Bandung, October 2023

The end of 2023 gets closer.  I am thankful for the health, safety, and opportunities that I have this year. 

The year started with good walks to the countryside of Austria. I had to thank my Austrian friends who introduced me to the beauty of nature, the farming life, and also the rich culture of a big city like Vienna. I fell in love with the philosophy of the architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser: inspired by and back to nature. 

In the spring, I had to thank my senior, Donovan Rypkema,  who introduced me to his heritage networks and works around Washington DC. I learned a lot about revitalization of the historical districts of the city.  

I continued my journey with the train adventures following the history of the Dutch along the Hudson River until the border of  Canada.

The experience with WWOOF USA impressed me. I think I will do it again, in another country next year. Staying in new surroundings with new people delivered fresh insights about life, and also new challenges for myself. 

This year was also marked with presentations and exhibitions about Indonesia in the Netherlands and abroad that brought me new contacts and activities. I delivered presentations about Water, Culture, and Heritage twice, in New York, and in Amsterdam. My presentation about the heritage building of Medan in Bronbeek was also hilarious because I received so many reactions. The exhibition about the influence of Indonesia on the Amsterdams School architecture style in Museum het Schip was an example of great teamwork between the Netherlands and Indonesia, and a showcase how the close historical ties between the two countries. 

I contributed also to the exhibition that is still on in the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam titled the Great Indonesia Exhibition. I took part in an audio stop about Trade and Violence. But I didn't talk about the violence at all, on the contrary, I spoke about the shared heritage between Indonesia and the Netherlands by giving an example of the initiative of the Indonesian Government to restore the Fort of Johannes van den Bosch in Ngawi, East Java. He was the initiator of the Colony of Benevolence in the Netherlands ( a poverty eradication program in the past), while in Indonesia he was the initiator of forced labor. Nevertheless, one person with two roles in two parts of the world. How interesting the history is.

The projects of Historical Urban Landscape (HUL) and the museum training are continued this year. in May we had the HUL workshop in Medan, and in October we had two museum training in Yogyakarta and Jakarta. It is great to be able to run multi-year projects like these. They ensure the continuation of the vision and measurable goals.

In the summer, I started my endeavor to learn about the heritage and hospitality industry by working part-time  in a hotel chain that reused old structures in Amsterdam. There is an extra dimension to this job, some of my colleagues are refugees from Ukraine. The trigger to do this job is my contact with Doah Eain and Heritage Homes in Asia who transform heritage houses into homestays. It might be something good for Indonesia, too. 

My endeavor about colonial collections this year is limited to my function as one of the members of the International Advisory Board of Pressing Matters, a 4 years research project. Borrowing the explanation of the project, in short, Pressing Matter investigates the potentialities of ‘colonial objects’ to support societal reconciliation with the colonial past and its afterlives, and to deal with conflicting claims by different stakeholders for these objects within museums. The project will develop and test new modes and models of ownership, value, and return that may enable more equitable futures.

Last but not least, together with my network in Sumatra we managed to survive for 25 years now. The network, Pansumnet, was established in 1998. We manage to keep online monthly discussions continuously and might come the time to meet offline again in 2024. This network by, for, and about heritage movements in Sumatra. It is one of my exercises to have a long breath to fight for something I believe is good for society. 

I had an insightful field visit to Palembang to observe heritage movements there. Impressive to see how communities find their ways to save what they feel as their heritage. 

We also sent one of the members to Chile this year to represent Indonesia in an international industrial heritage event. 

I will close this year as I started it, too:  with hopes and wishes, first of all, for health, safety, and opportunities. 


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