Thursday, July 25, 2024 | 01:03 WIB

Winning Grand Champion in Georgia with the Al Izhar Junior-Senior High School Cultural Mission Team, Kalya Mahiya Invites the Young Generation to Love Indonesian Culture


Jakarta, IO – Outstanding! That’s the perfect word to describe the cultural mission group journey of the Al Izhar Pondok Labu Junior and Senior High Schools, Jakarta. Within 6 months, through 50 meetings and 150 hours of practice, the cultural mission group, consisting of 33 dancers and two musicians, successfully promoted Indonesian culture on the international stage, and won the Grand Champion title at the International Festival Contest 2024 in Batumi, Georgia.

The festival was attended by 30 groups from 17 countries in Europe and Asia, and by around 6,000 enthusiastic spectators. Students from Al Izhar Pondok Labu Junior and Senior High School (SMP-SMA) performed in the festival, captivating the people of Batumi and receiving enthusiastic support from the audience.

The dancers and musicians intensively practiced traditional Indonesian dances and music, including Tari Muda Mudi Papua, Ratoh Jaroe, Cerite Kite from Betawi, and Tari Piring, which was received as an outstanding performance by festivalgoers and judges.

In this cultural mission, SMP-SMA Al Izhar Pondok Labu Jakarta collaborated with Gema Citra Nusantara and the Kiny Cultura Indonesia Foundation, an organization dedicated to the development of culture and education in Indonesia.

kalya kiki sari
Kalya Mahiya Pravina, a tenth-grade student at Al Izhar Senior High School in Pondok Labu, with Kiki Puspita Sari, Director of Culture and Education at Kiny Cultura Indonesia. (Source: Special)

Independent Observer had the opportunity to meet with the cultural mission group upon their return to Jakarta, on Sunday, July 7, 2024. Kalya Mahiya Pravina, a tenth-grade student at SMA Al Izhar Pondok Labu, admitted that the Cerite Kite dance was the most challenging of all the dances they performed. “It’s not easy to build unity in that dance; it requires continuous practice. Endless rehearsals are needed to ensure that our hearts and energy unite and our movements are synchronized to create harmony in perfect rhythm,” explained Kalya.

As a Kiny Cultura Indonesia Ambassador, Kalya has competed in similar events six times, twice being on sites, including the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, United Kingdom, in 2019 and the International Contest Festival Batumi in Georgia in 2024.

Kalya admitted to feeling quite nervous when performing the medley and the Cerite Kite dances, making her strive more to give her best performance. “After being announced as the Grand Champion, all the long hardship was worth it,” said Kalya with a smile.

Kalya also encourages Indonesian youth to love their own culture. “I always hope that the younger generation will recognize their potential, pursue their talents, and never be afraid to dream,” she expressed.

Kalya Mahiya Pravina, a tenth-grade student at Al Izhar Senior High School in Pondok Labu. (Source: Special)

Alysha and Rania Lubis, both twelfth-grade students of Al Izhar Pondok Labu High School, felt very proud and happy to be involved in this prestigious event for the first time. Similarly, Kina, an eighth-grade student at Al Izhar Pondok Labu Junior High School, admitted to feeling nervous during the performance but yet managed to give her best performance.

“Hopefully, this Grand Champion title will motivate them to keep creating through dance,” said Nanda. “By dancing, we help preserve Indonesian culture,” she added.

Meanwhile, Nadya Devina and Nanda, Gema Citra Nusantara dance trainers, who provided six months of intensive training for dancers and musicians at Al Izhar Junior and Senior High School, expressed their pride. “This achievement is a source of pride because we trained the children how to dance from scratch, and they now enjoy it. As coaches, we found it challenging to unite their emotions, synchronize their movements, and instill a sense of togetherness,” Nadya explained.

Devi Rosari, from the education division of Al Izhar Schools, accompanied the students to the competition in Georgia, and expressed her delight at the students’ success. “We are very happy because this victory was not easy, especially since their ages vary from junior high to high school. This thus required them to collaborate and align their visions. So, this victory also means they succeeded in setting aside their egos and achieving a common goal,” said Devi.

One of Al Izhar Schools’ core values is to instill a love for Indonesia through its culture. “We try to instill love for the country in the students through extracurricular activities, particularly in traditional dance and gamelan (a Javanese traditional musical instrument),” said Devi.

Devi hopes that the Grand Championship title can inspire the participating children to become good role models for their peers, by prioritizing values such as independence, cooperation, discipline and caring for others.

Hadi Saputro, Vice Principal of Al Izhar Junior High School, expresses gratitude for the opportunity to accompany his students in the competition. “In the upcoming new school year, these children will be given the opportunity to perform and share their experiences, to inspire their juniors and seniors,” stated Hadi.

Musician and dance trainers from Gema Citra Nusantara (Source: Special)

Desy Kurniati, Vice Principal of Al Izhar Senior High School, expressed surprise at her students’ accomplishments. “When they won, I was speechless and emotional, because we know how hard they worked. Their success is a real sense of pride,” said Desy.

Arnie Arifin, Chairman of the Al Izhar Islamic School Foundation in Pondok Labu, is pleased with this achievement, since it highlights the value of cultural roots that are presented in the cultural mission. “One of Al Izhar’s missions is to help students become global citizens. This cultural mission allows people from all cultural backgrounds to come together. This competition journey also helps develop communication and collaboration skills,” Arnie explained.

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Kiki Puspita Sari, Director of Culture and Education at Kiny Cultura Indonesia, stated that Indonesia’s victory on the international stage brought honor to the country and inspired Indonesian children to love and preserve the culture.

Kiki also hopes the Government will extend their highest appreciation and recognition to the children who have brought pride to the nation on the international stage, as they have instilled a sense of pride and love for Indonesian traditions and culture.

This success is expected to inspire and motivate a younger generation to continue preserving Indonesian culture and representing Indonesia proudly in the global arena. The group from Al Izhar Junior and Senior High School in Pondok Labu has demonstrated that dedication and hard work can present Indonesian culture to be respected worldwide. “Children are the gateway to the future of Indonesia’s next generation. Al Izhar’s children aspire for an identity that values Indonesian culture. Hopefully, in the future, we can create culturally aware generations who comprehend manners, etiquette and propriety,” she concluded. (des)


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