Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Seeing Nias through the eyes of Christina Kreps

Yesterday I went to the IHS' library to see the presentation from Christina Kreps, an expert from University of Denver.

I was hoping to see more about the traditional architecture as the invitation e-mail stated "This is a great chance to hear about the museum in Nias and the work on restoring traditional houses there. Do try to attend if you have an interest in Nias, in museums or in traditional architecture." The presentation wasn't actually what I was coming for (but perhaps I did not hear it? I came late, the shuttle bus schedule was not reliable...). Yet, I did have some other things to note.

First, she showed us how museum workers should open their minds to simple, cheap, and available things around them in providing a better storage for the museum collections. The classical problem of museum is always the lack of financial support. Then, the lack of knowledge for those persons in charge. In the big cities, like Jakarta, Jogjakarta, or Bandung, perhaps we can expect a lot of changes will come from the younger generations.

In some cases, there is still the need to improve our performance. I was told before that some young researchers who went to Netherland did not even understand Dutch. So how would they make their research on the old Dutch language? Even those who fluently speak Dutch could have difficulties in translating an old scripture written in old Dutch.

Christina Kreps had brought two Indonesians to be trained in the University of Denver. This programme is funded by Ford Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council. One trainee came from Nias, Nata'alui Duha, while the other one is Novia Sagita. It is encouraging to hear some friends comments on Novia Sagita who was presenting the research into oral tradition and history of ikat weaving design (through a project in Sintang, Kalimantan) November last year in the National Museum. She was able to impress her audience, it means that she was able to communicate her project to laymen.

Then, Christina documented how the traditional houses was able to stand up despite the hard blow of the earthquakes. That's something important as the traditional construction without nails is also an earthquake resistant structure, the local wisdom that we tend to forget in these recent days. Imagine if the earthquake happened in Jakarta...Will the construction of Plaza Indonesia remain intact like that? I knew that they were using a special construction system to avoid the impact of earthquakes, and I think it would not survive big earthquakes like those traditional houses in Nias.

She was also stressing out the importance of knowing the different living cultures in order to gain the best result on a tight budget. Integrating local resources and local knowledge is important in proceeding to a better result. A result that is responsive to the real need of the community, the true agent to keep all those heritages alive!

If people in the blogosphere are talking about the expert journalism, then it is really what we as citizen need. The problem is that some of those experts are too busy to provide an article with more popular way of featuring his or her subject. Journalists and bloggers (as netizen) are the bridge of those experts to a larger community. This is why we do need integrity, as we are providing information service that is need to be trusted!

Yesterday my father came to replace me picking up the children. I knew that some of my Indonesian friends would think that I was just spending money on transportation, and loosing time by attending to an event like this. Yes, it is for personal development! But as I knew citizen journalism, perhaps I could also share it through the cyber world. Hopefully it would help spread out the knowledge. It would then be really useful!

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