha Howard for her assistance in commissioning and editing these articles. You can find her solo and collaborative blog and journal writing here and here.

Ni Komang Santi: dari Jualan Jagung Hingga Jadi Koordinator Spa

Simak cerita seorang perempuan dari Bali bernama Komang Santi yang pernah dapat sukses dalam kehidupannya melalui berniat yang kuat dan mencoba sebanyak-banyaknya untuk berkembang secara profesional dan pribadi.

Saya lahir di Karangasem di Kabupaten Kubu, daerah pergunungan. Tanggal lahir saya sebenarnya 10 Juli 1992 tetapi beda kalau di KTP. Ibu melahirkan saya di rumah dengan cara tradisional. Sebenarnya dulu melahirkan di rumah itu malahan lebih bagus daripada di rumah sakit karena ada dukun bayi.

Komong Santi di tempat kerja. Foto: Komong Santi
Komang Santi di tempat kerja. Foto: Komang Santi

Karena desa saya ada di atas gunung, dulu motor tak bisa naik, apalagi mobil dan kita harus jalan kaki. Di sana cuacanya kering sekali dan susah nyari air. Dari kecil saya diajak oleh ibu untuk ikut jualan di Badung. Awalnya, kita menjual garam, kadang-kadang kita nukar sama beras. Kita keliling sampai Nusa Dua. Biasanya kita membawa dua karung, dan kalau habis, kita pulang. Setelah itu, karena sudah terlalu banyak orang lain yang ikut jualan, kita memilih untuk pindah ke Kuta. Saya pernah ngamen. Ngamen di lampu merah Jimbaran sama ibu. Botol kosong itu saya kasih batu dan nyanyi-nyanyi. Malu ya kita… but it’s okay.

Sorenya saya ke Tuban. Kita ngelapin motor di sebuah mini market di sana. Paginya kita ke pasar Kuta dan bantu untuk ngangkat-ngangkat belanjaan orang. Karena ada Bom Bali pada tahun 2001, kita nggak bebas lagi. Kalau ngamen gak dibolehin, ditangkap. Akhirnya ibu memutuskan untuk saya jualan jagung dan kita pindah ke Jalan Legian. Setiap hari, itu dua kali saya jualan. Paginya saya bawa 50 biji jagung rebus di kepala dalam keranjang, dan itu kadang-kadang panas sekali karena plastiknya bocor dan air itu netes di badan saya. Saya jalan kaki, jualan bolak-balik di pantai. Itu 50 biji jagung harus habis. Kenapa saya sangat beda dengan kakak saya yang tinggi-tinggi tapi saya pendek sendiri? Mungkin itu karena dulu saya jualan jagung itu (haha).

Setelah itu, jualan jagung nggak dibolehin sama pemerintah. Sometimes kita berpikir ini nggak boleh, itu nggak boleh, bikin stress. Akhirnya, saya mulai berjualan gelang-gelang kecil-kecil di pantai. Sebenarnya itu juga tidak diperbolehkan karena kita masih kecil. Kadang ditangkap, dimasukin ke asrama gitu, tapi kita kabur (haha).

Bersama keluarga angkat. Foto: Komong Santi
Bersama keluarga angkat. Foto: Komang Santi

Saya umur sebelas tahun waktu ketemu sama bapak angkat saya. Masih ingat sekali. Waktu itu saya lagi marah sama ibu karena nggak dapat hasil dari jualan, dikira main. Saya kabur tiga hari ke Jalan Legian. Karena sudah terbiasa hidup di jalan, saya merasa tidak masalah. Saya ambil kardus kosong dan tidur di emperan jalan. Karena hujan, saya pindah ke papan berbentuk V, dan diam di dalamnya. Nah, dilihatlah sama babak angkat saya. Saya diajak makan. Dibeliin pizza. Wow! I really love pizza! Itu pertama kali saya makan pizza. Setelah makan, dikasih 50 dolar untuk bekal, jadi saya bisa pulang. Saya kasih uang itu ke ibu dan ibu bisa masak untuk keluarga. Seminggu lagi, bapak angkat datang untuk ketemu sama orang tua saya dan mintalah untuk saya diangkat jadi anak mereka karena istrinya belum bisa punya anak. Saya pindah ke rumah mereka dan disekolahkan.

