Friday, November 17, 2017

Volunteering at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2017 (Part Two)

Read the previous article: Volunteering at Ubud Wrtiters & Readers Festival 2017 (Part One)

One boy read his writing to us and it was beautiful, a story with perfect 
details written in only 10 minutes

Tenzin Dickie's workshop with student from one of international school at Jakarta, 
learning about how to write a story
I am wearing dress (Unbranded), shoes (American Eagle from Payless), watch (Fossil)

At the same day with Leza Lowitz's workshop, in the morning before her turn, it was Tenzin Dickie who was in charge as the speaker. She is a writer and literary translator, born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India and then moved to America and studied at Harvard University and pursued her master at Columbia University. Her work that I knew is as the editor of Old Demons, New Deities: Twenty One Short Stories from Tibet, an English language anthology of Tibeatan fiction (available at Periplus). Her other work includes the editor at The Treasury of Lives, a biographical encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia, and The Himalaya. 

At her workshop, Dickie, as how she introduced herself to me and how she would like to be called, taught the children about the easy step to start their own writing. She introduced them the Freytag's Pyramid Climax, the easiest way to write the perfect story by starting it with exposition, then going up to the rising action and go straight to climax, after the climax of course there is a falling action and then a denouement. 5 easy key steps in writing a story. 

She started it by telling the children about her background, about how she started writing, and then challenging the children to try to write in ten minutes, the first challenge was the children had to write starting with the words "I remember". And the result is crazyyy. They wrote some very beautiful writings, some of them wrote a story with such beautiful and perfect details. Do you still not believe in the power of mind and words, now? 

Apart from her workshop, before it started, we had a little time to talk. The funny thing is I am planning on to go to Tibet next year and I could not believe it when my supervisor handled me the roster and I was being placed at this position to accompany Tenzin Dickie, who is a Tibetan refugee and so rich with knowledge about Tibet, speaking of learning about the country before going there right with the expert! Was it coincidence? Or was it the universe conspire to make that happened? Isn't life funny that way?

So we talked about the history and the current situations about Tibet, about Dalai Lama who is still in Tibetan settlement in Dharamsala, India until now, until what literatures should I read before going to Tibet which then she recommended this: The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes by Jamyang Norbu and A Home in Tibet by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa.

Ah there are so many things I would love to talk about her and this post would not be enough, anyway, it was sooo nice meeting you, Tenzin Dickie. Until another time! :)

"Passion for Fashion" workshop with Ani Himawati from Ubud Love Stories Market as the speaker,
the children learn how to make their DIY-shirt (Can you guess which child whom I helped sewing the "7" figure to his shirt is?)

My last work at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017 was helping Ani Himawati from Love Stories Market located at Jalan Goutama, Ubud giving workshop to the children about fashion. Love Stories Market is not just another fashion boutique, they commit to style, sustainability, and helping others. If you check their instagram HERE you will see much inspiring stories behind their business, like how the scarf they sell is woven by village artisans in Lombok and the cotton handkerchief is painted by pre school kids in order to support their school, isn't that a thoughtful little gesture you could always do in each and every of your day? Starting small and leave the universe to cause a greater impact? 

At her workshop Mba Ani taught the children that to be a fashionista they could do to 3 things:
  • A fashionista can have their own style. It is okay to express themselves and their own creativity. Mba Ani started the workshop by asking the children to form a circle and asked them to express theirselves by their own authentic move. And those children  happily expressed themselves by various fun and creative movement and dance!
  • They can be a fashionista and still contributes positively to the environment by creating zero waste, which was implemented by creating something new from fabric scraps. At this workshop they learned to design their shirt by sewing leftover fabrics from FeelGood batik pajamas. 
  • A good fashionista should not hurt the planet by using sustainable fabrics, like the organic shirt given by Love Stories Market to them in this workshop. 
After done with my MC job opening the workshop, I helped one of the children sewing leftover batik fabrics to his shirt. He wanted to sew a "7" figure to his shirt because it is his favorite footbal player's uniform number. Believe me, I do not good at sewing yet I have to help him haha, so our result was not perfect but the important thing here is to be creative and to be able to express ourselves, not to be perfect, right? Nevertheless, we were happy with our imperfect result!

If I could be a child again I would love to join this workshop at that very age like those childrens, hence my mind would be woken up early to be able to do something good to environment around me!

Me posing with my fellow volunteers from Children and Youth programs

     Janet DeNeefe, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival's founder, giving her speech at the closing party

Aya and Laras BTMDG performing at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017 closing night

We ended the festival with an afterparty which I sadly did not be able to come for I had to go to Seminyak at the time of the afterparty. Nevertheless, I came to the closing party held at Antonio Blanco Museum. There were some words from Janet DeNeefe and Mario Blanco to officialy close Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017 and some music and dance performances.

