About Helene Jönsson, Cecilia Björkqvist & Iegor Vlasenko

Helene, Cecilia and Iegor are blogging from the International Student Conference on Global Citizenship in Bandung, Indonesia January 2016.

Update from amazing Indonesia!

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.

12484706_10208676576377656_4930831923266536351_oWe 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!

A man creating Wayang puppets outside his home

A man creating Wayang puppets outside his home

Let the show begin!

Let the show begin!

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.

Trash to the left, houses to the right...

Trash to the left, houses to the right…

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 🙂

Traditional dance with feathers...

Traditional dance with feathers…

...and with plates. Ending with this guy smashing his two plates and jumping on the broken pieces!

…and with plates. Ending with this guy smashing his two plates and jumping on the broken pieces!

Angklung concert

Angklung concert

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.

First days in Indonesia

(C – Cecilia, H – Helene, Y – Yegor)

Showing off our t-shirts in Bandung!

Showing off our t-shirts in Bandung!

Y: OK, so we don’t have any experience with blogging, but the time in Indonesia is definitely worth telling about. Let’s maybe try to summarize the brightest impressions and moments of these days? For example, I still remember the moment when I went out Jakarta airport and immediately felt like floating in a thick soup-like air full of strange flavours. Today’s breakfast was notorious, too.

H: Yes, the breakfast was a bit too heavy for me actually. I’ve really come to love Indonesian food though! It’s very different from Swedish cuisine, and uses a lot of spices, tofu and tempeh. Also I find that the different Indonesian islands have their own identity. I spent some days on the Gili islans, and there were no motorized vehicles, everyone was on bikes or horses. Very relaxing atmosphere, and I found it very different from both Bali and what I’ve seen from Java so far. One thing that’s the same is that everyone I’ve talked to is incredibly nice and helpful.

C: After a wonderful week in Bali I arrived at a busy Jakarta Airport. A lot more crowded than Bali but with the same friendly and helpful people. Our first day consisted of two very interesting lectures focusing on sustainable agriculture and world transformation and a lot of socializing with the other participants of the conference. I have, for example, learned a lot about the Japanese culture and traditions!

Y: Oh, yes, this is very true – I’ve met so many cool people from all over the globe and learnt so much new about their culture and traditions. Indonesian culture of course stands out, I was really impressed by traditional dancing and music. Indonesia turned out to be a home for numerous local cultures, each with its own language and distinctive traditions. I am also very much looking forward to the cultural evening at the conference.

H: I’m also curious about that. We have a lot of traveling planned actually with the conference. We are visiting the City Dump of Bandung, a Green Village, the city Yogyakarta and the cultural Wayang Village, where they create traditional shadow puppets. Plenty to look forward to!