The Surakarta Sunanate, one of the old kingdoms of Nusantara, inaugurated Cheryl Halpern, an American filmmaker, to be a member of the royal family with the title of princess during a traditional ceremony. In keeping with tradition, Mrs. Halpern received special attire from the Palace of Surakarta to be worn at her presentation before the King of Surakarta, Panembahan Agung PB XIII Sinuhun Tedjowulan. The King bestowed upon her the title and new name, “Kangjeng Mas Ayu Dharmastutiningtyas”.
Cheryl Halpern’s reputation and dedication for promoting peace with respect for ethnic and cultural diversity were acknowledged with this tribute. In addition to making humanitarian films, Mrs. Halpern also founded the “Visions of a Peaceful Tomorrow” initiative that inspires young people to use the arts to express their views of a peaceful future. The Visions of Peace Awards, that has been launched in Indonesia, encourages Indonesian youth to hone their artistic talents and channel their creative visions for peace and human dignity through the variety of art and film modalities, including smartphones.
“I come from America, a country that is very young by international historical standards. So to be in Surakarta and be traditionally acknowledged, in a centuries-old kingdom is very moving and humbling for me. I am honored to be recognized by the King and the Surakarta Sunanate for the work that I have been doing as a documentarian. I am committed to sharing the stories of those who are dedicated to improving the human condition and embracing the nobility of the human spirit.,” said Mrs. Halpern whose films have been globally screened and awarded.
The Indonesian Motto, “Bhinneka Tuggal Ika, Out of Many, One” is one that has attracted Mrs. Halpern. She explained her interest, noting, “That the country is unique to have maintained a national motto promoting “Unity in Diversity” since the 14th century, if not earlier. A motto that acknowledges the diversity of all of the Indonesian ethnicities with respect for their traditions and cultures needs to be continuously supported internally but also to be shared with the rest of the world.”
Besides being titled as a Princess of the Surakarta Sunanate, Mrs. Halpern also received the Guardian of Civilization Award from the Borobudur International Film Festival. The award was given in acknowledgment for her involvement in projects to improve literacy and decrease prejudice.
Mrs. Halpern said, “As a grandmother of eleven grandchildren, I am concerned with the world in which they, and we all live. Around the world we are witnessing so much violence and disrespect for life. Today, with social networking platforms, young people are accessing a system of communication that allows for the unchecked spread of misinformation. It is a system in which the frequency of cyberbullying continues to grow, allows for untruths to be shared and for misperceptions to expand. As but one of many countermeasures, we need to do a better job of teaching the Golden Rule, the Ethic of Reciprocity and treat each other with the dignity and respect with which we ourselves wish to be treated. I hope that through my documentaries and through my educational initiatives I will be able to do my share to promote this goal.”