I said goodbye to my fellow volunteers and my volunteer's coordinator and hope that we will be able to meet  at next year's event and share this insanely satisfying experience, again. I thought having be able to tick this one of my bucketlists; volunteering at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, will be the wrapping to my dream, yet I just realised that it was just the beginning to another road I long to travel. To be a volunteer again next year, to meet more inspiring people, and to be the speaker at this kind of event one day, just, maybeee? :) 

"Older people think things can not change anymore because they have seen too much of life. But, it doesn't true. Things are constantly changing." - Tenzin Dickie, said at one of her session. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Volunteering at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2017 (Part One)

Drew Ambrose, an Al Jazeera journalist giving workshop at one of international school 
at Kerobokan, Bali about Story Telling

Last 25th-29th October 2017, I was volunteering at the 14th Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which is an annual festival on literature spanning from intimate lunches with writers and readers, workshops, mind blowing main sessions, until art exhibitions and stage performances. This year was my third time coming to this festival and from the first time I came there I have this bucket list that I have to be able to be a volunteer here. But, because of my previous hectic schedule, just got the chance to tick my bucket list this year, and I am beyond happy!

I submit my admission last minute and propose to be placed as a volunteer on international writers liaison or MC, but apparantely those positions are full, so then they offered me to be placed at Children and Youth Programs. Although I do not find my self attracted to children or youth, I said yes anyway because I know it will all be about educating our young generation, and I put so much interest in education. 

But, oh what a surprise, this humble position is just what I am actually looking for! I got the chance to accompanying the writers which gave workshops to children and young adults from some various school means I am working as their liaison, I get to see their mind blowing workshop, I get to see how interested these children and young adults in this kind of education, and I get to also be an MC sometimes, so this position is just a perfect package! 

Above I accompanied Drew Ambrose, currently works at Al Jazeera as their journalist, producing documentaries at their program 101 East, focusing on current affairs across Asia Pacific. At his workshop he wanted to show the student how journalism nowadays have shifted in this digital age, how people are no longer getting their news from the newspaper in the morning, but how nowadays they get it real quick, unschedule but always up to date, fresh from the onlinesphere ranging from twitter, podcast until youtube. 

He wanted to show the student how to make their own version of journalism, how to tell their story, how to make their story great by giving conflict into it. So at the beginning after giving some brain storming to this student by few questions about journalism, he played us his documentary at 101 East Al Jazeera about Mongolia's child jockey who risk death to do a horse race. Then he asked the student to analyze what conflicts are being shown from the video. 

I am amazed by how this 7th-8th grader students analyzed this documentary. They were so very enthusiastic in participating on the discussion and could analyze such detail conflicts, from how the horse race activity for such a young children is illegal and dangerous until how there is a conflict between this activity being an important culture but also in a modern way of thinking there is some disadvantages from this activity. And at the end of the workshop, some students approached Drew Ambrose to say thank you for such an interesting class and how they wanted to become a journalist. I do not think I ever saw my classmate that enthusiastic about any subject taught at our classroom! I do not think I ever saw my classmate love the classroom's activity at all. What is wrong here? The student? The classroom's activity? The system? Nevertheless, to make things better let's start with ourselves by doing the best we can do with what we have instead of looking for matters to be blamed, though. 

Leza Lowitz, author of Up From The Sea, a novel in verse about a Japanese boy survived the march 2011 Japan tsunami which devastates his village

The next day some students from an international school at Jakarta, came to Ubud to this workshop presented by Leza Lowitz. Yes, that's right, they flew all the way from Jakarta and spent a week at Ubud specifically to attend Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and some of its workshop, how fun is that! 

I helped Leza preparing her class, presentation, and taking pictures of them along the workshop. She is very humble and we talked a bit and she gave us, the volunteers, a little postcard she bought at Japan from mothers of autistic children who sold it in order to get fund for their children's therapy because in Japan this autism issue has not been widely recognized and supported. How considerate, right? What I love about her is her attention to details. While helping her preparing her presentation I know she wants the children to experience the workshop best so she make sure that everything is in order and could support her delivered the best presentation!

She presented to the children the background of her novel in verse, Up From The Sea; where her ideas came from, how she decided to make a novel in verse because she thinks that it would be the best form to easily be enjoyed by different kinds of people who some of them might not like to read a long long words of the usual novel, and told the story of people and places which inspired some of the verses.

It was magical.

If I were those children, I might be wanted to make a novel and be a writer immediately! 

Rondji Restaurant, the venue of Michael Vatikiotis' Book Launch with me as the MC

Yes, I get what I wished for at the beginning, to be an MC at one of the session. Some technical issue arised and we need an extra MC for this book launch and I happily said yes! I went to Rondji Restaurant with no expectation and was surprised by how beautiful the setting of this book launch here overlooking the busy activities down the street and the serene of Ubud's paddyfield in the horizon. 

This book launch was moderated by Rio Helmi, a well known photographer and writer, talking about Michael Vatikiotis' new book Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia, yes, a rather heavy material book. But despite how serious this book launch can be, the readers seem so very interested and ask a few intriguing questions and it became a mind blowing discussion with the writer. 

I am only here to open and close the book launch so it was only a small part in bringing this magic came to live, but it made me happy already, to be here, exchanging few words with this great writers, well maybe, maybe one day I can be the one sitting in the speaker's chair, maybe? :)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Despite, Beyond Without

Artwork by Komang Kartika Dewi shot at an Exhibition at Casa Luna Restaurant
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

I remember since I was little
My mother never told me
That to be able to live
I have to be perfect at
Being graceful without foul
Saying yes without yet
Nurture without failure


I remember since I was little
My mother always told me 
That to be able to live
I have to try my best at
Believe in the beauty 
Despite the adversity
Believe in the power of question
Despite the established statement
Believe in my intuitions
Despite the judgements

Then, who are you?
To come now
And tell me otherwise?