People Innovation Excellence

My Days as Volunteer at The Ubud Writer’s festival

Greetings from Bali:)

Thanks to my friends and Ms. Novenia who promoted this event, recently, I volunteered in Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 (UWRF 2013)- Through Darkness to Light.  So, months before the events I went to the site and applied to volunteer.   It was held in Ubud, organized by Mudra Swari Saraswati Foundation. I thought what’d possibly go wrong? It’s a book fest, lots of bules and Indonesians gonna be there. They will sell books, talk about books, meet people who wrote the books. Hence, I took a day off, flew to Bali.

Writers' Panel Discussion
Writers’ Panel Discussion

 To be honest, I don’t write, let alone read so much. Just not that interested, due to the nerdy image of writers. In fact they’re NOT. On that festival I got to watch many dedicated people from various professions around the world sharing their experiences. There were  around hundreds of people joining the festival that I can’t name one by one. In the 4- day- the festival, we had around 6 sessions in 3 main venues in which the panelist discussed various range of topics. Apart from the literature discussion, they talked about humanities, feminism, art, health, and even, cooking. Not to mention the workshops, fringe events, book launch, and PARTIES being held in 50 venues across Ubud.  Some familiar faces such as Dewi Lestari, Farah Quinn, Ernest Prakasa, Garin Nugroho, Trinity (Naked Traveler) and Ahmad Fuadi (Negeri 5 Menara) also appeared in the panel.   Through writing they documented their works and experiences which help the community to be better.


Dewi Lestari among the other writers
Dewi Lestari among the other writers

One of the sessions— featured Lydia Cacho, a Mexican journalist who was tortured and put in prison for exposing politician that involved in international human trafficking. Then on the other, we had Robin Lim, a midwife who founded Bumi Sehat, actively concerns about women-reproduction care in Indonesia-especially Bali. Dede Oetomo and Olin Monteiro discussed about gender equality including the LGBT. Then,  Kamila Andini, the filmmaker of “The Mirror Never Lies” also share her opinion about the role of mothers in other sessions. Feminist, activist, doctors, traveler who have seen the world told their stories. These are not just some lucky daydreamer who spent their time wake up, go to warteg, have a nap and write something. Wait, that was me. These are inspiring people who have more experience than us, sharing their valuable stories.


With Trinity, author of "The Naked Traveler" on English edition  book launch.
With Trinity, author of “The Naked Traveler” on English edition book launch.

I never thought literature festival would have been awesome. I thought Literature world was  hopeless branch that people no longer care. Like people have this belief that other majors are better than ours. Sure. But after the festival, I can conclude that we’re, English Department actually the part of knowledge-sharing industry and communication in which people still needed to help them share the stories.  Literature is not some kind of meaningless paper. The difference between us and the bules is that they can communicate their thoughts better. They figure out something, neatly record and organize it, and engagingly share it to the readers. It’s like talking to a friend; they tell stories. I believe Indonesians are equally experienced and educated. But very few people can convey amazing ideas through fun ways. Well, not everyone able to understand scientific journal, but everyone has the right to gain knowledge, right?


Volunteer card
Volunteer card

As in Ubud, God. Ubud. The place is so cool. I do miss the paddy field and the ambiance so much. It’s the contrary of hot and jammed Jakarta. Go watch Eat Pray Love.  The people (tourists and the natives) are so friendly. You can talk with someone next to you and you just make yourself a friend. As long as you’re sincere, no matter how awful is your grammar or pronunciation, they will understand.

Closing night at Blanco museum
Closing night at Blanco museum

It’s a good investment for language students like us to gain an experience by being  involved in English speaking environment. Whether its student exchange, festivals, competitions or HIMSI events or Journalism Club :).


Kartika Rachma is a student of English department who took the opportunity of volunteering as MC in Ubud Writer International Festival in Bali. We strongly support our students to join this kind of activity to enrich their experiences and perspectives.

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