Asia West Pacific

Finding Common Ground: Teen (Re)aksi in Garut, Indonesia

By Rhaka Katresna and Sapitri Sri Mustari, edited by Kins Aparece

Teens gather at (Re)aksi Remaja Garut, West Java, Indonesia, Photo by Team Remaja Garut

Indonesian note: “Teen (Re)aksi” comes from the English aksi (action) meaning “direct action”; and reaksi (reaction) meaning “response”, hence the play on words “Teen (Response) Direct Action”

Garut teenagers have a stigma of being unreliable when it comes to solving social issues. So, I first worked on re-building my own trust in them. I chose to rely on them entirely, like I never heard about the stigma. It worked! The group crafted a community plan and also a business plan for social entrepreneurship.

After the 7th International Peace Training, I held my first Cultures of Peace activity on Saturday, 2nd February 2020, at the Mekarjaya Preschool in Garut, West Java, Indonesia, with nine teenagers from the high school and vocational school (15-17 years old). Our theme was “search for common ground.” I shared the tools from Creating Cultures of Peace to help them find common ground and resolve community issues.

I was surprised that teenagers faced alcoholism. The problem is widespread, and they don’t get any proper guidance except blame and punishment. Drunken youth are on our streets nightly. For their community plan, they did not hold back. They decided to take it seriously, to create a community, conduct programs on alcoholism awareness, build support groups, collaborate with school kids to prevent them from dropping out or expulsion; and, find support from related institutions.

Their business plan for their community and social enterprise include books and workshops for kids with NoLife (nolep, as they called it in Sundanese) lifestyle, literally a “lifestyle brand” sold to people who “don’t take themselves too seriously.” The books and seminars are designed to be bought by the NoLife lifestyle teenage community so they can step out from nolep lifestyle.

The participants found common ground and were capable of choosing a prevalent social issue and planning strategies to address it. The AVP tools made them listen to each other and create a space to talk about the problems openly. The agenda crafted was so helpful.

Sapitri, one of the participants, commented that she was impressed with the process of the activity. She had learned new things, expanded her knowledge, got a new way of thinking which is much more positive, and finally found new friends who had a common concern for society.

Below is the agenda for the activity:
  1. Opening: introducing name, address, school, and why you are here…
  2. Agenda
  3. Name and Affirmation Name
  4. Drawing Core Self
  5. Play: Big Wind Blows
  6. Break
  7. A good listener and a good companion
  8. Group Discussion: Teenage Youth Issues in Garut
  9. Play: Magnet
  10. Reflection
  11. Closing

  • Listen to all the issues of teenage youth in Garut
  • Pick one and ask why it happened
  • What can you do to solve it?
  • How can teenagers solve it together?
  • Analyze the weakness and boundary on doing that solution, and how do you solve them.

Finding Common ground in Garut West Java, Indonesia, Photo by Rhaka