Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Jakarta Shortlist: our school

I was recently chastised by my dad because I haven't posted anything on the blog since December.  My schedule has grown busier with work and the girls' schedules have gotten busier as they continue to grow older.  Add in that Dave had dengue and we are now preparing to move and I have precious little time for writing.  But as we enter the home stretch, I am becoming aware of the things I will miss in this city.  So, just to please my dad, my goal is to post my Jakarta Shortlist over my last few months in this city.

Top of the list - the school.

Even when we hated it here, we could always say that we loved the school.  Our girls left the house for a walk on our first day in town and they immediately hated Jakarta.  It took a long time for them to get over the garbage and the smells and the challenges of getting around this city.  But it took them a matter of minutes to get comfortable at their school.

The tree in the central courtyard of the school.

This elementary school has fostered a strong sense of community, where our girls support each other and stand up for their friends.  They have grown as performers and musicians, as authors and illustrators, as thinkers and athletes.  They raise money and they build businesses.  They spend recess running and climbing, or putting on impromptu puppet shows in the library.  They have been challenged in more amazing ways and their confidence has grown more than I could have imagined.  Moving this summer will be hard, but each girl is in such a strong place academically and socially that I know they will land well.

The wall in Lilly's classroom - a white board full of thoughts.
That my girls are happy and growing as students and as people makes me love this school. This week is Indonesia Week - and it is a week that the school shines.  They Day Two Assembly this morning had performances from rwo local dance troupes and the children loved them.  They heard from a student's godfather about the school's namesake. The 5th grade performed a traditional song on the angklung and the entire student body sang along.  We live behind gates in our neighborhood and their school sits behind high walls with armed guards at the gates.  It is too easy too forget what country we live in, unless we are annoyed by how it differs from what we expect.  But Indonesia Week makes my girls know and love the place they live, something I am so thankful for.

I watched the assembly this morning and then went to Lilly's music class, where she taught me how to play the angklung and with the gamelan.  She and her friends were enthused about the music and happy to engage with me and each other.  After the parent lesson, I hopped in the car and headed to work.  What should have been a 30 minute drive took nearly 100 minutes because taxi drivers and other public transportation deliverers protested online applications like Uber and Grab Taxi in various public places around town.  As we left the school, which is located near the epicenter of the protest, bajajs paraded down the street with protest signs and flags flying.  It felt almost festive and had a definite energy.

But those bajajs, taxis, and private buses blocked the major street between the school and my office forcing us to take another route.  The traffic stopped feeling festive pretty quickly, and led to a very rushed day, reminding me that although Indonesia has an amazing culture and we have a good life here, but Jakarta is still a difficult place to live. 

The protests ended midday and all of the drivers went on strike, leaving the roads empty when I returned to school after work.  What took 100 minutes in the morning only took 15 minutes in the afternoon.