Project Update: Peacebuilding in Indonesia through Collaborative Digital Media Engagement

As projects from the U.S. Alumni TIES “Education for All: Inclusion and Access as Pathways to Peace” in Portland, Oregon continue to cultivate local change, Fulbright ETA alumni Jessica Peng provides an update on her innovative project. The project, “RANGKUL: Kolaborasi Lintas Kultur,” seeks to build bridges across religious and ethnic barriers by joining youth from different backgrounds in building digital projects related to tolerance and celebration of differences.

You can read more about Jessica’s project and other U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant winners in our previous post here.


RANGKUL: Kolaborasi Lintas Kultur

Amidst religious and ethnic tensions that have developed over the course of the last year in Jakarta, Indonesia, RANGKUL: Kolaborasi Lintas Kultur launched as an outreach program that aims to bring together high school students of different backgrounds to address tolerance in their communities. As part of the program, participants are tasked to develop digital media projects on issues related to tolerance and peacebuilding in groups. Each group is under the mentorship of a local filmmaker or photographer. The program consists of three activities. First, program participants take part in a weekend retreat that aims to strengthen their capacities in the areas of leadership, conflict resolution, intercultural communications, and media literacy. Second, students meet at a follow-up weekend in order to intensively work on their projects. Third, students showcase their projects to members of their communities at a public exhibition.

On August 4, 2017, RANGKUL launched with a weekend retreat in Sukabumi, West Java. On an early Friday morning, 14 girls from an Islamic high school and the other 15 boys from a Catholic school from different Jakarta neighbourhoods boarded a chartered bus. The bus ride to the retreat was rather quiet, as the girls and boys sat separately. Once the group arrived at Selabintana Conference Resort, the retreat began with icebreakers and get-to-know-you activities. After dinner, participants engaged in a series of activities that prepared them to engage in intensive conversations about identity-based, social, and political issues.

The second day of the retreat was packed with a range of activities. In the morning, program facilitators, Hardya Pranadipa and Utami Sandyarani, led sessions on conflict resolution, intercultural communication, and leadership with the students. In the afternoon, students and their mentors participated in an outdoor teambuilding treasure hunt. The evening wrapped up with a session on media literacy where students were asked to analyze Indonesian media artefacts and a panel presentation from the program mentors.

On the final day, students worked in groups and with their mentors to conceptualize their respective video and photography projects. Students developed project proposals that included a workplan and a budget proposal. After lunch, the students boarded the bus to return to Jakarta. The trip back was considerably louder than the first day’s trip as the participants chatted, played games and sang throughout the eight-hour ride.

A week after the retreat, the RANGKUL program gathered all participants at the Jakarta Creative Hub, a brand new facility provided by the city of Jakarta that aims to grow the city’s entrepreneurial and creative industry. Karen Schinnerer, Cultural Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, visited the program to speak to students about resources and educational opportunities through the U.S. Embassy. Students spent the next few hours working on their projects by traveling around the city to capture images and video clips. In the afternoon, the program closed the day with a session on social media strategizing. Social media expert, Hertiana Dwi Putri, helped students strategize about promoting their projects and addressing sensitive issues that they may confront on social media.

The next day, the program visited @america, the American cultural center under the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the venue of the program’s upcoming public exhibition. Jasmin Jasin, a well-known education leader in Jakarta, worked with students to think about sustainable steps they can take to continue their leadership and advocacy in the areas of tolerance after the program ends. Again, students spent several hours working on their projects. The day ended with a public speaking session that helped the students plan their presentations that are taking place the following week. Each group had the opportunity to rehearse their presentations in front of their peers and two public speaking experts, Astrid Kusumawardhani and Fitria P. Anggriani, for feedback.

Moving forward, students will premiere their projects to the public at RANGKUL’s Exhibition: Collaboration Across Difference Through Digital Media on August 18, 2017 at @america.

Written and contributed by Jessica Peng.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.