By Naomi Yakawich
In a warmly lit room in Semarang, Indonesia, forty young people chat together with equally warm smiles. On first glance, an observer would not have suspected that the newly made friends actually came together from a variety of faith, cultural, and even language backgrounds. Determined to be the leaders in building harmony and peace in their diverse country, the Indonesian youth are a part of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Indonesia’s Peace Talk Nasantara program held in cities across the nation.
With such diversity, how is it possible to communicate so intimately?
Joko Prihatmoko pointed out that the country is built on a noble statesmanship in which every tribe in Indonesia is entitled to use their own language, however, when people come together they chose to use the official language Bahasa Indonesia, “the language of unity.”
Indonesia is a country that is built and thrives in its diversity, earning it the motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or “Unity in Diversity.” The goal of the Peace Talk program aims to help young people connect with the core principles that unite all Indonesians while preserving and upholding the culture of their region.
Eko Pamuji, a sometimes taxi driver, witnesses every day how diverse his region and country can be. "People in Semarang are very strong in maintaining tolerance, even actively rejecting ideology that has the potential to harm harmony. We are composed of various ethnic groups, but are able to live together peacefully. Young people should learn about local wisdom, so they can apply it into their daily life.”
Kalista, one of the Peace Talk participants, was overwhelmed by how she could relate to people so different from her based on the values shared across their regional divides. “Now I can see that we can do something to develop and maintain tolerance and our local wisdom in this city, for our nation,” said Kalista.
Local business owners and nonprofit groups celebrated the ongoing Peace Talks. One owner of the café hosting one of the programs, Antok, stated, "This activity is very good especially for the young generation so they can know how amazing the values of local wisdom and culture of Indonesia.”
"The importance of the young generation to continue to preserve the culture of their region, and be able to adapt to the culture of the region he visited, is very influential in the development of a city, especially in preventing the existence of conflict in the community,” said Novan, Program and Communications Manager for GPF Indonesia. “Peace and harmony will be created when the noble values are maintained, helping to counteract radicalism and extremism among young people today.”
Another Peace Talk was held in Yogyakarta and organizers stated that the program would continue to be hosted across regions. Learn more about the Indonesia Peace Talk program and sign up for monthly newsletters for the latest from Global Peace Foundation.