Youth Community Media Project
The power of the arts and humanities is universal. The sound of children’s voices raised in song, the excitement on their faces while performing on a stage, the pride in their eyes as they show a mural they painted for their community—these moments have the ability to connect people across boundaries of language or country. For this reason, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award also highlights the importance of arts and humanities learning across the globe, presenting one extraordinary program from another country each year with our International Spotlight Award. This year, we are proud to present that award to Kampung Halaman, a program from The Republic of Indonesia that inspires young people to tell their own stories through media arts.
Indonesia is a nation of more than 17,000 islands. Its population, which exceeds 240 million, speaks more than 700 languages and dialects. Diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds come together in Indonesia’s motto, “Unity in Diversity.” The country’s ancient cultural richness is reflected in arts and crafts, such as batik and puppetry; music, performed on gong-chimes, plus instruments made of bamboo and other indigenous materials; dance, including touring Balinese dance troupes; and literature.
We are grateful to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Asia Society for their assistance in selecting and supporting this year’s International Spotlight Award winner.
Television and film can exert powerful—and sometimes negative—influences on youth in developing nations, as the website of the nonprofit Indonesian media education organization Kampung Halaman points out. Because many audiovisual productions are created in other parts of the world by entities that have their own agendas, they can “encourage viewers to build dreams that are not realistic, distancing them from their actual environment, effacing their sensitivity and attachment to their own communities, and, in the end, rendering them powerless,” the organization asserts.
Founded by two anthropologists in 2006, Kampung Halaman seeks to address that concern by providing Indonesian young people, ages 13–25, with the skills and tools to produce their own videos about issues that are relevant to themselves and their communities and to use those productions to provoke discussion and promote social change. A recent Asia Society report quoted Kampung Halaman Co-Founder Zamzam Fauzanafi as explaining the group’s approach this way: “We don’t work with video, we work with people, and video helps us to facilitate the conversation and further spread the message to other communities.”
One way the organization achieves its goals is through Youth Media Community Labs, which it has established in a number of towns and cities across Indonesia. Along with imparting technical and artistic skills involved in video production, instructors encourage young filmmakers to see themselves as leaders and to recognize the powerful role that images and imagination can play in sowing the seeds of societal transformation. Participants have used video to explore such questions as the relevance of cultural and religious traditions to modern life, the roots of poverty, the treatment of youth offenders, the role of women, and the impact of natural disasters on communities.
Kampung Halaman also sponsors annual media training camps that bring together youth leaders from across the nation, holds networking forums for community video activists, and hosts a youth video blog and screening event. To gain wider audiences for locally produced videos, the organization has created a database of community productions, made select videos available via DVD and on its website, and helped establish digital video archives at public and university libraries.