Essay for UNESCO 3rd International Youth Forum in Seoul 2014

I am interested to East Asia’s issue because in the past 5 years I had a chance to live in East Asia such as Japan and China for study and work. I also had a chance to be in South Korea for short term youth exchange. I found the unique of diversity between these countries. They actually share similar culture such as bowing to respect other people, using chopstick for eating and also have some similarities in language. I do love the experiences I spent there and I feel like these 3 countries are my 2nd home after Indonesia.


I am surprised when my essay has been selected for UNESCO International Youth Forum. I actually got the announcement on my birthday this year! Here are three essays that I wrote for the Youth Forum. I hope you enjoy reading my long essay!

Political Utilization of History and Deepened Historical Conflicts.
It is always mentioned in the journal and article that limiting the issue to historical dispute between East Asia countries is the fundamental resolution to solve the problem. I think it is a good way to create positive mind and new energy in every individual to face their future life. But there’s also many controversial issues about East Asia countries such as distortion of history textbook. I think limiting the issue doesn’t mean distorting or erasing some of the historical stories.
In 2010 I had a chance to visit school in Osaka, Japan. This program is called visiting school and foreign visitors are asked to introduce their own country, perform traditional music and introduce traditional games to the student. At that time I was quite surprise because few of them know nothing about my country Indonesia. They don’t even know about Japanese attendance and establish political control in Indonesia during WWII. The surprising thing is that there’s student who comes often to Bali and he didn’t recognize that Bali is one of Indonesia’s island. I actually want to think in positive way that probably the student doesn’t know the history and geography about the country because he is not interested or probably the tourism team in Bali doesn’t explained well about Bali and Indonesia.     The foreign visitors once have private discussion with teachers regarding this issue. The teachers explained that they actually regret for the wrongdoing in the past and sincere for the Imperial’s Japan’s invasion and evil activities. That is why the students can’t find it on history book or maybe can find a very short explanation with non-offensive language. It is said that they want young generation to care about harmony relationship, avoid war, and think positive. As some books and research said that with the positive mind and energy we will be always surrounded with positive things. So this way might work well but for me personally I tend to choose knowing the past history for personal reflection. In my opinion, utilize historical memory for politic will be an obstacle to objective understanding. There might be misunderstanding between East Asia countries if young generation doesn’t know the past history of their country or their neighbourhood. I think by knowing the bad past memory, people can realize about real history facts, teach us how to deal with the past problems, how to avoid the second mistake, forgiving the cruel memory and learn about resolution for historical dispute.
The controversy and distortion about history education book is not only happened in Japan but also in Korea, China, East countries and South East Asia. I might give one example of the controversial history in Indonesia. There’s a pretext of mass murder called G30S (Gerakan 30 September) happened on 1965-1966. In the previous history book it was said that the movement done by Communist Party in Indonesia and since that most people really hate the communist party or even they will not allow people using the symbol of communist party in daily life. Previously the controversial documentary was always played in local TV show so that all Indonesian think that the real perpetrator is the communist party. After the reformation, Indonesia had new president and some books about G30S mass murder came out in different opinions. Probably there’s other people who did the mass murder for the supreme power to be in highest position in Indonesia and they use Communist party to hide their identity. This controversial history creates different point of views and confuse Indonesian. G30S still remains a matter of controversy and leaves question over the facts. There’s no specific info and detail information about the perpetrator. This ambiguous information creates negative feeling towards people in Indonesia who are the heredity of Indonesia communist party’s member.
In my opinion, we can’t hide the real fact of history. It is also better to rewrite history using non-offensive language for trans national approach. Accept history book from other country to be read by local student is also a great way to broaden individual view. Well, talking about historical interpretation is always related to plural point of view. I also think that there’s no mono-historical interpretation. If youth can read from various source of historical book, they will have broad view about how the world think about our past history. It is difficult also to choose which one is the best source for the history reference. So it is better we learn and get information from various sources. I think learning history is not about finding who is the best or worst but about learning the past experience to guide us for better future.

