Painting competition for National Youth Day- A Japanese perspective

The 12th November, is National Youth Day “Loron Nasionál da Juventude”. This is an important day for the people of Timor-Leste, as it is declared a public holiday, to honor and acknowledge the contributions of the youth to the independence of Timor-Leste especially through their participation in the internationally known demonstrations which led to the Santa Cruz Massacre on November 12th, 1991.

Over the weekend, leading up to the National Youth Day, some events were held. As a Japanese volunteer, I welcomed this day and participated in an event in Timor-Leste, so I would like to share my feelings including some differences from Japan.

The painting competition at Largo de Lecidere, Dili

Leading up to National Youth Day, there was a painting competition at Largo de Lecidere, a big square with a lot of trees and places to sit on Dili’s seafront. This competition was for youth, who started to paint from the morning to evening. The theme of the competition was “National Youth Day”.

The place for this competition was fantastic!! The youth could do their painting in front of the ocean; feeling comfortable with the sea breeze sitting under the trees, they could feel literally “nature” with all five senses. In this competition, I want to share some differences from a competition for Youth in Japan.

When comparing with painting competitions in Japan, this one was less of a painting competition, and more of a “live” painting competition. In Japan, participants finish painting by a due date and judges decide who is winner on another day. Here in Dili, the “live” painting competition, all participants start and complete painting from the morning to evening on the competition day, and then judged on the following day. For me, the live painting competition was interesting and a fresh idea.

It was brilliant watching the artists and the different way they painted. Some competitors were painting with such concentration; while others chatting away with their friends, and eating sweets. I loved seeing the different individual ways of painting and what makes each person create their art. This is wonderful.

Secondly, I can find a difference point between Timorese and Japanese paintings.

Many paintings included the National flag of Timor-Leste. In my experience for Japan, there are very few are paintings that include the Japanese flag, no matter what the theme is. But here in Timor-Leste, many paintings which the youth painted included the Timorese flag.

The following evening the winner was announced, but for me this competition is not about winners- as I think everyone should win! Art is such a personal thing, and how they express their feelings and thoughts with painting is about them as individuals. For what Youth Day means – is different to everyone; it maybe about history or stories they heard about the Santa Cruz Massacre and the struggle for independence, or being proud to be a youth and a leader in the community. It means that it is not only a painting but also the process to complete the painting. Maybe that too should be part of the evaluation, then, just trying and describe their feeling worth to win, so all competitors should win!

It was a good experience for me to see how people in Timor-Leste think about independence profoundly and habitually. I have yet to experience Independence Day in Timor-Leste (May 20th) and I am looking forward to seeing what happens from the viewpoint of a Japanese.

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