Di sekolahan itu, walau umur saya sudah sekitar dua belas tahun, saya masih bergabung sama anak-anak TK karena saya sama sekali nggak tahu huruf. Dari kelas satu sampai kelas tiga… Saya kadang-kadang pakai seragam sekolah. Akhirnya selama tiga tahun, saya bisa baca, bisa nulis sedikit, saya dicariin paket kayak SMP atau SMA tapi saya menolak. Karena saya harus membantu keluarga asli saya, akhirnya saya berhenti sekolah. Sambil bersekolah, saya belajar training spa di tempat kakak sepupu saya. Pulang sekolah, saya ke sana dan bisa melihat caranya massage. Karena kebetulan ada terapis cuma satu, saya ditawarin untuk mengambil lagi satunya. Pulang sekolah, kerja di sana dan dapat uang kalau ada tamu. Waktu itu saya ingin sekali bisa hidup mandiri. Akhirnya saya kumpul cukup uang untuk ngekos. Tapi kosnya masih sangat sederhana. Waktu ibu angkat saya mencari saya, dia kaget melihat kamar saya, tidur di lantai, pakai kardus.

Dengan seragam baru setelah lulus masa trial. Foto: Komong Santi
Dengan seragam baru setelah lulus masa percobaan di tempat kerja. Foto: Komang Santi

Saya ingin mencari pekerjaan yang lebih yakin dan saya mulai melamar di daerah Legian. Waktu itu saya hanya bisa satu treatment, yaitu Balinese massage. Akhirnya, lamaran saya diterima dan saya dapat training beberapa treatment lagi. Akhrinya saya menikah. Setelah menikah dan melahirkan anak pertama saya, saya mulai bekerja di villa. Di sana saya mendapatkan banyak pelajaran profesional. Itu membantu saya menutupi kekurangan saya karena tidak sekolah.

Karena mereka melihat niat saya untuk belajar, saya dicalonkan untuk pindah ke suatu tempat dengan pendapatan yang sedikit lebih tinggi. Waktu saya ikut interview, saya menceritakan kekurangan saya. Syukurlah beliau mengerti keadaan saya. Sekarang saya kerja dengan orang yang sudah kuliah. Kadang-kadang saya sadar bahwa ternyata pola pikir saya dengan orang yang kuliah S1 itu hampir sama. Kadang-kadang di sekitar saya ada yang mengeluh dengan apa yang dia punya tetapi sebenarynya, kalau diceritakan, pengalaman saya jauh lebih buruk daripada mereka. Cerita saya membuat motivasi mereka: “Wah, ternyata ada orang dari latar belakang yang jauh lebih buruk daripada saya tapi dia bisa menutupinya.”

Jadi saya selalu punya pikiran seperti ini: kesuksekan seseorang bukan dari seberapa tinggi pendidikan mereka, tapi seberapa tinggi usaha mereka, seberapa tinggi niatya mereka, seberapa tinggi cita-citanya mereka.

AIYA Blog mengucapkan terima kasih banyak kepada Jane Ahlstrand atas bantuannya menceritakan kehidupan sulit para pemuda di Indonesia yang kemudian dapat sukses dan kebahagiaan. Artikel-artikel yang lainnya dari Jane dapat dibaca di sini.

AIYA Links: 11 November

Don’t miss your chance to vote in NAILA People’s Choice ballot, and check out the highlights reel from this year’s contest!

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Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2016: a feast of Indonesia-focused content

From human rights and politics in Asia to the role of activism and art, Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2016 (UWRF16) traversed five days of enthralling panel discussions, dynamic performances, readings, film, poetry, exhibitions, workshops and food, cementing its position as Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas.

In its 13th year, the UWRF again saw strong attendance figures of over 30,000, and significantly greater diversity in ticket sales, with Indonesian audience numbers up by 31.5% from 2015. Eminent historian and Festival stalwart Ian Burnett remarked during the Festival: “There is no country more diverse – culturally, ethnically, linguistically – than Indonesia.” The following is a wrap-up of the many Indonesia-focused UWRF16 highlights.

Guests arrive at the UWRF Gala Opening. Photo: Anggara Mahendra, UWRF
Guests arrive at the UWRF Gala Opening at Antonio Blanco Museum. Photo: Anggara Mahendra, UWRF

Indonesian literary luminaries Seno Gumira Adjidarma, Dewi Lestari and Eka Kurniawan delighted fans and snared the attention of unfamiliar listeners. Fearless environmental and human rights activists Agustinus Wibowo (East Java), Emmanuela Shinta (East Kalimantan), Bayu Wirayudha (Bali) and Shandra Woworuntu (West Sumatra) shook audiences to the core. The remarkable resilience of human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu, whose organisation Mentari helps fellow survivors reintegrate into the community and find meaningful work, brought many to tears. After her in-conversation with revered journalist Janet Steele, an audience member tweeted: “Incredible session, a heartbreaking and inspiring story that needs to be heard.”

Shandra Woworuntu
Shandra Woworuntu. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF

The 16 Emerging Indonesian Writers selected from 894 entrants to be included in the Festival’s annual Bilingual Anthology – a treasure trove of Indonesian writing and essential Festival souvenir – were a prominent force throughout. Many of these rising stars lauded the linguistic diversity of Indonesia – and the urgency to preserve it – writing and speaking in Minang, Madurese and Balinese. Emerging Writer Deasy Tirayoh said at the launch of the Anthology, “Ubud Writers & Readers Festival shows us that Indonesian writers can rightly stand alongside the global greats.”

