Asia Society-Supported Group Kampung Halaman Receives White House Award

Photo by Steven Purcell

Kampung Halaman, an Indonesian non-profit organization that fosters the use of audiovisual media in community- and youth-centered projects, received an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) in Washington, DC yesterday. Asia Society, in partnership with the Asian Cultural Council, was instrumental in bringing the group to U.S. government officials' attention.

18-year-old Muchamad Fajar Ismail of Yogyakarta was at the White House to receive the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of Kampung Halaman, which was recognized for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by engaging them in the community-based media and art program.

Kampung Halaman came to the attention of the White House through Asia Society’s special report, Making a Difference Through the Arts: Strengthening America’s Links with Asian Muslim Communities. The report, which launched in August 2010, offers examples of the diverse ways in which cultural development and exchange in and with Asian Muslim communities have created successful projects by drawing on culturally grounded knowledge and strategies. The report offers concrete strategies exemplifying best-practices in seeding and cultivating cross-cultural connectivity. The report goes on to offer case studies of organizations within Asia’s Muslim communities, including Kampung Halaman

Kampung Halaman’s website states, "Youth should be the most important members of the communities in this world, as they are the keys to the success of the regeneration process." The organization aims to recognize young people, particularly those between ages 17 and 25, as potential agents of change, and recognize them as crucial "social capital" in the communities where they live. Respect for cultural, religious and ethnic differences are among the core principles of Kampung Halaman — in fact, pluralism and multiculturalism are primary issues addressed in the media that students produce. Muhammad Zamzam Fauzanafi, a visual anthropologist who is one of the group's founders, explains that although the videos have a strong aesthetic quality, the discussions that the videos produce are more important than the visuals.

“These young people are learning how to use creative thinking to work as a team, to solve problems and to express themselves constructively. These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have to be able to succeed in school, in work and in life,” said Asia Society's Rachel Cooper, Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts.

Kampung Halaman was the sole international awardee this year, along with 12 youth programs from across the United States. Mr. Fauzanafi and Mr. Ismail's participation at the White House ceremony was made possible by grants from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and Asian Cultural Council. The highest honor such programs can receive in the United States, the awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The award honors community-based arts and humanities programs that make a marked difference in the lives of their participants by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, developing positive relationships with peers and adults, and expressing themselves creatively.

Click here for Michelle Obama's speech