Hundreds of eager and optimistic young Indonesians from all over the archipelago gathered at the Thamrin 9 Ballroom of the UOB Plaza in Central Jakarta on Saturday to attend seminars given by notable experts to enlighten themselves about the current issues and problems of the country, and to exchange knowledge and come up with solutions for a better Indonesia.
The 2012 Indonesian Youth Conference, as in previous versions, is divided into two main events: the forum and the festival. Commencing on July 3 and ending on June 6, the forum gathered 66 envoys and delegates representing the many provinces of Indonesia in seminars and workshops. Attendees, coming from Yogyakarta, Tasikmalaya, Surabaya, Makassar and even from Papua, came with an open mind and willingness to learn. Throughout the forum, they learned about themselves to know what they can contribute to the nation, which problems to tackle and how to execute their plans.
The event began with opening remarks by forum director Yori Rambe. In his speech, Yori explained that the delegates and envoys represented the unity of Indonesia. He also hoped that, with the event, the country’s development would not be concentrated on Java island.
Anindita, a delegate from Central Java, explained her duty as a delegate: “After we return to our homes, we are expected to execute the social projects that we came up with in the forum and are given two years to make them happen.
“I’m targeting university students, to inform them further about their own culture. I’ll start with simple things: to get them to know that our traditional dance isn’t just Tari Gambyong, and our traditional food isn’t just lumpia,” she added.
The IYC team encouraged teenagers to join in seminar and discussion sessions. The managing director of salingsilang.com, Endah Nasution, and the executive director of KataData, Metta Dharmaputra, discussed the many advantages social media offers us during the “Journalism and Social Media as a Weapon” seminar. Giving as examples the Arab Spring and the Coins for Prita movement, to name a few, Endah and Metta showcased the power of new media, a tool that was once foreign to the public but now known to have the capacity to further unite Indonesia in erasing injustice.
However, if used unwisely, Metta said, new media can be as a double-edged sword. He emphasized the pitfalls of the new media and pointed out that users should look at information critically before accepting them as fact. “It’s good to gather additional information, but don’t use it as a tool for verification,” he said, taking into account the vast number of anonymous Twitter accounts in Indonesia’s today political landscape.
In the “The Never Ending Spirit of Creativity” session, the director of RuangRupa, an organization that strives to support the progress of art ideas within the urban context, Ade Darmawan, emphasized that creativity on its own is nothing. He said creativity has to be supported by critical thinking. Ade also pointed out the irony presented by the success of the student-built ESEMKA car and the collapse of the Kutai Bridge in East Kalimantan. As we praised and celebrated the birth of an innovation, we also mourned over a destruction. “We [Indonesians] are creative, but we don’t have a vision. We aren’t critical.”
“Indonesians are great. We are great in our power of consuming. We consume anything; be it technology, gadgets and religion. We take it all in without questioning,” he explained.
Indonesian artist and actor Didi Petet, on the other hand, challenged the attendees to close their eyes and imitate a famous move popularized by the late King of Pop Michael Jackson. As the participants of the seminar laughed at the absurdity of his request, Didi pointed out that their response was what’s holding back people from creativity: it’s this inhibition that holds back the flow of creativity, or as Indonesians call it, “gengsi.”
“This gengsi attitude is backward-minded. You shouldn’t care too much about what others think. Be responsible and know your limits, but don’t let others stop you,” Didi said.
Suryadi, famously known by his stage name Pak Raden, was unveiled as the surprise guest of the night. Majority of the attendees, ranging from teenagers to young professionals in their mid-20s, weren’t even born yet when Si Unyil, the popular educational puppet character, began appearing on TV, but his legacy and optimism have made him a legend in Indonesia.
Festival director Satrya Damarjati said, “We know that Pak Raden is a very inspiring figure with his tales, a figure that never fails to encourage the youth to appreciate their own culture.”
Conceived, executed and attended by the youth, IYC is solid proof that this generation isn’t a generation of apathy and decadence. These youngsters are striving to erase the image of the hedonistic youth. “I hope that in the future, IYC can influence Indonesians to improve their country. My wish for the youth is for them not to wait for change, but make the change now because it’s us who decides the future of Indonesia,” Satrya said passionately.
Participant Mako Mira Lysistrata, an international relations student, said: “I attended the festival to open and change my mindset, to build networks, to make friends all over Indonesia, and to progress as a person. And I found them all in IYC.”