We are Indonesia’s Future: Millennials and Our Nation’s Cultural Wealth

Culture and communication; both are entities that are bound and reciprocally related. The existence of this relationship makes it important to understand their pattern of connectedness if we want to examine the characteristics of a group or society. Understanding the cultural roots of a community is the key and “weapon” of any community towards realizing their values, beliefs and identity.

On Saturday, 24 November 2018, Indonesian Institute of Advanced International Studies (INADIS) held a workshop called “DISTRAKSI (Diskusi-Interaksi-Kreasi): Dalami Budaya untuk Karya Kita/DISTRAKSI (Discussion-Interaction-Creation): Deepening Culture for Millennials’ Skillsets)” at Koléga Coworking Space, Tebet, Jakarta. A total of 16 attendees actively took part in the talkshow-workshop, where they got to choose between three fields in which they wanted to deepen their skills in; writing, body expression, and graphic design. INADIS Executive Director, Amira Waworuntu, opened the event by stating that the theme is perfectly in line with INADIS’ aim to promote and maintain Indonesia’s (cultural) identity amid the current of globalization. Another more pragmatic purpose is to deepen and sharpen the skillsets needed in order to face that current; by learning more about the aspect of culture, we not only upgrade our knowledge but also the value of our work.

"Understanding the culture of the archipelago properly and correctly will strengthen us in exploring various aspects of knowledge", stated Mitu M. Prie, the first speaker who happens to be an archaeologist and anthropologist active in conducting studies and research in various regions in Indonesia for years. She explained the importance of introducing and bringing aspects of cultural roots closer towards millennials, if possible in a more popular method. During her session, she explained how rich the culture of the archipelago was through various archaeological findings in the form of stupas and artifacts that were still mysterious and unknown to the world; even to Indonesia itself. Therefore, she sees the importance of delivering information through this event for millennials to realize that there is an abundance of Indonesian cultural heritage that must be studied and explored by young people in their daily lives and professions.

Mitu M. Prie also emphasized that the recent trend to travel for young people is actually a good thing if it can be developed well, not only limited to photos that can be shared on social media; it should also be a trigger towards a cultural journey. She believes that millennials need to get to know the archipelago and Indonesia's wealth closely, opening up for self-reflection on who and where their background is, so that in five or ten years they can spearhead this nation; those who are most aware that Indonesia consists of various cultures. Therefore, peace and harmony are values that must be maintained in order for this to happen.

The second speaker was Maharani Megananda. She is the founder of an independent theater community called Pandora, which is formed by a majority of University of Indonesia alumni. She previously worked at the Presidential Staff Office as a special staff in politics, but was bold enough to choose pursuing her career in advancing Indonesian performing arts. She believes that her passion is a form of cultural interaction; through art she believes she can dedicate her love to Indonesia and show it to the world.

In her presentation she highlighted various problems that usually cause fellow millennials to forget their roots. Various technological developments, which caused the intensity of peer-to-human interaction eroded, changes in social distance that replaced meetings with the convenience of cyberspace, as well as changes in intermediaries that changed individual work mechanisms in society that are now becoming really quick. She is aware that the development of technology is an inevitable thing, but the question is how do we stay upright to compete in the world while carrying the characteristics of our culture, if we ourselves do not know who we are?

“Ownership of art, culture, and identity requires deep meaning. Feelings of empathy and gratitude are two things that we as millenials of this nation need to have.”

Krizia Angelina was the third speaker; INADIS’ graphic designer who is also experienced as a lecturer and fills in her free time as an illustrator. In her presentation entitled "Local Inspiration for Global Areas" Angel began discussions with various works of art to stimulate participants. Some of the artwork, brands and illustrations she presented in her slideshow were works of art produced by young Indonesians, who were valued internationally but had not received much attention in Indonesia itself.

She highlighted the vast perception among Indonesian youth is that traditional culture is no longer relevant in today's modern world. However, the reality is actually ironic; many foreigners appreciate the uniqueness of Indonesian culture, which can be seen in examples of artwork by young Indonesian artists who incorporate a touch of Indonesian culture who have succeeded in competing in the global market. At the end of her presentation, she questioned the participants, “If you are receiving inheritance, you will likely manage it well. That should be even truer for our abundance of cultural heritage. If it is not us who create from it, then who will?”