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Talent Show

by Guest Blogger

October 25, 2007

The following posting is from Hayden who is at our Forest Defenders Camp. Learn more about the camp and threats to Indonesian forests.

Last night at camp we had an incredible display of talent from all over our planet.  We had an amazing blend of cultures on display from Germany, Finland, Papua, Java, New Zealand, Australia, the U.S.A. and Argentina.

The talent show, or what we called the unjuk bakat in bahasa indonesia, is definitely a foreign concept to Indonesians, and probably to many others in camp from places farther afield.  I’m not sure of the cultural history of the talent show, but it is certainly something familiar to most Americans.

I suggested the idea of a talent show last week, when I noticed that after our nightly debriefings about the days events, the camp separated into separate groups, generally based on languages spoken.  I wanted to create a fun evening event that would get us all together.

It was challenging at first to get the Indonesians to sign up and participate in this foreign concept.  I even got a bunch of prizes together to try and encourage participation.  Most people were wary to participate, but the night of the event when it really became apparent how it was truly open to all comers we had some late entries from our local hosts.

I started off the evening, figuring that I should set an example of how it’s not that bad making a fool out of yourself in front of everyone, and it can actually be quite entertaining to the audience.  I created a skit (which was a new word to many people here, including most of the english speakers) – it was called "The Debrief" and I played Rob Taylor, our fearleass kiwi leader, and re-enacted one of our debriefs, except different people played different characters.  The highlight was JJ, one of our pilots, dressed up as Yifang, our Chinese forest campaigner.  He wore some of her clothing, which was quite funny considering that he’s about twice her size.

After the skit, we had an incredible performance by both of our pilots, JJ and Cedar.  They did a duet with a guitar, and a single stringed bass, made from a 5 gallon drinking water container, a large piece of bamboo, and a piece of nylon twine recovered from the construction of our camp.  They also put in some lyrics in Bahasa Indonesia – "bule bule, bule gila!" which means "white foriegners, crazy white foreigners" – which of course was received with rousing applause and laughter.

Frode, our Nordic campaigner really put himself out there.  He did a three act performance: the native forest, forest destruction, and then forest recovery, sung by a cat.  Yes a cat.  He was backed up by JJ and Cedar.  My face hurt from laughter after that one.

Rob Taylor then did a re-enactment of his punk rock days from twenty years ago.  He played so hard that JJ had to take some time to re-tune his guitar.

After this we had a story told in bahasa by Yusef, from Papua, translated by Findi.

Richi, our camp manager from Jakarta, then stepped up and had us all play a game, based on the concept of forest fires, that had us all running around and knocking each other over, and laughing like crazy.

Arti, our Argentinean video editor, played an electronic song that he made earlier in the day on his Mac computer.  It was pretty impressive, especially when considering he only put about 30 minutes into it.  Arti followed this with an awesome 1 minute video about our action in the forest from a few days ago, where we hung a giant banner that read "Save Our Forest, Save Our Climate".

Our last performance was a slide show put to music by our photographer, Oka.  It was lots of personal shots, and it was great to see how much we’d actually accomplished in the past 2 weeks.  We got to see lots of fun shots that we normally don’t get a chance to see – the ones that don’t make it to our website, on TV, or in the newspaper.

At the end I handed out the prizes to all who participated.  The prizes, or "hadiah", included two bottles of soda, which is a very hot commodity here at camp, a coupon for a 15 minute massage from our campmate Hengke, a coupon for two free hours of solar charging, for phones or laptops, which also is in high demand here.  And finally, the grand prize was a free paragliding flight in Byron Bay Australia, courtesy of Cedar.  The coupon was non-transferrable, and didn’t include transportation to Byron Bay.

It was a late night for the camp, but it didn’t seem that anyone minded.  In fact, there’s been a request for encore performances.  So we’ll see if that happens in the coming weeks.  We’re actually getting busier every day, so it’s not something that I can really think about now – but I think we may have some mini-performances in the coming evenings.

Stay tuned for exciting things – I’m moving from the Communications side of things to more of a laborer, so I’m looking forward to that.  I’ll write more when I can.

Hayden

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