Thursday, September 20, 2007

Excerpt from Ms. Damai's Reflection

As a former student activist, I am so impressed and enlightened through the process of learning in Folk School. My knowledge about Korea was so limited through reading and having some activist friends like Wardah Hafidz and my own sister[1] who had gone to Korea for attending the workshop/conference/training. Through this program, I got abundance of knowledge and experience to learn directly from the subjects of the making of democracy in Korea with its dynamic process. Besides that, I learned about history, social movement, narration of democracy process with sacrifices, bitterness, violence, romance and success stories through visiting the places and watching the films, listening to the lecture and discussion with activists, staffs of the institutions, scholars, and artists.

From the other participants too, I learned a lot from them, what and how the human rights situations in their own countries are directly from the subject. I believe that learning is more effective through experience and I get this through this Folk School. Honestly. I just know about Iron Sharmila and the situation in North East India here in Gwangju. I am thankful for this opportunity.

The visits to art gallery, museum, folk village in Nagan, bay in Suncheon, gave me portrays of development of civilizations of Korea society which blended from China, Buddhism - Zen and from Korea itself.

Visits to Seoul and Busan for two days provided me with the comparisons of activities of the organizations of Korea Democracy Foundation, National Human Rights Commission and Pusan Democratic Movement Memorial Association and the similar organizations in my own countries. From this experience, I need to look back to my own country that there are many things to be done and struggled for. The his and herstory in my country is still own by the powerful one, the pro democracy movement story are still in the books and newspapers but not preserved and retelling like in Pusan Democratic Movement or Mangwoldong cemetery. We do not have the documentation like Korea Democracy Foundation. The problem is the change is still very partial in Indonesia, even the president is still the retired general who do not want the structural change.

Other thing, I get inspiration about the many types of discrimination from National Human Rights Commission – about 20 types of discrimination including the sexual orientation, political beliefs and the Commissioner person with disability. Although, I’m feel so sorry when saw the reaction when talking about the third sex without respect to them. We still need to struggle from inner-self to become really human rights defender.

Most of the stories and portrays of the movements are still dominated by history. It is not only in Korea also in Indonesia and every where. We supposed to get the lecture on Women’s Right in Korea but due to the language problem we did not a chance to learn on this important subject. Although for the senior participants, I got the chance to meet the women activists who gave me the confirmation that there is a need to rewrite the story of Gwangju from the women experience too, that women have diverse and important role in May 18 in Gwanju. From other visits and reading the articles on women and labour movement, I learned also that women have important role in labour movement. However most of the democracy heroes are still dominated by men, hope there will be the efforts to make balance the stories from women perspectives.

Organisation of May 18, Thank you for your deep understanding and a lot of efforts and big patience to face these uniqueness of each of us with different personality and tastes and diets due to the religions and personalities. When Chan Ho and Chris cooked for all the participants in Silverpension house, it was a best practices and a deep learning process for me that as the leader we need to serve and give the example. For Mr Chan Ho, who try to listen and take seriously the participants needs. So grateful for Thency (for sharing bahasa and gender concerns) and Tummy who help me for many things and bring my heavy things. For Pete who gave me the suggestions about the context, and for Lynn who also happy to accompany and help me with the translation. Of course for Chris who make me enjoy with his laughing and joking as well as driving too.


Again and again thank you for this chance and I am so grateful for these enlighten learning process here and thank you for endless help what you have done to me. Finally, the sauna bath is really an unforgettable experience where I can be my self without any shame as the human being and acceptance as who am I.

[1] She came to Korea in 1988 for arts and people workshop to accompany Wiji Thukul (a poet, worker and activist who is dissapearred since 1998). She came again last December as the politician invited by Korean government and met the President through the Young Asian Leaders.


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