Interaction, Exchange, and Cooperation in East Asia History.
It can be said that the relationship in East Asia is very complicated because each country has different ideology or I might said it is about divergence. In terms of religion they have Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholic, Chirstianity, and Shinto. In terms of politic they have socialist, capitalist, and monarchies. East Asian is also the only one in the world with cold war legacy between North and South Korea. These problems bring the countries into complex relationship and it comes to the new challenges such as transnational crimes and terrorism.
I personally see that the way forward for East Asia cooperation can give greater achievements in the decades to come. It is understandable that people from each country in East Asia has different point of view, way of life, traumatic from the past history. Beside their diversity, I think they have the similarity such as bowing to give respect, use chopstick for eating, share the same writing character and share some similar traits. If they had broad mind, openness toward the diversity, they will take it as the unique tools to find the hidden work net between the elements and create aspiring cooperation between countries in East Asia.
I personally see that East Asia cooperation in design, architecture and economic has been fruitful. Previously I worked in Japanese architect and there’s a a collaboration project between Chinese designer named Jiang Qiong Er (Artist director of Shang Xia) and Japanese architect named Kengo Kuma. Shang Xia product is a brand that promise a unique encounter with the heritage of Chinese design and craftsmanship. In this project, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma try to collaborate in the interior design of Shang Xia showroom. There’s a similarity with these two designers that they want to preserve and reinvent the new ingenuity of modern cultural product. During the project I observed that the two designers discuss about an idea of culture, design and heritage. This collaboration design help Chinese designer to preserve Chinese heritage with the collaboration of Japanese culture inside. At the end they successfully create gratifying design for human being. I might say that they rarely discuss about the past history between China and Japan and how bad is the relationship of both countries. This little example of corporation and interaction in both countries create positive energy within countries in East Asia.
It is said also that education and culture exchange in East Asia is one of the best way to create mutual understanding from individual. As I believe that the concept of reconciliation and good cooperation between the two countries should resolve and permeate several layers of special units from individual, family, community, nation and then international. One of the good example of the education and culture exchange is OUSSEP (Osaka University Short Exchange Program). This program provide students around the world including East Asia countries to have research based on their major and let them communicate with local Japanese and other nations. In this exchange, people can get more skill in their education major and also learn how to share, life and respect to new people from diverse culture and nations. As a student, they will face same difficulties in university life and they need to become together in order to survive in the new community. I think this condition makes the relationship between each nation become closer. During one year exchange, I met friends from East Asia and understand about the diverse between them. The exchange program teaches them to live together and to create mutual understanding to help them survive in new university life. Their collaboration in education can also help to solve world global problems. In this condition, I see that they don’t really matter with the past history conflict because the present life is not influenced of the cruel past memory. This kind of exchange can immerse ourselves in the cultural tradition of East Asia to appreciate and understand its diversity and richness.
I think the forward cooperation and interaction in East Asia can be a great achievement if they could maximize their common interest, accept the divergence and diversity in broad mind, embrace openness and inclusiveness.

The Role of Youth For Shared Understanding of History in East Asia.
Youth is on the golden age period of life. They are compassionate people who have high sensitivity to others, new idea, neutral background, flexible, creative and innovation. I believe that youth can perceive the same problem differently to the elders. With these characters, youth is a hope for shared understanding of history in East Asia.
Since I am in art related major, I would like to share my experience about youth role that is related to artworks in shared understanding of history. Common people who are not interested to issue about East Asia conflict, politics and other policy will have less awareness to this urgent issue. I think art is one of the best media to encourage their awareness in the current issue. Youth who live in the period of golden age have tons of creative idea and they are the one who can help the problem in East Asia. There’s one video competition called Imagine Cup from Microsoft Corp. which aim to show the awareness to current conflict in the world and the theme is about Imagine a world where technology helps solve the world’s toughest problems. Animation video is a soft tool to encourage the awareness of the conflict issue and it is expected to persuade people to understand the diversity and accept it as uniqueness. By joining the Imagine Cup competition, the youth can contribute to shared understanding and hope it could affect the people surround. In this Microsoft Imagine Cup, my team show the animation about the dying world because of the lost of humanity and less respect to diversity. This behavior affect wound to the victim such as nuclear war, abortion, suicide, air & water pollution. In the middle of animation, we show how to deal with the problems and give flash back animation to show that the wound won’t be happened if they follow the message from the video. The animation video contain simple message and easy to be understood to common people. The animation video is a neutral position and it is the best for the shared understanding. This simple video message from the youth is expected to be seen, shared around the world, and the simple message will still remain to each viewer around the world. The animation video is shared in social media such as youtube and it is easily accessed to public. The animation video is the best way to send message to people because image and graphic are easy to be memorized. Check the video below and please choose the 22nd video on playlist. The video title is Love Letter for The World.

On 2009 I joined an exchange program called OUSSEP (Osaka University Student Short Exchange Program). This exchange gives opportunity to students in East Asia, ASEAN, USA, and Europe to do research about theme which is related to their major and they also can learn about live in complex culture together with other exchange student in Japan. During one year exchange students will have many activities and shared culture to other. East Asia students are from Korea, China, and Taiwan. They will stay in the same dorm and have general class about culture and Japanese language. In daily life during the exchange program, they live together and face difficulties together. In this situation, they learn about understanding each other, respect the diversity and learn how to adapt in any kind of situations. Beside culture matter, this exchange also let them to share their idea about education and it is possible for the participants to collaborate their skill for future education. I am sure through education, youth can learn understanding between others and work together to achieve a future goal together. They will be in a moment when they find themselves interconnected as never before.
It is expected that students can share their memories in exchange to other people when they come back home and the more important thing is they can keep contact to other exchange student. It is expected also to build positive relationship to youth around the world. And last, I believe that UNESCO youth forum is a great opportunity to share understanding between nations. Youth around the world from diverse background and culture can hear various opinions about reconciliation, and share understanding of history. I believe that in the future, youth will be future leader, decision maker, and policy planner. After this international youth forum, I am sure they will continue the mission in the future.

– end of essay-

During the forum we are all separated into 4 groups and we were asked to discuss about these 3 sub themes. At the end, we made real project for shared understanding. We also surprised when we were selected as the best and got Best Presentation Award from UNESCO.


We call our project : “Sharing Without Borders”. We are now working for the project website. This website is for shared understanding over the region and generation. The purpose is to promote exchange, interaction and cooperation in East Asia and beyond. We look forward for your participation!
I will definitely update about our project on my blog and other social media. The explanation about this event is also published in UNESCO news, please check the picture below.(sorry, it is only in Korean language)
and last , a photo of me in DMZ. The ribbons behind me are the peace message for Korean War.
Ok thank you for stopping by and reading this article. Comments are loved!
Photo source : faniatmanti

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