YES alumni in Indonesia decided to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the YES program by promoting the goals of YES and using skills they gained during their exchange year. The Indonesian YES Alumni Association organized a domestic exchange program from September 22 – 27th in Bangli, Bali. With the theme “’Harmony in Diversity”, the program’s goal was to celebrate Indonesian diversity by facilitating high school students to explore their own national traditions and cultures. During the program, 20 participants from regions across Indonesia participated in various activities such as living with Balinese families, workshop sessions on intercultural communication, community service and developing presentations on the diversity of cultures and traditions within Indonesia.
Bali was chosen to host this event because of its rich traditional culture and as a location where diversity is part of everyday life. With the help of local volunteers, families in the area of Bangli, a region in the northwest of Bali, were recruited to host students from different parts of Indonesia.
Other than living with local families, each day students were participating in activities organized by a committee of YES alumni, led by Rahmat Hidayat (YES 2015 – 2016), as well as several local volunteers from the AFS Indonesia chapter in Denpasar, Bali. On the first day, YES alumni led students in a discussion of their hopes and concerns for participating in the program and also gave students an introduction to the YES program and YES alumni association. On the second day, students took part in an interactive, full-day session focused on basic concepts and theory of intercultural communication and leaning.
The third day was packed with activities, starting with community service at Kubu Penglipuran Elementary School in the form of teaching basic English to 3rd – 6th grade students. Seven American YES Abroad students, who were participating in an Indonesian language course in Denpasar that same week, also joined the activity and shared American culture and daily life as well as their exchange experience in Indonesia. Afterwards, both the domestic exchange participants and the YES Abroad students learned traditional Balinese dance with the help of local volunteers. The day ended with a session on interfaith dialogue, facilitated by Jacky Manuputty, a peace activist from Ambon, Indonesia, who is currently serving as Assistant to the President's Special Envoy for Dialogue and Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Cooperation. Among other things, the session emphasized the importance of understanding the many different cultures and traditions that shape Indonesian society.
On the next day, participants visited Bali Mandara High School in the Buleleng Region of Bali. The boarding school is administered by the Government of Bali for students from low-income families all across the province. The school provides not only regular academic activities, but also more than 50 extracurricular activities. The school headmaster welcomed the domestic exchange program participants, led them on a school tour and then facilitated a question and answer session with Bali Mandara students. After the tour, participants returned to Bangli to meet with the Vice Consul of the US Consulate General in Surabaya. In an interactive and inspiring session, participants were encouraged to dream big and to persist in pursuing their goals.
Participants spent the final day of the exchange with their host families before preparing for the farewell activities. YES Abroad students reunited with the participants to perform the traditional Balinese dance they had learned earlier for the host families and other guests from different communities in Bangli. Then the domestic exchange participants each performed traditional dance/music from their home regions.
The domestic exchange program successfully met its objective to help participants and others involved learn more about different cultures and the importance of valuing diversity. Hopefully this kind of project can be implemented in other regions of Indonesia for a bigger impact.