TAKE AWAY KNOWLEDGE(S) Why do people work abroad? What can they bring back home? Since 2011, my friends and I have been developing a research about the Indonesian migrant workforce. Those who are about to depart Indonesia for work, those who are already living in their designated countries, as well as those who are about to return—to come back home. There are more and more Indonesians who work as migrant workers abroad and there are many villages whose people's lives (or economic development) are dependent on their remittances from these migrant workers. Oftenly enough, the classic case—as we often hear from other parts of the planet and from different time periods—would be: to migrate, or to leave for work abroad, seems to be one of the certainties in the life cycle of low-skilled workers. To many of the migrant workforce, working within their own living environment would be hopeless as it would never pay them enough to even allow them to imagine of building something on their own. Unfortunately, it is very clear that to some of the people in this workforce there is almost no doubt that they will do it again. That they’d work abroad for more than once or even twice. One of the challenges in this situation is the fact that, due to the constantly changing policies, no one can guarantee any sustainability within their (re)integration phase. After migrating to another country for work, the returnees would arrive (to their home country) with considerably big enough savings. They would also carry some sort of embodied knowledge or skills that they could utilize and share. Regrettably, quite a lot of them had to decide to immediately go back into the migrating; to work abroad. The recurring reasons for this case are, among others: (1) Lack of job opportunities with equal income as working abroad; and (2) Lack of knowledge on current challenges back home, therefore not knowing how to socially economically reintegrate. Their life cycle becomes some kind of loop; they’d keep coming back to the situation where there is no hope, therefore seeking another hope—by continue migrating or working in another country. So, how do we hack the situation? By exploring several possibilities! One of which would be to connect the migrant workers with each other, especially to those who can play the role of “local anchors”—those who have created spaces for identification on how to make a place, how to create a home, as well as how to survive at home (and in different regional context). Their bottom-up knowledge are often particular and difficult to formalize as it always depends on specific geographical, environmental, social and political context. Since—at this point—they would actually be at their homes, there must be an abundant amount of resources available for them. Though so, in many cases, insufficient money, skills, and/or technology would lead them to the lack of imagination towards what they could develop based on these profuse resources. Another part that needs to be taken care of is on constructing a better understanding of what may be understood as “returning” or “going home”—sometimes even said in a redundant manner: returning back home. What can we bring with us upon returning to the place we'd want to call home? How did we get here? The Indonesian government started sending out migrant workforce since the 70s. At that time, the growth of our population have began causing unequal distribution of education as well as access to information therefore the lack of chances for many people to be a part of the active workforce. The big urban cities had to become people’s destinations. People would generally be heading to cities like Jakarta—the capital—or other big oes such as Surabaya, Makassar, Medan, etc. People had to find whatever kind of work to simply survive. Many would become laborers or find work in other informal sectors. At the same time, the developed countries all over the planet needed exactly the type of workforce that they are in order to fulfil jobs that are considered dirty, dangerous, and difficult—experts and analytics would literally categorize these types of jobs as “3D”. By this moment in time, for the developed and overdeveloped countries, these are precisely the kind of jobs that they no longer have human resources to be doing—let alone a workforce. Indeed, it is precisely this level of Indonesian workforce that started migrating globally. For them, this was almost the only option that they had in order to sustain their families’ well-being with a slight of hope towards coming back to a better condition. Since the New Order gained its power, in 1966, one of the main causes for economical imbalance was obviously corruption. Led by Soeharto who decidedly pursue the liberal-capital economy, the regime’s reason for foreign investment was due to catching up equality in terms of “development”. Not only in the industrial side, but also towards food and agriculture. Soeharto’s years, 32 of them, were full of dictatorial practices due to active military involvements. The military had a really, really big role, thanks to the regime’s popular policy: Military’s dual-function. The policy allowed military to, not only become the guardian of our national safety, but also to have public roles within state politics (and business). Not only the guardian of our national safety, but also to have public roles within state politics (and business). The idea of “development” within this regime was also very centralistic whereby all of the decisions were made by and within the central government’s context. In other words, in Jakarta. The provincial government only had to wait and see. Instructions from the centre will arrive and they’d have to abide by the policies. The dictatorial regime bothered to make an argument for this attitude: their simply making sure that nation’s integrity, union and unity is applied in all disciplines, at the very least, within the economy, politics, social, and culture. In the educational world, this centralised system was also used in deciding curriculums, under the argument towards equality and national standardization. Until the very end, the corrupted regime could never even get close to whatever they called as equal distribution. In the end, the education system that are based on this centralistic attitude generated an unnecessary uniformization of culture. The New Order also decided in industrializing the agriculture and plantation because there are so many laborers to feed in the new modern industries that they dreamt of. The agricultural turn from traditional to modern also changed the