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Emerging Indonesian Writers at the launch of the annual UWRF Bilingual Anthology of Emerging Indonesia Writing. Photo: Anggara Mahendra, UWRF

Dalam Bahasa Indonesia was an extremely engaging panel for speakers, and learners, of Indonesian. Moderated by writer, actor and musician Ketut Yuliarsa, it featured much-loved Indonesia commentator Elizabeth Pisani, esteemed literary and academic translator Jennifer Lindsay (the long-time translator of Goenawan Mohamad’s essays), and Gemi Mohawk, a poet from Palembang, and one of the Indonesian Emerging Writers.

The panelists discussed the origin and rapid evolution of Indonesian, with Jennifer Lindsay addressing the marked increase in the number of Indonesians whose first language, or co-first language, is Bahasa Indonesia, rather than the local language of their mother or father. “There is a depth to Indonesian that wasn’t there in the ‘70s,” she remarked.

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Elizabeth Pisani and Jennifer Lindsay. Photo: Keyza Widiatmika, UWRF

Indonesians’ rampant device and social media addiction was unraveled in the panel Screen Addicts. Moderated by writer and journalist Michael Vatikiotis, it also featured Pisani alongside Dewi Lestari and Triyanto Triwikromo, the 2015 Tokoh Seni Pilihan Tempo. Triwikromo was decisively negative about social media, claiming “We are entering a different kind of war. A war of thoughts, of ideas. It’s virtual but we take it literally.”

Dewi Lestari declared that Indonesians’ screen addiction is a “national problem”, lamenting sadly, “I don’t look at the trees and sky anymore. My screen keeps occupying me. It has become the everyday scenery.” She did, however, speak at length about the huge benefits of social media marketing for her books, and that she has witnessed “a lot of positive social communities arising from social media”, even comparing her Twitter communities to arisan [a neighbourhood lottery gathering].

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Screen Addicts panel: Dewi Lestari, Michael Vatikiotis, Triyanto Triwikromo and interpreter, and Elizabeth Pisani. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF
Audience members take notes during Screen Addicts. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF
Audience members take notes during Screen Addicts. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF

Intrepid and incisive independent Indonesian cinema has long been a pillar of UWRF. As well as the Film Program, which was a mini Indonesian film festival in its own right, there were two panel discussions devoted to it – Camera Obscura, which analysed Indonesia’s film industry, and Cinematic Indonesia, addressing cinema’s role in shaping and narrating Indonesian identity. The film screenings and both panels attracted major audiences.

Bringing celebrity status to the Festival were firebrand Indonesian auteurs Slamet Rahardjo, Djenar Maesa Ayu, Richard Oh and Joko Anwar, along with wunderkind filmmaker Wregas Bhanuteja. At just 23 Wregas received the Leica Cine Discovery Prize for Short Film at Cannes for Prenjak (In the Year of Monkey). Wregas was a firm Festival favourite – the showcase of his short films was packed and over the course of the Festival he probably snapped at least 100 selfies with adoring fans!

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Capacity crowd at indie cinema Betelnut for the showcase of Wregas Bhanuteja’s award-winning short films. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja
Wregas meets fans after the screening. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF
Wregas meets fans after the screening. Photo: Wirasathya Darmaja, UWRF

No UWRF wrap-up would be complete without a special mention of the veritable army of 300 volunteers working tirelessly across all areas of the Festival – as MCs, photographers, venue supervisors, technical support and as writers’ liaisons. The vast majority of them hail from across the archipelago, and many return year after year having formed lasting friendships.

UWRF16 volunteers. Photo: Anggara Mahendra, UWRF
UWRF16 volunteers. Photo: Anggara Mahendra, UWRF

At the closing night ceremony Janet DeNeefe noted that the UWRF – at 13 years old – is now a teenager. “It has truly found its feet in the international literary festival environment,” said DeNeefe, “while staying strong to its commitment of raising up regional voices alongside recognised names. This is evident in the increased audience diversity which, in line with the wider goals of Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, to which the UWRF belongs, we’re incredibly proud of, and we look forward to building on this in the future.”

DeNeefe continued, “I applaud the brave artists and speakers who joined us this year, and the audience – from young Indonesian students to our UWRF stalwarts – who helped create the powerful, magical space for which the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has become famous.”

Be sure to keep an eye on the AIYA Blog in the lead-up to UWRF 2017 for special discounts on UWRF tickets for AIYA members, or perhaps you’d even like to volunteer! For more info about the Festival head to the website