Friday, April 17, 2009

Students hold arts festival to celebrate difference, learn respect for other

Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:49 AM

Several students of Diponegoro School perform a recital with angklung (a traditional musical instrument) at an arts festival in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, to commemorate World Peace Day, which fell on Jan. 1.

The festival - One World, One Dream for Peace Through Culture - aims to raise awareness among the students that peace can be obtained through cultural exchange, tolerance and understanding.

Besides the angklung recital and a gamelan recital by students from Central Java, there was a showcase of traditional dances from different areas across the archipelago.

The Saman dance from Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the Piring from Padang, West Sumatra, and the Rampak Gendang from West Java were among the dances performed by students at the two-hour event.

"Difference should not be a reason for war or conflict," Mazarina, a student, told The Jakarta Post.

"Instead people should learn from each other's views."

But, she said, the principles of tolerance was easier said than done.

"Even in my everyday life, I find it difficult to practise such a noble principle," she said.

"As humans, we all have our own emotions and sentiments.

"Personally, I find it hard to like Israel after what their military has done to Palestine," she said, referring to the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

"I know that not all Israelis are bad, but it is hard for me to like them after the attacks," she said.

Prior to the event, the students held a mass prayer for Palestinian victims. They also raised funds totaling Rp 50 million, to be donated to the victims through a humanitarian organization, Mer-C.

"Although my heart is with Palestine, I hope that both the Israeli and Palestinians leaders can put aside their differences," said another student. "After all, they were brothers and sisters for thousands of years before the land dispute of the 1960s."

Diponegoro School counselor Arief Rachman said the festival was held annually.

"Last year, we held a Wayang, or shadow puppet show, to commemorate World Peace Day," said Arief, who is known as an outspoken observer on education issues.

"Hopefully, the students will learn how to respect each other.

"The more we know about other cultures, the better we can understand and relate to each other." --- The Jakarta Post/hdt

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