My name is Jusuf, or commonly called Ucup. In this article, I will share my experience in joining the Liberal Arts of ASEAN Seeds Camp III, 9-14 January 2017 organized by Thammasat University in Rangsit, Thailand.
The event was held for six days in several cities, such as Rangsit, Ayuthaya, Kumphaeng Phet, and Sukhothai. There we visited the tourist areas and crafts. While in Sukhothai, we visited Ram Kamhaeng Museum, Sukhothai Historical Park, Sukhothai Airport, Haad Siew traditional weaving industry, and Sukhothai clay craft center. The schedule of activities was quite compact. Every day, the event started at 6:00 am and ended at 8:00 pm, except at a certain time when we were discharged early because we had to move on to the city.
All participants were divided into five groups, and each group was required to create a project to be presented on the last day of the camp. The projects presented would then be assessed and ranked by the committee. The theme of the project should be in accordance with the theme of the program, namely Promoting Thai Wisdom; efforts to promote the culture and wisdom of the Thai tradition and related to the various activities that participants had followed from the first day.
Inspired by the cultural heritage of Thai culture, my group decided to make Sukho Ruin Lamp, a lamp made of ceramic fragments. For us, the project was interesting because the product doesn’t only met the needs of consumers, but also utilizes the unused goods and promotes the cultural identity of Thailand. In addition, we added other products to support sales of such lamps, such as scented candles and perfume. We also included the business design of the product, related to the recommended selling price, sales tactics, and where this product would be marketed.
Although our group did not get the first rank, but we were all still happy. I had a variety of valuable experiences. The opportunity to meet friends from different countries, especially ASEAN countries, had opened my eyes to the diversity of cultures, traditions, beliefs and languages. I also gained experience working in a multicultural group. In this collaboration we were encouraged to study, communicate, and make decisions in diverse cultural contexts.
Although it was not easy, but I felt there was an important concept, namely understanding. In one seminar with Cross Culture theme, the concept of understanding was described as a fundamental concept to understand the existence of a ‘cultural barrier’ in the process of different cultural interactions, so that interaction could provide a solution to the problems at hand and this did not lead to a conflict. One example I experienced there was the difference in language, which became one of the inhibiting factors in communicating. However, understanding that we were in a different cultural context became the key to interaction. If any participant did not understand, he or she could request re-elucidation without any objections. Such deep insight became the key to a diverse intercultural interaction.
There were several things I noted during the visit of this program. First, I realized that the Thai government greatly appreciated their cultural heritage. This could be seen from various archaeological sites that were managed and well maintained. For example, the museum implemented strict rules and a number of staff escorted us when visiting there. In addition, these artifacts were arranged in such a way that looked interesting. This could be an example for the Indonesian government in maintaining various historical relics, given that Indonesia has a lot of valuable historical heritage for Indonesia and the world. Such as Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple, Mendhut Temple, and others.
Secondly, I also saw how the efforts of Thammasat University, or Thailand in facing globalization in the context of the ASEAN Economic Community (MEA). For me, this program showed Thailand’s readiness in preparing their generation to welcome the ASEAN Economic Community. The presence of the ASEAN Studies department at Thammassat University also showed their seriousness in preparing themselves in the community of ASEAN. The existence of the ASEAN Seeds Campaign Liberal Arts program could be seen as the business of Thammasat and Thailand universities to promote Thai tourism, where we as participants were required to generate new potential ideas that could be developed as an effort to develop Thai tourism products in the future. Surely this needed to be a reflective record for all of us. In today’s era of globalization, Thailand reminds us of the need to prepare in the MEA competition marketplace. I suppose this could be an example for us together in preparing for the future.
Kob Khun Khrab!
This article was written by Jusuf Ariz Wahyuono