Ni Nyoman Clara Listya Dewi: Bali’s Language Ambassador

Clara Dewi was born Denpasar and spent her childhood in Kuta. Her father is a traditional painter and her mother is an entrepreneur. Clara was the first female student to become the chairman of BEM PM, one of the largest student organizations at Denpasar’s Udayana University. Always passionate about language issues, Clara became the first Language Ambassador of Bali (Duta Bahasa Bali Province) in 2016 and the first National Language Ambassador (Duta Bahasa Nasional) in 2016. Clara is a member of the Balinese Language Board (Balai Bahasa Bali), teaches social studies and is responsible for outreach at BASAbali Wiki (, an organization that works with community members and scholars to revitalize and perpetuate the Balinese language.


How have you applied your leadership skills?

I have always had an interest in developing my leadership skills. I was elected to become the most inspiring student in 2015. While serving as presdient for BEM PM, I helped run student character development and community social programs that were engaged in educational, environmental and cultural issues. The organization has three main programs including Student Day, Dies Natalis and the Udayana Jazz Festival. Another program teaches underprivileged children living in rural villages. I have also worked as the coordinator of environmental issues for student associations all over Indonesia.


Why were you chosen as a Language Ambassador over other contestants?

It was a long journey that led to my finally being selected as a language ambassador. I first had to pass a selection process at the provincial level. Before a panel of judges, the candidates were evaluated for their individual talents, presentations, debating skills and local and national language abilities. After passing through this assessment process, I was eventually elected as a language ambassador. But my journey did not stop there. I must continually fulfill my duties as a provincial representative of Bali and compete nationally against language ambassadors from other provinces throughout Indonesia.


How many language ambassadors are there?

The language ambassador program began in 2006. Each year there are aproximately 20 male and female language ambassadors selected. Each province in Indonesia has their own ambassador that promotes its own regional language such as Sasak, Batak, Manadonese, etc.


What special talents are required for the job?

Language ambassadors must be really passionate about linguistic issues. In addition, the language ambassador must be a person who can be a language instructor and inspire people to better appreciate their own native language. A language ambassador is also required to master both foreign languages and local languages. They must also be engaged in some project that is beneficial to society as a whole.


What are your specific responsibilities?

My particular job is to get people to love the Balinese language. I focus on young people who are interested in preserving the language. I collaborate with the Government Language Office in Bali, conduct linguistic and social responsibility seminars, visit schools to teach the importance of the Balinese and Indoneisan languages through storytelling, drawing and coloring. I teach how to use Indonesian language in the proper way, encourage a love of reading, put on language competitions and work with local TV stations to promote the language.


How do you help to promote the Balinese language?

I work with organizations, communities and individuals in developing the free BASAbali Wiki online dictionary/encyclopedia. We also donate our time to such national literacy programs carried out at the Government Language Center (Balai Bahasa Bali), such as as Teras Aksara, Sadar Bali and Gerakan Cinta Bahasa Indonesia which socializes the use of Balinese among the public and students. In collaboration with BASAbali Wiki, I recently conducted a workshop entitled “How to be a Good Translator” and completed a project on identifying Balinese herbs (Wiki Usada).


What environmental issues have you been involved in?

I’m vice-chairman at Human Resources Management of Sobat Bumi Indonesia, an organization that is concerned with the environment. We have held some some environmental activities and seminars that focused on trash, pollution, cleaning beaches, tree planting activities and and saving our threatened mangrove forests. I formed a medical team whose task it was to learn how to use medicinal plants in our daily lives.


Do you also work with children?

I’m involved in Udayana Mengajar, an educational project which teaches children who live in Bali’s rural areas. We recently taught in one of Bali’s most remote villages. Subaya village in the Kintamani District is three hours from Denpasar and can only be reached by motorcycle. The village has only one primary school with a few teachers. Every Saturday and Sunday, we gave instruction on math, the Indonesian language, dance and drawing. We didn’t receive any pay. We volunteer so that the children will benefit from the additional instruction.


Do you have any future plans?

I would like to continue studying for my master’s degree, specializing in the fields of education and environmental studies. I hope to pursue a career in the field of international relations. I want to develop the BASAbali Wiki even more. The Balinese language is the mother tongue of the Balinese people and needs to be preserved so it doesn’t become extinct. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.


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Copyright © 2018 Bill Dalton