This year’s IACS participants consist of 45 persons from 34 countries, including member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific Oceania region.
While opening the program in Jakarta on Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said that IACS is an important program for promoting Indonesian arts and culture as well as introducing the nation’s diversity, the spirit of unity, and gotong royong or cooperation.
"Indonesia is a nation of more than 17 thousand islands and 300 ethnicities. However, we have turned our diversity into strength because we choose tolerance, not ignorance, and we strive for unity, not adversity," Marsudi added.
She said that participants will witness first-hand how the culture of gotong royong and diversity are embraced in every corner of the country.
The spirit of gotong royong also guides Indonesia's interactions with other countries and serves as a bridge-builder among nations and a consensus-maker, she said.
One of the IACS participants from China, Zhou Qingqing, said that she is interested in joining the program to improve her mastery of Bahasa Indonesia.
"I learn Indonesian at university so I decided to join this program because I love Indonesian culture. By joining this program, I hope I will understand more about the arts and culture of Indonesia," she said.
A participant from Malaysia, Syahira, said that she was amazed by the diversity of Indonesia and hence, she decided to register for the program.
"I really love arts and culture, and I love Indonesian culture. You have so many ethnicities, but you can be united in diversity. I really want to learn about Indonesia and go back to Malaysia so we can strengthen our unity as well," she added.
The Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship is a flagship program in public diplomacy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to promote Indonesia's arts and culture. Started in 2003, the scholarship has been awarded to 1,024 alumni from 83 countries.
The program provides a non-degree scholarship to the young generation to help them learn about the arts, culture, and local wisdom of Indonesia in person. This year, IACS is themed "Indonesia, Home of Diversity." Scholarship participants will take part in Indonesian arts and culture training for two months from June until August.
The awardees will be assigned to different art centers located in five provinces: Jakarta, Bali, West Sumatra, East Kalimantan, and East Java to allow them to experience the local heritage and interact with the local community.
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