The Different Colors of Balikpapan

2017.02.01
The Different Colors of Balikpapan

A heterogeneous society is difficult to handle. The government may face many problems such as racism among the society, which at times make tribal wars unavoidable. As a heterogeneous city with many immigrants and no official tribe, Balikpapan always has to face these difficulties. However, as you can witness today and in the everyday life of Balikpapan’s society, we can overcome those issues.

Perhaps many have not heard about Balikpapan. This is the reason why you have to hear about it. Balikpapan is a seaport city on the east coast side of Borneo, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. The area of the city is about of 503.3  and has a total of 736,806 people (2015) in population. Balikpapan is also the second-largest city in East Kalimantan, after Samarinda. Based on Indonesia’s Most Livable City Index, Balikpapan is the best city to live in 2013. As a part of the Earth Hour City Challenge, Balikpapan was also recognized as the Most Loveable City in 2015. It is a proof that despite having a heterogeneous society, Balikpapan still manages to unite all people.

Heterogeneity is not always a flaw, it is an excellence that we, as Balikpapan’s inhabitants, are proud of. By living in a heterogeneous surrounding, we learn how to respect and cherish each other, no matter which religion, tribe, race or country of origin. We learn how to provide help for anyone in need, without considering the different groups. That is the beauty of accepting each other.

However, life is not as smooth as silk. There are problems in every corners of your journey. Life will always challenge you, even Balikpapan could not avoid it as well. Balikpapan has been through hardships among the heterogeneous society. There also had been a conflict between the Indonesian tribes which came to settle in Balikpapan. The two rowdy tribes wanted to show their color and dominate Balikpapan with their colors. However, the government acted quickly and facilitated them with a discussion room to avoid tribal war. Fortunately, it worked and Balikpapan’s colors became harmonious once again.

Moreover, Balikpapan still also has to face racial tension in the society, even now. In my high school, for example. When I first got into high school, I was surprised by the amount Chinese and Malay faces painting our school life. Now, I am so glad that they are my friends. Having to adapt in a new canvas with many different colors sure is hard. Many jokes about each other’s colors and students ended up not getting along. However, as time goes by, we learned to accept each other and work together. Slowly but surely, the canvas we were painting on gets brighter with a harmonious blend of different colors.

Maybe Balikpapan still has many flaws I have not mentioned. However, living in harmony is our strength and that is the point I would like to share to everybody. Painting one canvas with many other people may be hard at first, but when the colors are mixed and blended well, you will learn that everyone needs to paint together in a team in order to create a harmonious work of art, just like the rainbow.


About the Author:

Syafira Nurulita, Frontrunner 16, from EF Balikpapan

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