culture and livelihood of the farmers families. Particularly for women, as lots of their roles are replaced by these machine. And, they were not the ones being educated by the government to be using the machines, it was the men that were assumed to be capable of such jobs. Losing the work that they have embodied, these women had to find other ways of living. Formally lowly educated or even uneducated at all, these women had to become laborers in the new factories or work abroad, in places where their kind of specifications are needed. Until now, there are still a large number of workforces that do not have access to what accepted as “higher education”, and certainly have a lower bargaining position to get jobs with decent wages. And this causes greater inequality. Therefore: the sending of labor abroad has become one of the government's strategies to overcome the unemployment rate. Human (as) resources? Since the beginning of 2019, we have observed the different schools that are preparing Indonesian migrant workforce. The need to observe simply raise from our curiosity. We wanted to understand better on how are the migrant workers being trained, educated and organised? In what kind of industries are they targeted to work? Who (or what) created the demand for the migrant workforce? How are the state and corporations actions in meeting this demand? How are the knowledge(s) in working abroad, in particular industries, being choreographed? Many of these schools are specifically designed in giving training programs for Indonesian migrant workforce that are to be sent to Arabic Countries as well as the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile the working sector is dominated by domestic work such as house helpers, babysitters, or caretakers for elderly people. The next demand would be from industries such as tourism, construction, fisheries and maritime as well as seafarers. The last one I mentioned is getting more and more demands from the Asia-Pasific region. This then tells us how most countries are losing workforce within the maritime and seafarers industry. By far, it has been really interesting for me to learn; that what factored these high demands is the fact that the demography rate is changing, particularly in East Asia. Instead of facing the demographic changes, they deal with it by utilizing workforce from other places. Let us go back to the biggest focus of the vocational schools: Carework. Taking care of children and elderly, as well as doing domestic chores, are usually activities that are based on particular memories depending on each societies and living spaces. These are supposedly the kinds of activities that one would inherit from generations to generations. And now, people with such particular knowledge(s) are declining as that role had to transform into a service, performed by other people with standardized attitudes and information. Hence the vocational schools—where these standardized knowledge is being distributed for the workforce to learn to act it before finally performing it. These schools are precisely the place in which these standardized knowledge(s) are being choreographed. How does one act as an arranger for domestic, familial activities in Saudi Arabia? How does one perform cooking with materials that exist in Hong Kong? And many more questions arise. As it has become a form of top-down choreography rather than something that is inherited through living life within particular locations and societies—we also are interested in further understanding the relevance of these government and corporations’ choreographed knowledges that are distributed through these vocational schools. How do all these influence the reality that these migrant workforce are facing in living and working abroad? The fact that they have to work in a society that is not their own would have generated what I would call “bottom-up” choreography as these are not taught within the vocational schools/training centers that are usually managed by government or corporations. So the next question would be, how to share the knowledge of theirs? Reclaiming knowledge(s) In South Korea, for example, we witnessed with our own eyes how Indonesian migrant workforce built their own supporting system amongst each other, collaboratively. Especially for those who are facing work situation difficulties. They had to do it themselves simply because Indonesian government’s supporting system is too minimal to face reality that is so complex. Therefore, it is really important for them to have the space to share strategies and tactics. We see their experience working as migrant workers in South Korea as knowledge, as something valuable to be shared. When you migrate, you travel. And, when you travel, you can see and learn so many things. We believe that all of these experiences can be evaluated, appreciated, and, finally, formulated as knowledge(s). That's where we started thinking of developing a mobile app that operates as some sort of a digital barn, where all the experiences and knowledge(s) are collected. If we see the app like a living room that stores these experiences and knowledge(s) in it, all the app users are can be both hosts as well as guests. When they are sharing, they become the host. When they are accessing, they become the guests. This “living room” is simply an enabler for workers to share what they have experienced, which is often years of accumulated rudimentary practices (and in various disciplines). Due to its simplicity and rudimentariness, a lot of these information are not looked at—let alone treated—as knowledge beforehand. But, it actually is! Therefore, it really is important to rethink this notion of knowledge(s). Once we are able to process such information as knowledge, it would then enable us to perform these knowledge(s) alongside each other, and with each other. One way to begin with would be—again—to think about how these knowledges then possibly be reproduced and be shared? There are so many numbers of workforce who are on a waiting list, hoping to immediately depart to South Korea, for example. While at the same time, there are generations of workers who have worked there or are already working there, meaning that they have experienced working abroad, therefore have gained some knowledge(s) about their working environment as opposed to those whose have not left. And, in acknowledging this potential, we need to continue the line of questions and curiosity: How do we preserve while constantly share these kind of knowledge(s)? What does it mean to transfer them within an artistic practice?