Indonesian Gotong Royong (Mutual Assistance), Traditional Communal work for the community by Siska Nelson

created on Jun 30, 2016 modified on Jul 01, 2016 11:17


Students will immerse themselves in eastern culture of working together in a community. In Indonesia the idea of social interaction is collective, consensual and cooperative. Many key terms in Indonesian nature of society related to this ideological basis, one of them is Gotong royong. Gotong royong in literal meaning is “mutual assistance”. Gotong Royong is seen as an obligation of individual towards society. The idea of Gotong royong is sharing of burdens between the member of community. This interaction can develop towards meaningful long lasting friendships between the members of community and build trust. A gotong royong community would shared responsibility and prevent conflict in between the community members. It's a social solidarity in society within smaller bubbles of community. Gotong royong can happen in many social activities such as Kerja Bakti or traditional communal work (cooperative labor) to clean the environment in the neighborhood. Another example in Gotong Royong is the culture of helping the neighbor who will hold a wedding party (or other types of gatherings), by helping them with funds, food or even labor. After time, this particular neighbor will hold the same responsibility towards other members of the community and do the same thing, which means to provide help to someone in need. Many other examples can be mentioned in this social interaction to include, cleaning the neighborhood, building houses, irrigation, clearing fields, etc. This act of communal labor also have been done by military forces to help out disasters affected areas or for celebrating important day such as independence day, heroes day, etc. in their community.

In this project, students will have to create a list kerja bakti or gotong royong  activities that they can think of. The list then should be  posted in or or , these are indonesian forums where they can post a thread and ask local indonesian of what they think about the list and ask indonesians if the activities on the list is can be considered as a form of kerja bakti as their end product. The result should be documented and post it in the students blog. In the long run they may choose from the list of the activities that was discussed that is considered as gotong royong and launch it as their perpetual new project.

National Foreign Language Resource Center

Language: Indonesian

Subject Area(s): lifestyles, communities, values, traditions, society

Instructional Context

Product Description:
List of activities considered as gotong royong that can be implemented in the USA.

Audience Location:
Web: Indonesia

Target Audience Description:
Intermediate high level language students Indonesian community

Product Target Culture:
Gotong Royong

Language Proficiency

ILR Scale Listening:

ILR Scale Reading:

ILR Scale Speaking:

ILR Scale Writing:
1 2

ILR Scale Reading:

ACTFL Scale:
5 6

ILR Scale Speaking:

World Readiness Standards


Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives

School and Global
Lifelong Learning

Cultural comparisons

Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives


21st Century Skills

Interdisciplinary Themes
Civic Literacy
Global Awareness

Life and Career Skills
Initiative and Self-Direction
Social and Cross Cultural Skills

Information, Media, and Technology Skills
Media Literacy

Project Sequence Overview

Preparing for the Project

1. Discussion of Culture - Student will discuss what is collectivist and individualist culture in general. more detail

2. Listening to a song - Student will listen to a song in target language more detail

Launching the Project

1. Brainstorming of ideas - Brainstorming, ideas about what is gotong royong according to their own understanding Knowledge, where students should have a basic understanding in cultural society in the usa vs. asian countries. Students will have to research about the activity of: kerja bakti and gotong royong Student will give general understanding of what they found out about it and give word association to the term they have just researched more detail

2. Discussion of Pay it Forward culture - Student will watch video of pay it forward culture in the country and have to answer questions more detail

Managing the Project

1. TASK 1 - What do you see more detail