“The best diplomacy is through children, and I am happy and proud at Indonesia’s participation in this festival,” said Dewi Motik Pramono, chair of Kowani, who spared her time to Hamar during her short visit in Oslo, Norway.
This is the fifth time that Embassy of Indonesia in Oslo participated in the Stoppested Verden Children’s Festival (SVF) in Hamar, about 120 km north of Oslo, which is the biggest children’s festival in Norway.
The festival, held on 2-3 June 2012, was organized by SVF committee in cooperation with Jernbarneverket Norsk Train Museum, Hamar City Council, and various institution and society groups in Norway.
Aksel Hagen, current Chair of the Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration, in his opening remark conveyed his hope that this festival would bring better knowledge and understanding of the diversity of international cultures towards children and young people through various activities and cultural performances, and whished everybody a good time with the festival.
Meanwhile, Christel Meyer, ex-vice mayor of Hamar who now a member of the City Council stated that even though many parents came with a tired face after a week’s work, they always came home with a happy face. Thus, she hoped that the festival will grow and be organized each year even until decades to come.
Indonesian Ambassador to Norway, Esti Andayani, agreed with Dewi Motik that understanding of cultural difference is very important for children. “Through such festival, children are introduced to various different cultures, which not only will increase their knowledge, but also will improve their sense of tolerance,” she uttered.
Besides SVF, the Embassy of Indonesia also actively supports Barnas Verdendager Children’s Festivals, which are conducted in more than 10 cities in Norway annually. The biggest would be in Oslo during the Oslo World Music Festival this upcoming November.
On the same note as Esti, Mocci Ryen, SVF head of organizing committee said that this year’s festival became very important to improve aspects of integration, after last year’s tragedy of 22 July.
“It is also important that inclusions aspects are growing, in the effort of increasing understanding and tolerance towards cultural diversities. I am happy to see more parties participating in the festival, and the number of attendance also significantly increasing this year,” Mocci exclaimed. A number of 9,000 people attended SVF this year, significantly increasing from last year’s number of 8,000 people.
“Indonesia has always been a favorite in Stoppested Verden, with many interesting activities attracting children’s attentions. That is why we always invite the Embassy, and we are happy to have the Embassy every year,” she added.
Children’s enthusiasm towards different cultures from throughout the world inspired Dewi Motik to come up with similar idea in Indonesia. She was impressed that the festival, which took place at a museum complex, not only has introduced children to different international cultures, but also has also taught them the history of transportation in Norway.
Thus, the festival has also made the museum more and more popular in Norway.
The concept of having the festival in the train museum was also to show children that with transportation, they could go wherever they want in the world, explained Mocci. To illustrate that, children could take train provided by the museum to go from one end to the other end of the festival, as the museum complex was quite big.
“Indonesia has similar potentials,” said Dewi Motik to Mocci, “we have the Train Museum in Central Java, and it will be very interesting to see similar festival held there,” and later she also explores possibilities of having cooperation with the SVF committee, which was enthusiastically welcomed by Mocci.
As many as 38 international cultures were represented by various institutions and society groups in Norway participate in this year’s festival, including Indonesia which was represented by the Embassy. Among cultures represented were from Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Burundi, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Netherland, Pakistan, Russia, Nepal, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.
The international cultural diversities have managed to steal Norwegian children’s attention, who enthusiastically participated in many activities offered by each stand, or enjoyed performances in main stage, albeit the rain and cold wind.
In this year’s festival, the Embassy of Indonesia offered various activities for children, among others are wayang (leather puppet) workshop, batik jumputan workshop, mini gamelan, and various traditional games such as congklak, gasing, egrang, and yoyo.
Children and their parents were also spoiled with Indonesian chicken and lamb satay. In addition, Anak Indonesia, who brilliantly performed the Kembang Tanjung - Bajidor Kahot and Merak dances at the main stage, taught children to dance Bajidor Kahot along with them. Poco-poco dance, which was taught for the first time in the festival, also received a warm welcome.
The batik jumputan workshop became one of children’s favorite. One of them even returned the next day bringing a white t-shirt to color. “I really love the colors of batik jumputan, and I want to make a batik t-shirt,” he said excitedly. The batik jumputan workshop, which drew a large number of crowds, had apparently attracted the attention of local NRK TV reporter to cover Indonesian booth more detailed. We explained to them that batik jumputan indeed had different technology than the widely known method with wax, but still one type of batik enriching Indonesian national heritage.