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IGF 2018 VOLUNTEERS: YOUNG AND CARING

Nicknamed “the looking down generation” because of their attachment to gadgets at all times and places, the milllenial generation is often considered to be only concerned with what is currently happening in the social media, and they are unaware of their surroundings, even people who are physically close. The assumption is not entirely true, especially in light of their enthusiasm for volunteer work. IGF 2018 taps into their youthful enthusiasm.

The International Gamelan Festival 2018 (IGF 2018), an event in the Indonesiana platform, is one of the largest gamelan festivals in the world. Entitled “Homecoming”, the event welcomes gamelan players all over Indonesia and the world. These include 19 gamelan troupes from various countries, 40 from all over Indonesia, and 73 from Surakarta and surrounding areas. For eight days they all would gather at Solo and celebrate the festival. Rahayu Supanggah, the festival’s director, said that over 3.700 people would be involved in the event, which will be held not just in Solo, but also other places such as Wonogiri, Kartasura, Boyolali, and Blora.

To run an event of this stature, volunteers are needed. Those interested in volunteer work consider it a good opportunity for networking as well as gaining skills and experience.

Lushiana Primasari took a deep breath and tried to hold back emotions whenever she is asked to tak about her “children”. In IGF 2018, Lushiana is the volunteer coordinator, adoringly called “Mother” by the young volunteers. “The energy of these volunteer kids made me optimistic ... they turned out to care so much about their culture,” Luciana said during an interview between sessions at Fort Vastenburg. “When asked about gamelan, what it means to them ... one or two answered resolutely, ‘gamelan is my way of life’. They’re not even from artist families,” she continued.

The city of Solo often held cultural events, Lushiana said. The weekly agenda is chock-full of those. Solo’s young culture-lovers had plenty of opportunity to be involved as volunteers. Such is their numbers and enthusiasm that some even founded volunteer communities.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that Lushiana had no difficulties recruiting volunteers for IGF 2018. “When the general recruitment is opened, in a short time 240 people signed up.” They were of all ages and walks of life: workers, students, some are still in high school. About 130 got recruited as volunteers.

Not Just a Hard Work

For something of this scale, Lushiana, who had been a volunteer coordinator for three previous events, was very careful in the selection process. “First, they have to be cultural enthusiasts. Second, commitment. No age limits, and experience is not necessary,” she explained the selection criteria. Those who were not chosen were predictably disappointed. “One that did not make it even said, ‘Please take me in, I’ll do anything, even sweep the place clean, Ma’am,’” Lushiana said, “But I don’t want them to just do some hard work. I want them to get something valuable. If they’re liaison officers, they should have dreams like the talent they liaise, by watching rehearsals and tending daily needs. They also must learn to create networks.”

That is why Lushiana had to be really selective in deciding who liaises which talent, because she wanted more than just a fleeting encounter. “I wanted something more long-lasting, if possible. And I am glad that some past volunteers had said to me that they became successful because they got recommendations from the talent they liaised before,” Lushiana said.

Coaching

Resti Noelya, a social media volunteer, shared her experience of the volunteer coaching process in IGF 2018. After getting accepted, she and others gathered at the Vice-mayor’s house for a guidance session, to familiarize them with the vision and service standards. It was given by the local organizers in coordination with Indonesiana.

Resti, a Performance Arts student at ISI Yogyakarta, said that the organizers had been very helpful to the volunteers in administration matters. “The volunteers come from various backgrounds. If we need confirmation letters for office or school, the organizers provided them.” Resti coordinated with her group leader as well as “Mother” through a WhatsApp group.

IGF 2018 is Resti’s first volunteer experience. When she knew that there would ba a major performance arts event in Solo, she immediately applied. Resti saw Solo as the mecca of performance arts, and the event would be world-class.

Not every volunteer came from arts and culture backgrounds though. Lushiana herself is a lecturer of Penal Law in the Faculty of Law, Universitas Negeri Sebelas Maret. She is passionate about cultural events, and IGF is a “homecoming” for her too. Lushiana felt she could return to her school days, when she was familiar with the karawitan and gamelan. “Seeing the talents play gamelan made me want to join them in performance,” she admitted. That is why she considered being a volunteer is addictive; Resti agrees. After IGF 2018, Resti would enlist as a volunteer again in future opportunities.

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