by Indra Prawira Nanda Mokodongan

What comes into your mind when you are thinking about Australian Indonesian Youth Exchange Program’s (AIYEP) work placement in Australia? Office? School or University? Hospital? or the Embassy?

Well, it will be a very remarkable opportunity for you if you got a chance to experience working these kind of places.

But how if you got something different? Something that is not even in your expertise? Something beyond all your expectations?

Well, sometimes it becomes a big problem for those who are expecting too much…

For me?

It will always be an astonishing experience!

It was a remarkable chance to experience a 3-weeks regional phase volunteering for Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) in an amazing place called The Rhythm Hut. It is a space and community where arts, music and culture have reached the higher level of interpretation. They started everything from a small space that they first used to do rehearsal for their performance as a band called The Rhythm Hunters, and it slowly turns out to be a place where they teach a small class of local people about the hand drumming techniques. It gets bigger and bigger every year until it becomes what it looks like today.

IMG_1428         By the time we arrived here, we met Lou, the General Manager of The Rhythm Hut who is very kind and lovely person. She brought us to have a quick tour around all the spaces that they have here in The Rhythm Hut which is awesome. They have their office, lounge room, volunteer’s rooms, drum storage, a small djembe and percussion factory, a very nice deck with beautiful paintings, chairs, tables and cushions, a small bar and a place where all the events and classes are being held called The Shed all in one beautiful place here in Gosford, New South Wales. It is very surprising that this place even exists here on earth. That’s why I love and enjoy every single day here in The Hut.

The activities as a volunteer in The Rhythm Hut are more about keeping our spaces all tidy and clean so people around here will always feel comfortable and enjoying their time with The Rhythm Hut. Every morning started with a morning meeting for all volunteers in order to discuss and arrange what we are going to do based on the scheduled program and events. The arrangement is not only to finish daily house works, but also about being responsible, cooperative and to appreciate each other’s work. Day by day all these activities create an invisible bond between the volunteers even if they only stay in The Hut for a short time. Another thing about The Rhythm Hut is that several times in a week, the volunteers are allowed to join all the scheduled classes, such as Djembe class, Taiko class, and Ukulele class. This is absolutely an even greater experience for me as an AIYEP participant, because it pushed me to step out of my comfort zone as a musician, to have new experiences by learning how to play the percussions (Djembe and Taiko). When house works and weekly classes became a great opportunity, the special events and gigs that always bring people together make the journey spectacular. The first event was an African Drum and Dance Workshop with Epizo Bangoura, the one who brought and spread African music and culture worldwide. The second event was a Live Music with Moondogs, Mar Haze, Tall Hearts and a special guest Bootleg Rascal. The last event was the Didgeridoo & Flute Sound Healing with Ian Hakker and Leandro Villamil.

IMG_2458     Three weeks working and living with The Rhythm Hut has turned me into a different person, a better person. I learned a lot from these wonderful people who dedicate their love and life for arts, music and culture that they believe will always be the reason to bring people together, to spread happiness, to inspire people, and to keep the world in a rhythm.