Celebrating Indonesia

I have been learning about a new culture for three months in the U.S. In November it was my turn to introduce Indonesia to the people of Indiana! For International Education Week (IEW), I organized a celebration at Whiteland Community High School with other exchange students and the Culture Club. We made a proposal for the celebration to school administrators, then we sent questions to the student body to help prepare.

With Jawaria, my double placement sister, I started IEW in a unique way. We swapped our traditional clothes. I wore Pakistani clothes called khamis, and Jawaria wore Indonesian batik. Later on that day, we went to our school TV studio to announce the IEW celebration to the students. We also passed out our IEW flyers that day.

The presentations, free food, and culture booths were all successful. We decorated the booths with traditional items. I made an Indonesian corner. I displayed our flag, maps, souvenirs, books for kids, postcards, and money. I served Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng), indomie (Indonesian noodles), fish crackers (kerupuk), candies, and some drinks. Students stopped by our booths to taste a bite of our food and ask us some questions. We had Indonesian, Pakistani, Spanish, German, and Jordanian foods to try. I achieved my goal—to bring the IEW atmosphere to my school in Indiana!

I did 12 presentations in one week, each different depending on the class. In Child and Development, I introduced the child birth traditions and the parenting style in Indonesia, for Algebra our education system (especially math). In Spanish class, I discussed the similarities of our language and cultures (I did the presentation in the Spanish language!). In Ceramics, I talked about the art, culture, and heritage of Indonesia. In U.S. History, I talked about a brief history of Indonesia. In English class, I talked about the education and school system. In Nutrition and Wellness, I discussed Indonesian food and cuisine. And in Anatomy and Physiology, I talked about Indonesia in general. I also made a special presentation for the one I did during study hall; it was a mixture of all the topics. 

I tried to engage the audience in each presentation. I often threw a question to the students, gave a challenge such as a tongue twister, dared them to speak Bahasa with me, read a book, taught them how to wear our traditional clothes, did our handshake, or played traditional games such as jump rope with them! I wrote my friend’s name in my local language, danced a traditional dance, and performed a short puppet show. 

IEW is already over. It was a week full of joy and new experiences! I learned a lot from it. To introduce my culture and country has been my dream since I was a kid. I didn’t know I could fulfill that dream at such a young age. Through the YES program, PAX, and IEW, I was able to make my dream come true. 

—Syakira (YES, Indonesia), hosted by the Taylor family (IN)