By Naomi Yakawich
The room is crowded with smiles and as the young people engage in lively conversation, a passing observer would describe he gathering as more of a family affair than a workshop for overcoming religious and cultural differences.
Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Indonesia’s Peace Project is a yearlong program held simultaneously in several major cities across the country, including Jakarta, Bandung, and Palangka Raya. The project invites students, families, community leaders, and government officials to take part in discussions and evenings of cultural performances to bridge the diverse communities that give Indonesia its motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Unity in Diversity.
“Every year there is always a new community or new friends involved and it’s a lot of fun being able to meet and learn from each other and share experiences about the beauty of peace and diversity in Indonesia. This harmony is created because we all feel as a whole family,“ explained Novan, a Program Manager for GPF Indonesia.
The program aims to especially appeal to youth and already involves more than 500 participants.
Each city that organizes a Peace Project conducts a series of events to promote religious and cultural unity. Some invite local storytellers who paint examples of harmony and tolerance with their historical and cultural stories. Some host events at local orphanages, places of worship, or city monuments where youth have the opportunity to gain insight on the variety of historical, cultural, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds of people in their own communities.
Yayah Khisbiyah, a representative from BPI Pancasila who participated in the Jakarta Peace Project with her 10-year-old son, expressed how grateful she was that the program included not only “top level” leaders, but also everyday citizens who make change happen. “I deeply appreciate how GPF Indonesia works to continue to spread the values of peace among the grassroots, especially young people and families. I support this kind of program to continue so that it can be duplicated and developed in other places.”
A woman from Bandung was thrilled to meet other young people who were open-minded to the great religious and cultural diversity in her city saying, “We can get to know each other, exchange ideas, and become more open minded to a thing. And if possible, activity among youth like this cannot stop. We have to keep going every year.”
The program highlights the principles of Indonesia’s democracy called Pancasila, forming the basis for the freedoms and rights of people in Indonesia. Learn more about Indonesia’s Peace Project and sign up for monthly newsletters so you don’t miss the latest on peacebuilding from around the world.