Wow. What a fantastic week! Fascinating lectures covering everything from different aspects of sustainable agriculture, post-war reconstruction in rural areas, to the effects climate change has on rural development.
We also got to visit a cultural, village in a rural area; Kepuhsari, also known as Wayang village from the traditional shadow puppets they create. UNESCO recognises the art as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and it has been part of the Javanese culture since the 8th century. During our visit we were given a guided tour through the village, were invited to javanese food, and got to try our hands at either creating Wayang puppets, Wayang glass painting, or playing the traditional Gamalan instruments. As a finale we were treated to a full Wayang puppet show. All in all, a fantastic day!
However, we also got to see the darker side of Java. You cannot have sustainable development without the environmental aspect, and one of the biggest problems on Java today is the trash disposal. We visited the Bandung City Dump Sarimukti. This is where all the trash from Bandung area ends up as landfill. No real sorting is done beforehand, everything is just dumped here, creating mountains of trash. People then make their living sorting through the trash by hand, gathering what’s valuable and reselling it. They make their houses as close to the trash as possible, to be able to be the first ones on site when the garbage trucks arrive. Doing this they make the equivalent of 4 USD per day (according to the world bank, 1.90 USD per day is the limit for what is considered extreme poverty). It was incredibly difficult to witness.
To end on a positive note, we also got to be part of some truly amazing cultural performances. They put on a fantastic show with various traditional dance styles, and we all got to play the traditional instrument Angklung together 🙂
The academic part of the conference was summarized during the Role-play exercise, where participants were divided into working groups and was asked to provide recommendations regarding sustainable development of Wayang village. Each group focused on a certain area like environment, infrastructure or business and trade. In the end, each proposals was discussed and debated on, with some really tough negotiations when it came to expected budget and success measurements. This exercise allowed us to practice our public speaking skills, also serving as an excellent way to summarize our experience and make an attempt to help the villagers who were so kind to host and welcome us.
The closing moments of the conference were indeed memorable thanks to cultural performances where participants from each country had a chance to present their national music and dances. For instance, Helene and Cecilia introduced a traditional Midsommmarfest song, which received a truly warm welcome. The closing ceremony also became an award ceremony, with certificates handed to all participants. Summarizing the roleplay debates, teachers also came up with several additional nominations, among them Best Spokesperson award handed to our Yegor Vlasenko.
The evening after the closing ceremony became a time for socializing, fun and last good-byes. Next morning we took a bus that brought us to busy Jakarta, where we had our flight back to Sweden.