In commemorating the 15th anniversary of YES Program, Indonesian YES Alumni Association held the Domestic Exchange program between September 22 – 27th, 2017 in Bangli, Bali. With the theme “’Harmony in Diversity”, this program aims to celebrate Indonesian diversity by facilitating high school students to learn about their own national cultures. In this short exchange program, 20 participants from all Bina Antarbudaya/AFS Indonesia Chapters participated in various activities, such as living with Balinese Families, Intercultural Sessions, Community Service, School Visit, and Learning Local Culture.
Bali as one of the well-known island of Indonesia was chosen to host this event because of its rich traditional culture, as well as the place where diversity is part of everyday life. With the help of local Chapter Volunteers, some families in the area of Bangli, a region located in the North-West of Bali, are recruited to host students from different parts of Indonesia. Since for most families it was their very first experience to host a student, a briefing was given on the arrival day. There were 10 families that took part in this program, in which two students are being hosted in each family.
Other than living with local families, each day students are also doing activities organized by a committee consisting of YES Alumni, led by Rahmat Hidayat (YES 2015 – 2016), as well as several other Chapter Volunteers from Denpasar, Bali. On their first day, students were facilitated by YES alumni to share their hopes and concern participating in the program as well as a brief introduction to Indonesian YES Alumni profile and Intercultural Learning. On the second day, students were given a full day session on Culture, Values, and Communication Styles by Bina Antarbudaya/AFS Indonesia staff.
The third day was packed with activities, started with community service at Kubu Penglipuran Elementary School in the form of teaching Basic English to 3rd – 6th grade students. Seven YES Abroad students which at the same week are doing Indonesian language course in Denpasar, also joined this activity to share about American Daily Life as well as their exchange experience in Indonesia. Afterwards, Domestic Exchange participants with YES Abroad Students are learning 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, and currently serving as Assistant to the President’s Special Envoy for Dialogue and Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Cooperation. This session emphasize on several things, such as the importance of understanding different identities which shapes the Indonesian society.
On the fourth day, participants visited Bali Mandara High School in Buleleng Region of Bali. The boarding school is provided by the Government of Bali for poor students coming from household all over province. At school, students are not only doing regular academic activities, but also have the option of joining more than 50 extracurricular activities provided by the school. The school headmaster welcomed the Domestic Exchange program participants, as well as facilitating them for school tour and Q&A session between students. After the tour, participants returned to Bangli to join a session facilitated by the Vice Consul of US Consulate General in Surabaya, Indonesia. In an interactive and inspiring session, participants are being encouraged to dream big and to persist in pursuing their dreams.
On the last day, participants have some time to spend with their host families before preparing for a farewell night. In the farewell activity, YES Abroad students rejoined with the participants showcasing the traditional dance which they have learned in front of the host families, and other guests from different communities in Bangli. The Domestic Exchange participants are also performing traditional dance/music from their regions.
The Domestic Exchange program has successfully met its objective to help participants and others involved to learn more about different cultures. Participants also learned that differences are part of daily life, and it is something to be accepted. Hopefully this kind of project could be implemented in other regions of Indonesia for a bigger impact.