Jordan Zheng: T-1, Thoughts Before the 2018 WB/IMF Annual Meetings

Time flies by quick. It was only three weeks ago when I found out I would be participating in the 2018 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings. Three weeks later, all of a sudden, I am on my Air Asia flight towards Indonesia via a brief layover in Kuala Lumpur. If I am to be perfectly honest, in those three weeks I have not had much time to digest the fact that I will be in Indonesia over the next two weeks learning and exploring different ideas from various organisations that only a month ago, I would not have dreamed to be able to have contact with. Due to my slight lack of mental preparation of what’s to come in the meeting, my time over the next 24 hours is to have a clear idea of what I want to do at the meeting, what I want to learn, who I want to meet and the goals I want to achieve.

One thing I am definitely excited about is meeting all the other people in my delegation. They are all new faces to me and so far the only interactions I’ve had with them is the training session via video conferencing. Over these two weeks I hope to learn more about my team members and why they are passionate about the different projects they have decided to research. It’ll be really exciting to hang out with a bunch of Kiwis again, something I don’t have much opportunity to do since I moved to Australia for university. Hopefully, I will draw some inspiration from being among a bunch of individuals who are super passionate about important global issues.

This years’ annual general meeting falls into the year of the three year cycle where the event is held outside of Washington D.C. This year the annual meeting is to be held in Bali, Indonesia. Having lived in Australia for the past five years, Bali is something I’m quite familiar with. Something quite interesting that I’ve noticed throughout the years is the fact that people often mistake Bali as being its own country, rather than an island of Indonesia. This is an easy misconception to understand. Bali has a markedly different culture than the rest of Indonesia, being a primarily Hindu influenced culture as compared to the Islam influenced Javanese (typical Indonesian) majority culture to the west.

The situation in Bali is not unique, Indonesia is a nation made up of hundreds, if not thousands of different cultures and nations. Despite their different religious beliefs, customs, ethnicities and cultures, the Sundanese, the Javanese, the Balinese, the Dayaks, the Madurese, the Malays, the Batak, the Acehnese, the Madurese and the Tionghoa (Chinese Indonesian) all considered themselves to be equally Indonesian, all willing and able to shoulder the burden for one another, making sacrifices when necessary.

Their shared success depends on their ability to communicate and understand one another despite all their differences. This can be reflected in the fact that the language all Indonesians speak is Bahasa Indonesia, descendant of a historical Lingua Franca used by traders operating between different communities in the archipelago, rather than Javanese, the tongue of the dominant majority ethic group, a choice which Javanese leaders who established the country after the end of colonial rule purposely made.

There could not have been a more perfect location to discuss the important developmental and global financial issues of the current day than Indonesia. Indonesia in many respects represent a microcosm of the important issues facing the world. How do we manage environmental conservation, how do we bridge the divide between city and rural inhabitants, how do we reduce income inequality, how can we provide everyone equal access to education and how can we ensure that different religions can coexist peacefully. These issues plus many more are currently being faced by Indonesia.

The world and the global community can learn a thing or two from Indonesia. Despite all our diversity we are all ultimately one people and to be a united people, we must be able to understand one another.

Over the next two weeks, I hope to learn how to better understand my fellow delegates and others in the annual general meeting who are trying to come up with solutions to worlds most important challenges.

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences

Posted on October 3, 2018 and filed under IMF / World Bank 2018.