Carolina Chandra Rumuat is spinning a new planet in the Global Voices-Lingua galaxy of languages: Global Voices in Bahasa Indonesia. Say what? In Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of no less than 237 million Indonesians. In truly globalized fashion, Carolina from Indonesia translates and nurtures the brand new Lingua website all the way from… Morocco!
Carolina, the West is practically clueless about your native language. What should we know ?
There are 700 or so languages in Indonesia, almost all of them living, spoken languages. In 1928, Indonesia declared Bahasa Indonesia the national language, the language of unity for everyone in this archipelagic country. Indonesian – or Bahasa Indonesia – is the fourth most spoken language in the world
How do you fit in this vast, very diverse, young country ?
In Indonesia, I'm considered three parts minority — well, at least, I was during President Suharto's New Order era: I'm a Christian Protestant, not a Muslim, I am half Chinese, and I'm a woman. I was very close to my Chinese maternal grandparents who practically raised me. Thanks to them, I learned the importance of knowledge, and that some virtues simply stand the test of time. Like, that you should be there for those in need, and be responsive to those under oppression. My grandparents are very Chinese, but luckily their life virtues didn't come solely from the Little Red Book. Sure, hard work is something they stressed, but so was the virtue of a quiet mind (a.k.a patience) I'm a nerdy type and I don't let my passions turn lukewarm. I found writing addictive. It's not just an outlet, it brings me joy. After college, I worked as a news writer in Jakarta, then as assistant journalist in a foreign news agency in Bali.
From Bali to Casablanca, Morocco…What happened ?
In Bali, I met and fell in love with my soulmate. After a while, we had to come to terms with the fact that his business needs him to be in Morocco. Since neither of us wanted to part, I simplified the decision-making process and came with him to Morocco.
Besides this, I also learned that the media is changing quickly. Online media is no longer an alternative: it is the future. I have mixed feelings about this, but one of the good points is that at least we can spare the forests. I'm an impulsive blogger, at Between Birth and Burial, and I have huge interest in new media.
How and when did you get acquainted with Global Voices ?
My fiancé first showed me Global Voices sometime last year. I read the website and without even reading the manifesto, I knew that Global Voices embodies one of those “changes” of dynamism in online journalism. Without a second thought, I bombarded Leonard and Portnoy, heads of the Lingua project, with email pleas. I wanted to be involved because I know that Indonesians’ interest in reading is low. I think that, perhaps, if news is published in their native language, their interest in international issues will grow.
President Suharto's era caused people to curb their curiosity, and now is a good time to fix that — Indonesia is one of the world's youngest democracies. That's why I sincerely feel that people should be better informed about their rights, including freedom of speech. My first translation appeared in December 2008, a few days after I officially joined. Lingua is a good platform because it encourages people not to keep their troubles to themselves, it helps them realize that in some ways our lives are amalgamated with the rest of the world, even though we speak different languages.
How did Carolina from Indonesia adapt to Morocco?
Culture shock made me slow in socializing. I landed a job about 2 months ago in an Internet start up. It allows me to learn new things about myself and how to manage people despite our cultural differences. The bright side of my job is that it allows me to meet new people and see how they see live.
Casablanca reminds me a lot of Jakarta. Big and still growing, with a cosmopolitan charm that lures people from smaller cities to try their luck here. It also has a lot of contradictions. We can see women in burqas waiting at a bus stop next to a girl wearing a miniskirt and fishnet stockings. The biggest mosque in Maghreb is only a stone's throw away from the nightlife district, which I find interesting. I haven't had much chance to travel around the country yet. The Moroccans I know say that Casablanca is not Morocco. But so far, I think Morocco is a charming country. It's not the easiest country to live in for most Asians (including myself), but all experiences are valuable. It gives me lots of material for my blog.
Please introduce us to your first volunteer translators!
Global Voices in Bahasa Indonesia currently has 4 active translators including myself. Galuh Tahtya is one of my college buddies. After moving to Casablanca, we started to swap news, and one day I told her about the Lingua project. She decided to join.
Then came Ivan Lanin, the director of Wikimedia Indonesia, who also showed interest in volunteering. We found Oktavia Sidharta through Portnoy of Global Voices in Chinese, while our latest addition, Juliana Harsianti, is also an acquaintance of mine back in Jakarta. She is currently studying in Oslo, Norway with a scholarship laureate in online media.
Global Voices in Indonesian is still a baby but we hope that it will grow as big as Global Voices in French or in Spanish. I have some plans I wish to implement soon. I want to introduce Global Voices’ mission to Indonesian young minds, especially those living on the island of Bali. I also wants to get in touch with my school and bring the Lingua project to their attention. I wish to share the beauty of volunteering with youth and the Indonesian public in general. Global Voices in Indonesian is taking it one step at a time, and it's truly a labor of love.
Global Voices in Bahasa Indonesia has a Facebook page!