Welcome to Semarang – A First Look at Kemijen

Eight UH Master’s students arrived in Semarang to partner with Diponegoro University students as part of joint practicum / action research project to look at the Kemijen kelurahan (urban ward).

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The day began with a welcoming ceremony by Diponegoro University. The dean, head of faculty of engineering, and head of the department on urban and regional planning all joined in the welcoming. Graduate students also were invited to attend to be part of the initial introductions and the brief presentations about the the joint practicum program. After initial speeches, the students from UH also graciously received the welcome with a chant (oli) and the offering of a voyaging paddle inscribed with the University of Hawaii logo as a symbol of partnership.

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Presentations then proceeded to share all of the data collection that has taken place for the past several months. The UH students presented on secondary data about Central Java, Semarang, and Kemijen, and also shared information about international best practices on “living with water.” Then it was the UNDIP students turn, and they presented initial engagement in Kemijen, highlighting some of the vulnerabilities that they have identified through their interactions and interviews with the Kemijen community thus far.

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After the introductions the groups convened in a working lunch to discuss the approach for data collection in the coming two weeks of research. There were discussions about survey instruments, stakeholders to interview, and strategic direct observations. The findings will be presented at the 2016 International Conference on Regional Development, which will take place in Semarang on November 9-10.

In the afternoon the teams traveled to Kemijen and conducted a transect across the community. Two staff from the Kelurahan office also joined, providing context about the community, development challenges that they face, and the different efforts that are currently being undertaken.

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Just in the past three months, finalization of the Polder system has meant a dramatic reduction in tidal flooding for the Kemijen community.

We are eager to learn more about how the local community experiences vulnerability and will be sharing some of our preliminary findings on this blogsite. Stay tuned…!

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