Cold temperature vs. warm hearts

November 11th, 2015 3:56 pm

novaNova Yulanda Putri Sipahutar, 26 years old, is a member of national ExCo of SCM Indonesia and a member of Standing Committee in WSCF Asia Pacific Region. She is a postgraduate student in Public Administration. She loves watching movies, reading novels, and travelling.

Nova’s testimonial follows the Religion and Politics conference in Czech Republic in October 2016.


Religions are a sensitive issue in Asia, particularly in Indonesia. We faced many cases of destroying the places of worship and attacking the people of other religions. Some provinces in Indonesia implement shariah law in their areas, meaning that all women have to use hijab and cover up their bodies. On contrary, at the conference that we have talked about freedom of expression. There is a law in France that prohibits women to cover up their body and face. For us (in the discussion) it was a question of freedom of expression and the democracy. As I know that the symbol of religions in public spehere is prohibited in France because of the manifestation of equality. Even though it is debatable for many countries.

It was interesting point that said atheist is equal with religions. Atheist has something that they believe in, theirselves or sciences, and religions belive in God. And it is the basic human rights that human being has the freedom to hold particular religion or to be an atheist. Indonesia need to learn how to respect other beliefs, because many people hold traditional religions. Traditional religions in Indonesia believe in God, but do not belong to Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hinduist, or Kong Hu Chu traditions. They are very close to the culture, ethnic tradition, to Earth even. It is very difficult to create the same position between the majority and the  minority religions. But we are trying to implement deliberative democracy that supported by moderate group and people who cares about diversity and harmony. We have built a constructive dialogue between religions, and it is working, even though we need to spread this constructive dialogue wider.

I have learned some new things during the conference, such as euthanasia and animal slaughter, and have deepened my knowledge about refugee situation in Europe. We need Compassion and love to help the marginilized and  discriminated. There are many reasons to reject the refugees flooding Europe: economic reasons, “job stealing” reasons, public services accessibility reasons, and even just worrying about the future of Europe if migrants will be given access to European countries. European people will be a minority in terms of numbers – it is the concern of some groups who respond negatively to the refugee crisis. But the refugees are humans like us. They need our help and the migrant people are well educated people and nice people. There is no reason to reject them. I learned how to respect other people though they come from different places, different religions, race. Another thing that I have never talked about before was animal slaughter. It is one of reasons for one to become vegetarian. In my past, I have heard only health reasons behind people’s choice to become vegetarians, or even vegans.  But now I see also the aspect of respecting the rights of other creatures. I would like to share this with my SCM and the Asia Pacific region, so that we could also choose way of respecting other creatures.

I got a new experience of how Regional Assemblies work in WSCF Europe – how the decisions are made. In democratic ways, the voted majority is always the winner. But it’s always good to listen and to reflect the minority opinion. For me personally, asking the minority’s reason of why they choose different things is way to respect them and build a dynamic and well-argumented discussion. I met SCMs from Europe region, and saw how many people accept same-sex marriage. It is great and very progressive, and we (Indonesian SCM and the AP region) are still fighting for this. And I am glad that we have voted in favour of association of SCM Armenia, and that both associated movements –  SCMs Armenia and Bulgaria – have a right to vote now; so the WSCF family is bigger now, and we can spread the values of ecumenism even wider. Age is not the limitation to serve in SCM though working as volunteer. Of course it is very good and I hope SCMs in Europe will get bigger in terms of numbers, and will create a positive and visible influence in their countries.

The last thing that I woud like to share is about my body experience. I thought I could not survive for 10 days in Europe. It was the coldest temperature my body has ever felt. I did not bring enough jackets and sweaters with me. I got a very bad cough, flu, red burning eyes and headache. I had to adapt to the Czech timezone, which meant that my activity time and sleeping time have totally exchanged places. Asia and Europe have a very different culture of eating, I needed several days to learn to eat European foods. Yes, it was my first time in Europe. But besides my strugles, I was so lucky! I met very nice people. They took such good care of of me – they asked about my condition, suggested me whem I should take rest, borrowed a scarf, gave me the medicines I needed. I am sure for my next visitat to Europe I be much better prepared.

Yes, I have learned so many things, and it was a great opportunity for me. I would like to say a huge Thank You to WSCF-Europe, which gave me this oppurtunity. Thank you also to the WSCF Asia Pacific and SCM Indonesia, which have supported my trip to Europe. It will be great if the members of WSCF-Europe come to our region as well, and we can learn together about Indonesia and about Asia.

I am proud to be a part of this ecumenical movement. Let’s make this world as home for all of people.



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