Since I have a keen interest in traveling, winning the Modernisator competition has become one of the most unforgettable moments in my life. My sincere gratitude to my family and friends for their constant prayers, and to Modernisator and Indonesian government for giving me the special honor to represent Indonesia to attend the International Youth Forum in Egypt. Special thanks to Garuda, Ancora and Indonesian Minister of Youth and Sports for their supports, Egyptian government for their cordiality and kindness in showing their beautiful country, and my friends in the International Youth Forum for their friendliness, laughter and togetherness. On August 4, my friends and I stepped our feet in Cairo and here the journey started.
It was my first time joining a youth forum so I did not have clear ideas of what I would do there. At first, I thought the forum would be formal and serious discussions on world issues. However, what I experienced there was totally different from my imagination. During my stay there, we had many informal “forums” in which the delegates of each country shared “stories” and did “various activities” together. More than 19 participating countries were mostly from the African and European countries such as Central Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Italy, Czech Republic, etc.
We had plenty leisure time visiting ancient temples, museum and other historical sites in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, guided by professional tour guides. There were several groups in the tour, and my group was Habibi, which means “darling” in Arabic. Each time our tour guide wanted to call us, he would shout with a loud voice in Arabic “habibi, yala, yala,”, which means “habibi, come on.” My tour guide had a difficult time to gather us because some people were wandering like a flock of lost sheep searching for good spots to take photographs. Therefore, on the fourth day of the tour he lost his voice and hardly called out his followers. We visited Luxor museum, Abydos temple, Dandara temple, Edpho temple, Komombo temple, Philae temple, Hatshepshut temple, Luxor temple, Karnak temple, Valley of the Kings, Aswan high dam and Aswan botanical garden.
I was so impressed by the grandeur and majestic buildings of the Ancient Egyptians. Most of the places I visited were ancient temples that have tall walls made of extremely strong limestone with beautifully carved reliefs telling the stories of the Ancient Egyptians. During the Ancient Egyptian time, a temple was dedicated to a certain god. And most of the wall reliefs depict how the Pharaoh gives offerings to the god to obtain protection, prosperity and life. All temples in Egypt almost look the same. Unless you pay close attention to the tour guide’s explanation and observe the temples very closely, you could hardly tell the differences.
Ancient Egyptians were people of intelligent mind and advanced innovations. Their thinking and findings were more advanced than any other nations of their time. After visiting some temples in Egypt, I have become more interested in studying more about the history of Egypt. I am very curious to study further about the Ancient Egyptians’ concepts of life and death that has become the source of inspiration of the erection of magnificent ancient buildings, the famous mummification, and the hard-to-read hieroglyphic writings.
During the eight-day cruise on the Nile Story ship along the Nile river, my friends and I went for a tour in the morning till the afternoon, while at night we had National Day. In the National Day program, each country introduced and promoted their own country. Some of the groups wore their traditional costumes and performed traditional dances and games. From the presentations, I could enlarge my knowledge about other countries’ cultures, especially some African countries I never heard before like Gabon and Burundi.
It was regretful that our Indonesian team was not given any information about the program schedule until the day we reached Cairo. As a result, we did not bring adequate equipments to be presented to other participating countries in the National Day. However, we tried our best to make use of the national flag, Batik, Blangkon and Peci we brought. We agreed to present the national flag ceremony to show its uniqueness that has been part of our Indonesian culture for many years. We practiced several times and divided the tasks among the seven Indonesian representatives; two people as the flag holders, three as the flag team, one as the conductor and the other one as the presenter. After the flag ceremony, the presenter briefly explained the meaning of our national flag and national anthem. While explaining, my friend and I proudly held high the national flag while moving around the room to show the others the national flag. The presentation was then followed by the explanation about Batik as the most famous casual Indonesian clothes, with four people marching around the room while showing the Batik they wore. And the last one was the explanation about Blangkon and Peci. To end our presentation, we played dangdut song and invited all people in the room to come to the middle floor to dance together in dangdut style. The people were so excited to dance in dangdut style with two thumbs rising up and hips moving. Some of my Korean friends even told me they liked the dancing and thought it was fun.
There was also time when we met with the Governor of Luxor and Qena. The Governor gladly welcomed all delegates and gave a brief speech, which then followed by a short question and answer time. Apart from that, we also watched belly dance performance and some other Egyptian traditional dances. In the middle of the night, for two days in a row, we had Nubian and Galabiya parties. In the Nubian party, we watched the dance performance of the local Nubians who mostly dwell in Aswan. In the Galabiya party, most people wore the Egyptian galabiya, which is a long dress worn by men and women in Egypt.
Attending the international youth forum in Egypt has been a wonderful experience giving me abundant new insights of other countries’ cultures and history. However, I think the forum would have been better if we could have had small formal discussions on world issues such as world education, politics, environment, etc in combination with a tour. It would be very appreciated if the organizing committee could provide the participants with the complete details of the programs before the event and run the programs punctually. I am looking forward to attending another youth forum and will be very honored to learn about other countries.
There are still much more to tell about my ten-day experience in Egypt. If you want to know more about Egypt, you should visit that beautiful country to see with your own eyes the magnificence of the Ancient Egyptian civilization. And do not forget to bring your relatives and friends typical Egyptian gifts like Papyrus paintings, Alabaster statues, Kartosh accessories, and perfume essence.
Tulisan di atas merupakan laporan perjalanan saya sewaktu menghadiri International Youth Forum di Mesir. Saya sangat bersyukur pada Tuhan Yesus yang sudah memberikan saya kesempatan untuk bisa ke Mesir tanpa biaya sepeserpun. Dia adalah Allah yang menyediakan setiap kebutuhan kita. Saya sangat menikmati waktu-waktu saya di sana, di mana saya dapat belajar sejarah dan kebudayaan Mesir, yang memang merupakan minat terbesar saya. Ternyata mimpi siang bolong yang kelihatannya tidak masuk akal dan mustahil dapat Tuhan ubah menjadi hal yang sangat mungkin dan nyata. Dia memang Allah yang menjawab doa kita dan setia terhadap janjiNya. Amin... Teman-teman dapat melihat artikel di atas di website Modernisator (www.modernisator.org) yang merupakan organisasi nasional yang mendukung kegerakan dan kebangkitan generasi muda untuk menjadi generasi yang kritis dalam menghadapi tantangan jaman. Semoga cerita di atas dapat menjadi berkat buat kalian semua.