By: Rahayu Matruno Anwar
106 years ago, May 20, 1908, was born the first youth movement namely Boedi Oetomo (Budi Utomo). This movement marked the rise of the spirit of unity, nationalism and an awareness of the fight for independence of the Republic of Indonesia. The spirit to break away from colonialism, to catch up and free the nation from backwardness became the values of unity that increasingly crystallised and created a moral strength within the nation. Twenty years later these values contained in the pledge of Soempah Pemoeda, in October 28, 1928.
The youth struggle during those heavy times was focused on the achievement of national independence. The Independence of the Republic of Indonesia was eventually obtained through a long struggle. It has been nearly 69 years since the age of independence. If this country were a human figure, physically he would be old and weak. While his soul should be rich with life experiences. Every word he said becomes a valuable legacy to his offspring.
As a nation that began to ripen, how successful are we in inculcating and passing down the noble values of our ancestor to young generation who will sustain and be the successor for the future of our nation?
Why young generation? There is no other reason to say except that the youth are the driving force of the dynamics of a nation. Boedi Oetomo organization was born because of the initiative of the youth. The Youth Pledge was triggered because of the strong resolve of the youth. Almost any forms of major changes in the earth were spearheaded by youth. Name few examples; 30 years of the Suharto regime was collapsed because of the youth move for change, then many acts of reform after his fall. The 42-year regime of Muammar Qhadafi collapsed because of similar reasons. Vietnamese obtained independence from the youth patriotism that light to all levels of its society. And many more examples of the major movements that occur due to the guts and the courage of youth.
The youth has such a tremendous and strong role in the survival of a nation. Our first President, Ir. Sukarno once said “Give me a thousand of elder people, I will pull Semeru from its roots. Give me ten young men, I will shake the world. “” A thousand of elder people could only dream, but a young man can change the world.” What amazing!
But now many of us have a big concern that our young generation could not filter the influence and the widespread of globalisation era that in some parts contribute to the depletion of youth nationalism. The easily accessed internet unquestionably has wrapped the world within grasp. Virtually, everything becomes spaceless, timeless and borderless. The western cultures captured the youth interest. While the nation’s cultural heritage or traditions seem to be underestimated.
Has it ever crossed in our minds, how well is actually our young generation knowing the beautiful places around this beloved country? How big is their interest in exploring the country which is also called as the equator’s emerald?
I posed the questions above with amused curiosity , particularly after watching a talk show on one of private TV about two weeks ago. Being asked by the host of the show, a female group band that consists of nine young girls sheepishly acknowledged that they did not know where Bromo Mountain was located. Quite alarming. Don’t you think so?
If Bromo mountain that is famed with its sea of sand is escaped from their knowledge, let alone the exotic beauty of islands in the east parts of Indonesia that many tourists called as the Africa of Indonesia such as Flores, Sumba or Papua with its marvellous Raja Ampat.
When our young generation lack of knowledge of the beauty of their own country , how can they promote their country to the world around? Or probably at least just to their fans?
Traveling overseas or to the neighbouring countries seems to be on demand as an option to spend holidays. But this should not be the reason to justify the ignorance of their country’s beauty.
Provide youth with sufficient knowledge of the country’s assets. In this way, the young generation are de facto take roles as tourism ambassadors. Through informal conversations in this global social media era, the youth can put in any conversations around tourism. In the long run, there will be many more tourists come to visit as the result of the growing curiosity.
To bring this into reality, education plays an essential role. Raising an awareness of the country’s assets among youth can be done through establishing and modifying the content of Indonesian Studies subject.
Referring to its name, in Indonesian studies students are not only learning Bahasa Indonesia, but they are also learning about Indonesian history, arts, cultures and tourism.
The teaching methodology is as important as the content. Teaching history, for an example. Instead of giving students assignments to read or memorize names and any facts about kingdoms that ever existed in Indonesia, it would be more meaningful if the students are asked to do research on historical tourism across Indonesia. At the end, they could do presentation to promote those historical places to a wide range of audience .
While in arts, cultures and tourism, teachers can do likewise. Have students do researches about cultural diversity or about tourism destinations from Sabang to Merauke. Then challenge the students to find ways to share what they know.
How can we instill a love and pride to homeland to youth if they do not know where Bromo or Lake Toba is located. Or how they would conserve and continue our traditions and cultures if they never knew any traditional ceremonies such as bull racing in Madura, Kasada at Mount Bromo, Bau Nyale in Lombok , Tiwah ceremony by Dayak tribe in Central Kalimantan or Pasola Sumba in Sumba and many other traditions and cultures which is said to reach hundreds of them? Who will preserve these traditions and cultures if our young generations seem to be indifferent?
Should we wait until many more traditions and cultures seized and acknowledged by our neighbouring countries? It is enough as it had happened with Pendet traditional dance, Barong Dance, some traditional songs and even almost happened to batik, the high artistic craft which is inherited from generation to generation in many parts of Indonesia.
As a matter of fact, both youth and cultures are two big assets of a country.
The third asset is language, Bahasa Indonesia.
People say language Is an identity. What a nation without languages?
Bahasa Indonesia is a compulsory subject in schools. Indeed, it is true. But ironically, more and more public places or entertainments in all aspects of life are labeled in foreign languages. Name some of them; Mall, Giant, Town Square, fitness centre, ATM and many others. While on TV some programs are labeled as Morning News, Prime Time, Breaking News, Midnight Show, You Keep Smile, and many others.
What kind of message are we sending to our youth and society through this naming pattern? A message of proudly speaking Indonesian? Quite the opposite, right?
Yet there are historical evidences show that Bahasa Indonesia has become a unifying language of the country with the fourth largest population in the world.
Youth, Culture and language are the three main pillars of a nation, one of which could not have survived without the support of the other two. Youth without a pride in culture and language of their nation will just lead to the destruction of the nation’s heritages. On the other hand, cultures without youth and language that can spread and communicate the messages will also gradually be endangered. A condition that we would never expect, off course.
O youth! The future of this country is in your hands. Resonate the spirit of Unity in Diversity in each corner of the world. Arise! Come to the front! Make a difference!
“The destiny of any nation, at any given time, depends on the opinions of its young men … “ — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.