Thursday, November 11, 2010

(Probably) Inspired By His Childhood Memories In Indonesia's 60s Era? (Hello, President Barack Obama)

Found via Detikfoto

After canceling two previous visits, US President Barack Obama finally made it to Indonesia. The Hawaii-born president lived in Indonesia for four formative years (1967-1971). He spent six months studying in Menteng 01 elementary school or also known as Besuki elementary school (a state school) and the rest 3.5 years in Fransiscus Asisi elementary school (a Catholic school).

His schoolmates in Besuki and Fransiscus Asisi noticed that little Barry (that's how they called him) was different, but they befriended him regardless of his skin color or family background. They introduced him to local games, invited him over to try local foods and taught him words in Bahasa. I believe that those simple kindness formed his personality when he returned to the US in 1971.

When foreign reporters saw that there was a praying room in Besuki elementary school, they quickly deduced that it is an Islamic school. It is hard to avoid prejudice when you already have the bad thoughts in your head.

While Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, the education system does not enforce Islamic teachings and Islam is only taught as a subject for the Muslim students. Non Muslim students learn their own religion too at school. For example, the Catholic and Christian students have their priests coming to schools. Besides the state schools, there are religion-based schools too, such as madrasah (Islam-based schools) and the Catholic/Christian schools. Anyway, the schools accept all students regardless of the religion. When I was two or three years old, my parents enrolled me to a Catholic kindergarten because it was the closest institution near my home.

I went to Besuki elementary school a few years ago when I was doing an article on the childhood trail of Barack Obama. Here are photos of the school. Then tell me what kind of school you think it is.

At the gate

View of the inner courtyard and the praying room metallic dome on the right side

View of the second floor

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