On Saturday and Sunday (28-29 November 2020), RMI held a leadership training in the Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih Indigenous People area, Sindanglaya Village, Sobang District, Lebak Regency, Banten Province. A total of 27 participants, consisting of 11 young women and 16 young men, learned together and linked it to a program that is being carried out in the location, namely planning edu-ecotourism.
The training was attended by KOMPAK Pasir Eurih (Komunitas Pemuda Adat Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih), and by groups outside the Kasepuhan area, such as Pokdarwis (Kelompok Sadar Wisata) from Ciwaluh Village and Relawan4Life. KOMPAK and Pokdarwis have experience in managing ecotourism programs while Relawan4Life has experience in managing environmental education activities. By joining these groups together in this training, the goal is that the learning process will be cross-grouped. This learning concept is often termed by RMI as a campus-village-community learning concept.
Evaluation and Gaining Inspiration
On the first day, the participants conducted an evaluation of the KOMPAK Follow-up Plan. This session was facilitated by Indra N.H. (from RMI) and participants from outside KOMPAK were asked to play the role of “investigators” to get as much information as possible about KOMPAK’s activities. This activity was arranged so that participants from Relawan4Life and Pokdarwis were informed of some of the plans that were made in advance.
The plans that have been made include: (1) Extracting data and documenting local knowledge, (2) Finding out and documenting local food, (3) Improvement of trekking paths, and (4) Extracting data and documenting medicinal plants. In order to discuss these plans, groups were formed based on the 4 themes above. The groups then discuss and present the results. Presentations made by participants outside KOMPAK. Discussions and presentations were conducted aimed at observing progress and obstacles in each activity, as well as to equate participants’ knowledge of the programs being compiled by KOMPAK.
In the afternoon and evening, it is Pokdarwis’ turn to share stories in developing an edu-ecotourism program at the foot of Mount Gede Pangrango. This session was made to resemble a talk show where Novia F. (from RMI) acted as the host of the event. A representative from Pokdarwis shared about the activities of the youth in Ciwaluh Village who has been active in organisations since 2009 until finally decided to develop village tourism. The focus of their story is not only on the success of getting additional income from nature tourism activities, but also on the challenges they have faced or are still facing today.
These challenges, for example, are in the form of changes in organizational formation, the need for regeneration in groups, the participation of young people and women, competition with groups outside the village in developing tourism, conflicts with national park managers for tourist sites and arable land, and plans to develop tourism without the assistance of village funds. Participants from Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih also did a lot of question and answer with Pokdarwis, especially about how to build edu-ecotourism independently.
During the session, input from participants outside KOMPAK (Pokdarwis and Relawan4Life) was felt to be of benefit to KOMPAK. “We are convinced that what we have here can be developed and we have to do it,” said Maman Syahroni, a participant from KOMPAK.
Relawan4Life for example, expressed opinion that Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih is rich in traditional knowledge, culture and local wisdom. They argue that it is this strength that needs to be put forward in carrying out the edu-ecotourism program. For them, listening to stories about 40 local rice varieties in Kasepuhan or how the Kasepuhan people store rice in leuit (traditional rice barn), which can still be eaten 20 years old later is very “wow.”
“It is very interesting, if the culture here is developed into edu-ecotourism,” said Nuri Ikhwana, a participant from Relawan4Life who is also a student from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB). This statement was confirmed by her other two friends.
For KOMPAK, inputs from groups outside their village helped them in making strategic decisions and is useful in the development of the edu-ecotourism program that is being developed.
That day’s program was concluded with a light discussion about KOMPAK programs that need to be completed or revised. In a chat conducted, it was agreed that the next day’s training will be carried out later in the day because there are a lot of people who do menandur (planting rice in reverse), as the activities carried out by the pare gede farmers that follow tatali paranti karuhun (Kasepuhan customs).
For Pokdarwis and Relawan4Life, night time is used to evaluate the journey and the learning process. Each group shared their experiences and lessons learned in participating in the training or mingling with the community in the village. They said that living and interacting with the Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih Indigenous People made them learn a lot about the local wisdom of the community. Some of the words they considered to have just been discussed that night were pare gede (big rice), leuit (traditional rice barn), rukun tujuh (the stages of farming that follow customs), Kasepuhan (the name of indigenous groups in Banten and West Java), and others.
Organizational Principles and Cultural Documentation
The second day of training started at 10:00 am. It begins with playing a Zombie game for a team building process which can also be reflected on issues of leadership, personal initiative, and discipline. This game is also an opening activity for discussing leadership at the organizational level.
The next session is a session designed to provide knowledge and encouragement for participants to campaign for local culture using smartphones and the internet. The session entitled “Cultural Documentation and Campaigns to Build the Identity of Indigenous Peoples” was delivered online by Karlina Octaviany, a digital anthropologist and digital communication strategy specialist. Karlina said that if technological progress is not addressed wisely, it can damage the local wisdom of indigenous peoples.
“Together, the community must be aware that all things can have a bad impact, including the use of the internet. Now that is what we need to discuss and agreed on according to local custom. To what extent is the use of the internet become worrying and how to prevent it,” explained Karlina.
This session reminded Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih Indigenous Peoples that in the midst of an increasingly digitalized world, the internet and technological advances must be positioned as tools to empower communities and strengthen indigenous traditions. On this occasion the participants also asked about the technicalities of using smartphones and social media to reach the wider community and spread information about Kasepuhan customs.
After lunch session, the leadership training activity was continued with organizational material mixed in the form of the Toxic Swamp game. In this game all participants are asked to compete, cooperate, achieve game targets as well as strategize. This game lasts for about two hours and is carried out under a light rain. However, despite the rain, the participants maintained their enthusiasm for completing the game, just as they did back then, cooperate, be consistent, be creative and learn from mistakes to achieve short-term goals. The conditions and other obstacles in the game are indeed conditioned to generate reflections related to the program that is currently working on KOMPAK.
Even though the game of Toxic Swamp was quite tiring, the participants were still quite enthusiastic about participating in the last session, namely the deepening of organizational material associated with the Toxic Swamp game. This session is the final session as well as the closing of the activity. In this last session, the participants were asked to speak to express their opinions about the improvements that need to be done to achieve short-term and long-term targets in the edu-ecotourism program. By relating it to events that occur in the game, participants find it easier to see the connection between the parts in the organization.
The final step of the training is to draw up an agreement to finalize the details of the work including the team, time and how to do it. RMI community organizer, Fauzan A. who accompanied the Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih Indigenous People stated that the revised follow up plan would be carried out again after the training, involving Marja as the KOMPAK coach. He himself admitted that he was happy with the Leadership Training activities that brought groups from outside the Kasepuhan area.
“We like to be visited by friends from outside. But here is what it is,” said Marja, a village elder as well as a KOMPAK coach. He hopes that the deadlocks that occur when thinking ‘alone’ can be resolved by having new friends.
Lessons learned by the three groups involved in this leadership training may vary for each group. However, small steps are always required to reach distant goals, as depicted in the game and in the post-game reflection discussions.
This Leadership Training activity is part of the ‘Being and Becoming Indigenous’ platform – a learning platform with indigenous youths which is held in three indigenous communities in two countries, namely Kasepuhan Pasir Eurih and Mollo in Indonesia (RMI and Lakoat Kujawas ) and Dumagat-Remontado in the Philippines (AFA and PAKISAMA).
Author: Indra N. Hatasura
Translated by: Alfina Khairunnisa