• SIE@FSU

Bali's Strong Culture and Community by Donna McNair


Most tourist come to Bali for its tropical beauty and adventures, but Bali is much more than that. Over the past couple of weeks I have learned and experienced so much of the Balinese culture and it is one that I truly respect. From the second I stepped off of the plane the Balinese have gone out of their way to be helpful and friendly. They may not have the same kind of formal education we experience in the United States and they may not speak very good English, but they put in a lot of effort and are open to the tourists. The Balinese religion focuses on the good; they recognize evil as jealousy, confusion, and greed. Those three aspects sound a lot like America to me. Their religion is also very strong; many of the Balinese have explained to us that they are very good at filtering what is brought to Bali through globalization to decide what coincides with their beliefs. It was interesting to learn that the Balinese do not focus on their job or money, they care more about spending time with people and forming a strong community.

Community is valued in Bali like no other. The Balinese follow the system of the Banjar in which each village has a pavilion-like structure that acts as a community space for meetings, praying, activities, and much more. Within this system each member of the community is valued, and together they determine the work within the community. This system also allows for the community to work together and help each other when needed. The Balinese already live in family compounds containing members from several generations, but the Banjar creates a larger family of families. At one point someone asked the group "who knows their neighbors?" and I don't think a single person in our group rose their hand, that says a lot about our communities.

Community is valued in Bali like no other. The Balinese follow the system of the Banjar in which each village has a pavilion-like structure that acts as a community space for meetings, praying, activities, and much more. Within this system each member of the community is valued, and together they determine the work within the community. This system also allows for the community to work together and help each other when needed. The Balinese already live in family compounds containing members from several generations, but the Banjar creates a larger family of families. At one point someone asked the group "who knows their neighbors?" and I don't think a single person in our group rose their hand, that says a lot about our communities.

To put this into perspective about what we are studying, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, think about how important your network is. When we leave college and start looking for jobs in our field or set off to create our own business, our network is our opportunities. Also, so much change can be accomplished for your social mission if you have a network on board to invest, collaborate, brainstorm, critique, etc. So far every organization we have visited has identified that their initiative has progressed due to the use of the community and its people. A major theme is to utilize the people in the area and help improve their lives with wrap around services so the community as a whole can prosper.

Hopefully one day the rest of the world will learn from the Balinese and the importance of community. Until then I'll just have to keep coming back to Bali.