Jakarta (VNA) – The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a ceremony to wrap up the 2018 Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship (BSBI), featuring 72 young awardees from 44 foreign countries, including ASEAN member states.

Addressing the event, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said arts and culture are a language to connect people and a soft power in foreign policy. Such a power can help Indonesia integrate into the world, and better maintain a peaceful life for everyone amid regional and global fluctuations, she added.

She expected that the programme will provide an opportunity for the world to better understand the arts, culture, and life of Indonesians.

Following the closing ceremony, a culture show took place for awardees to perform and show off the artistic skills they had learned throughout the course.

The 2018 BSBI programme was held from March 17 to June 24. The theme of the BSBI this year, “The Colours of Beautiful Indonesia”, depicts the diversity of Indonesia in terms of the culture, religion and beliefs, and traditions and customs of Indonesian people.

During the three-month event, the attendees were taught Indonesian language, arts, and culture, as well as given the opportunity to attend social activities and visit cultural relic sites in the host country. They were later sent to study at arts centres in six provinces, namely Bali, West Sumatra, East Kalimantan, East Java, South Sulawesi, and Yogyakarta.

The BSBI is an annual scholarship organised by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has been conducted since 2003 and was initially offered to and participated in by member countries of the South West Pacific Dialogue (SwPD), being Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and the host Indonesia.

Because of the significance and advantages obtained from the programme, the scholarship has expanded over the years to include member countries of ASEAN, ASEAN 3, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), as well as many other countries from regions all over the world.

It aims to introduce Indonesian arts and culture to the world's youth by providing learning facilities for practices such as choreography, gamelan (traditional instruments), batik, painting, museums, nature tourism, traditional food, and more.

To date, the scholarship has been awarded to 776 students from 69 countries. This year, five countries – Benin, Ghana, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Jordan – sent participants for the first time. –VNA