Journeying to Peace: A Travelogue


In a journey to the heart of Bandung, we examine up close how to bring together communities from different race, religion, and culture to live in harmony.

Earlier this year, we embarked on a journey to visit the non-profit organisation Peace Generation, whose mission is to promote peace, interracial and religious harmony in the region. Led by Ashoka Fellow Irfan Amalee, PeaceGen has been supported by The Silent Foundation and APC over the past few years under the ASEAN Peace Initiatives. As the project has come to a close, the question of What comes next? naturally arises–which is what this trip sought to examine.

2 March

[1:30 pm] Excitement mounts as the group gathers at the station to board Indonesia’s first high-speed rail from Jakarta to Bandung. Joining us on this visit are APC members Mr Teng Ngiek Lian and Matthew Teng from The Silent Foundation, together with representatives from many of our Indonesia members including Anindya from Amman Mineral, Erry from Jababeka, Norko from Campaign #ForABetterWorld.  Our fearless guide: Adriana Anjani from PeaceGen, who is looking after the group’s every need for the next three days.

[2:30 pm] The rain is pounding our ‘disco bus’ as we make our way through the streets of Bandung. Our crew of 6 has just disembarked from the Jakarta rail, where we clocked 178 km/hour on our 40-minute journey—one that previously would have taken three or four hours! We are greeted warmly by the energetic team at PeaceGen, who share with us their stories, personal journeys and musical talents. 

We learn about the origin of PeaceGen from its unlikely co-founders: an Indonesian Muslim and an American Christian with a shared passion for promoting peace among the younger generation and building bridges to avoid violent conflicts, often started through a lack of understanding.

3 March

[8:00 am] It’s Sunday morning and the streets are quiet as we set out for our visit to EcoCamp, a PeaceGen partner focused on ecology and environmental conservation—‘a place of hope and love for the earth and the next generation’. Before we begin our tour, we are treated to a ceremony that not only educates, but pays tribute to the tea production process, from the soil for planting, sunlight and rain, to the steaming, oxidation and drying, to the ritual of making tea. Our guide leads us on a listening journey, eyes closed and hot cup in hand, through the process that requires both nature and humans working together in harmony. The gentle voice reminds us to slow down, appreciate quiet moments and focus on the beauty of the world around us. I don’t believe any of us will ever be able gulp down a rushed cup of tea again!

[9:00 am] Fortified in mind, body, and spirit by our tea, we set out to learn about the organic farm and the peace and ecology programmes it offers. We hear from young student leaders who have been equipped through EcoCamp’s training to champion environmental and social projects in their respective schools. 

Spending time with the students, having the opportunity to ask questions and sharing lunch together enabled us to dig deeper and gain insight into the challenges the students face, such as family pressure at home or bullying at school, and from where they draw their strength.

[2:30 pm] Hidden talents abound in this traveling group! We all took part in playing the angklung–a bamboo musical instrument—and dancing with young performers as part of our traditional Sudanese cultural experience at Saung Angklung Udjo (where the Mayor of Bandung also previously enjoyed a performance). 

Mr Teng was led by the smallest of dancers, a girl no more than seven years old, who captured all our hearts. Hearing a packed arena filled with visiting school children and tourists playing hundreds of Angklungs in unison is a sound not soon to be forgotten!

March 4

[9:00 am] It’s Monday. A school day, and the reason why we’re here. Today we visit a local school to witness PeaceGen’s ‘Breaking Down the Walls’ programme that brings together Muslim and Christian students, many for the first time. We have the unique opportunity to watch the programme unfold, witness the students’ reactions, hear their individual reflections, and get a sense of the lasting impact created. 

We heard students express their parents’ concerns about them joining the activities as they had ‘never met a Christian person before’. We watched absolute strangers from different communities evolve from quiet onlookers staying only with their friends to active participants, laughing and mingling with their new acquaintances.

PeaceGen’s experienced facilitators helped students to share their own views and expectations coming into the day and communicate how those views were impacted by the exercises. We spoke with school administrators—one who had been running the programme for years and another who was trying it for the first time—and gained insights into the importance of introducing PeaceGen’s concepts to students at a young age. In short, we ‘got it’. 

[1:00 pm] Lunch in the school’s canteen followed the workshop and our group of travelers were abuzz with ideas and possible next steps on where else to take this programme. Suggestions were shared to explore strategies for expanding the programme into new markets. 

[2:00 pm] After three days together in Bandung, it was time to depart and say our farewells. We thanked our friends at PeaceGen for their wonderful hospitality and for creating such an educational and inspiring itinerary—one that surely created lasting memories for us all. Feeling both content and a bit tired from the action-packed visit, we boarded our cars for the three-hour road trip back to Jakarta. There may have been a bit of napping along that drive, and perhaps dreaming of creating a more peaceful world for us all.