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As the East Asian region is facing heating political and territorial disputes with a threat of open conflict always becoming a possibility, interaction to know each other and dialogue to foster better understanding among people in this part of the world are becoming more and more important.


Deeper understanding on culture, way of life and views among people of countries in the region will become key base that shape broader relations -- especially in economic, trade and political ties -- between countries in the region, and serve as building block to enhance atmosphere of dialogue and prevent conflicts from taking root.


This is the spirit the Muara Foundation brings when we initiated the ASEAN Literary Festival and now we, the Muara Foundation, has launched the ASEAN-Japan Residency Program as part of the 2016 ASEAN Literary Festival.

The program has begun calling for application since February 10, and until today we have received dozens of applicants from across ASEAN, Timor Leste and Japan.  



Fully Supported by the Japan Foundation, The ASEAN-Japan Residency Program is a week-long stay together program that gathers a writer from each of the 10 ASEAN nations and Timor Leste as well as two writers from Japan at Kampung Muara in South Jakarta one week before the ASEAN Literary Festival 2016, which will be held on May 5 to 8 in Jakarta. These writers will also continue to represent their countries to speak in the upcoming ASEAN Literary Festival right after the residency. 


During the residency, they will stay with residents of the neighborhood and share experience and skills with the residents and fellow writers and see the daily life and culture of Indonesians first hand. The programs will include:


1. Sharing Life

Each of the 12 writers will share what is like to live in their respective country, describing all about their nation’s culture, customs and habit.


2. Sharing Skills and Knowledge

-Writing Course: Each of the writers will have a class on writing with residents

-Dancing and Singing Exchanges: Residents and writers will exchange dances and songs to each other

-Computer and Other Classes: The writers can share any other skills and knowledge they have to other writers and residents.


3. Environment

There will programs specifically involving writers and residents to address the condition of the Kampung’s environment, including helping cleaning the Ciliwung River, which run through the area.


4. Enjoy Jakarta

Writers will also tour cultural sites and traditional places of Jakarta



While ASEAN leaders have declared an ASEAN Economic Community in December last year, we notice that citizens of ASEAN members don’t know each other, especially in culture and literature. If we don’t know each other then how can we become a community? The leaders’ declaration becomes just rhetoric unless we pursue an effort to make us familiar with each other. This residency program is a small attempt to make ASEAN people become closer together and hopefully will know each other better. This way, the so-called ASEAN Community will not become a gimmick, lip service or hollow words.



The program in Kampung Muara in Jakarta can serve as a pilot project, and can be developed in other cities in ASEAN countries and Japan in the upcoming years.



Kampung Muara is a residential area in Tanjung Barat, Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, Indonesia. The area lies along Ciliwung River and has population of around 500 families. The area is still inhabited by many native Jakartans (ethnic of Betawi), and live peacefully along with people from many other ethnics from across Indonesia. The Kampung very much represents real-life Jakarta and Indonesia as a whole where traditional values of Islam and ethnicity meet with modernity. 



Ikhsan, project officer, (081317212838)


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