Thursday, 1 May 2008

Intercultural Dialogue

Intercultural dialogue for me is actually related to communication tools. When I was very young I used to have a lot of pen pals. I had friends from Indonesia, Brazil, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Poland, and the USA. We used to exchange letters telling each other our way of saying things, our cultures, and our own interests. I got those pen friends mostly from the International Youth Service (IYS). The language that made us able to have dialogue through letters is English. Along with it we taught each other a bit of our own languages. My very intensive communication was with the French girl named Mireille Faїn. Then, I was attracted to learn French language; that was how I came to know Centre Culturel Français (CCF). The way I studied the French language in CCF was also an intercultural dialogue. We were exposed to the French culture through readings and dialogues, and there were some native speakers with whom we also share our culture.

Another way to do the intercultural dialogue is by student exchange program. I happened to have some friends from Australia and New Zealand through the AFS exchange program. They came to my school as a student for several months while they lived in my schoolmates’ houses. We learned from each other. It was the first time I knew for real that foreign people are not always richer than Indonesian. One student who was living with my friend’s family told us her happiness because her host parents bought a lot of things for her, things that she had dreamt to have for a long time. There were also different way of living between the girl from the countryside and the girl from the city. I was told how one of our new friends used to milked cows in her family farm. Then there was also the story how to get the wool from the Romney. They also shared news from other friends who had other schools to attend.

My cousin who was younger than me had a better experience as she was able to join the program and was sent to Australia. She was really happy to have that kind of lifetime experience. In fact it made her pursued her further study abroad. Her host parents did visit Indonesia and we were sharing stories about our different cultures and our different lifestyles.

I studied English from school, and from the English course offered by PPIA-LIA, an Indonesian American Friendship Association (now they split into PPIA and LBPP LIA). Then I continued to IPPM, a business school, to continue advancing my English for business (now their language program is closed). Yet, practice is needed to keep the fluency of using a language.

A reader was accusing me of exaggerating the British Council after reading my post on The British Council and The Tools for Intercultural Dialogue. It might seem that way if it was the only blog post he read. I was trying to gather information on the British Council as a citizen reporter. I was focusing in the British Council activities. Personally, my own attachment to the British Council was its library. I think they were focusing on civil servants and public IELT’s examination before. I’ve been closer to the CCF than to the British Council.

These days the British Council is also reaching out to the public. I was invited to the British Council Blogger Day. They were encouraging blogger to blog to enhance the intercultural dialogue. I think that would be more global than my pen friends’ era. Anybody could peek in our posts and gave comment. At least I am now attracted to know more about the Esperanto.

I’m keen to write about the British Council not only for the Blogging Competition, but because they are now opening their services to the public. I’ve put the banner here to attract bloggers’ attention to this event. This blogging competition is open for those who blog in English and for those who blog in Bahasa Indonesia, there is no limitation of language. I think it is good as most Indonesian bloggers are still hesitant to be a bridge blogger, they prefer to blog in Bahasa Indonesia. I’m deliberately become a bridge blogger to gain communicative exchange of information with the global world. The important issue here is not the competition, but the topic of this blog competition. The Indonesian market can gain the prospective information through the blog posts in Bahasa Indonesia, while the bridge bloggers can help spreading the information to the global world.

I've said that the British Council is now opening their services to the public (more than before) as they were conducting events for non civil servants as well. The British Council Blogger Day is one small example. A better representation of the intercultural dialogue is the yearly award for creative person. Indonesian candidate who came to this event can continue to exchange creative ideas with other participants from other countries. In 2006 the Indonesian participant gained a special prize together with another friend from India. The award given are varied each year, but the British Council are now reaching out to the young talents of Indonesia to start building the intercultural dialogue in creative industry.

I’m trying to focus myself on the British Council as there were a lot of events that might not be seen by others. I was informed by the director of business services and relations for the British Council Indonesia, Dina Lucky, in the recent BC Blogger Day, that they are arranging an Indonesian student and a student from the UK to live six months in the UK and six months in Indonesia. There will be some couples each sharing the same roof for a whole year, six months in their partner's country and six months in their own country. If they are to keep an online journal or just share their stories through citizen journalism websites, it would also be a great intercultural dialogue!

The British Council is not only targeting the youngsters, they are also helping to accommodate high level dialogue. I’ve read in the printed daily Kompas that the British Council together with the Department of International Development, also supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London were conducting a conference in the theme of “Indonesia: Political and Economic Prospects”. Although most of the content of the discussion were to keep off the record, the journalist Julius Pour made us readers aware that there was a high level dialogue conducted there. Perhaps the cold weather in Wiston House, Sussex, could help cooling down the hot debate, than if it was conducted here in the hot Jakarta. There were also foreign speakers who contributed their views in the intercultural dialogue in talking about the internal topics in Indonesia. Pour said that by watching and being involved in this discussion in Wilton Park, things can be seen through clearer lens.

There are a lot of ways to do the intercultural dialogue, and there are a lot of parties who are encouraging these intercultural dialogues, not only the British Council. The Indonesian Heritage Society is also another group that enhancing the intercultural dialogue, I like joining this group for that reason. Bloggers are also a part of doing this intercultural dialogue. The global world sometimes seen flatter than ever, yet dialogues are always important aspects to gain peace!

No comments: