-By Sarah Quaraishi- Imagine living in a garbage dump full of makeshift huts made of bubble wrap and broken tires. This image is not far off from the small village surrounding Sekolah Kami (Our School), an Indonesian school that is a two hour drive from the heart of the capital, Jakarta.
I am not implying that all of Indonesia is devastatingly poor; in fact, many parts of Jakarta are quite beautiful. The roads are full of people on colorful motorcycles and in tiny, blue cars called “tuk tuks” in the native Bahasa language. The areas outside of downtown have towering trees and vendors selling traditional clothes and exotic fruits on every street corner.
For two weeks in August on a family trip, living at the Fraser residence in the heart of Jakarta was a dream. There was an outdoor pool overlooking the city, a relaxing spa, and food service at the restaurant called “Relish.” My favorite museum was the Puppet Museum where we saw many sculptures and cloth puppets made thousands of years ago. It was amazing to see that these structures had survived this long and are still relevant to Indonesian culture.
A few days before it was time to leave, I went to Sekolah Kami with my sister, family friends, and an American woman, Amy, who volunteers as a teacher at the school. When we arrived, I was astonished at how little these people lived with, but the children’s enthusiasm for school and education moved me. The boys and girls were eager to learn English and math during school, and they practiced their skills with my sister and me. Through communicating with them, I learned some Bahasa, like “pintu” (door) and “keluar” (exit). Their vigor and passion for learning was infectious. I know sometimes myself and other Winsor girls unknowingly take our amazing education for granted, but seeing these students made me realize that I should be thankful for my intelligent teachers and peers.
As Winsor girls, I believe it is of utmost importance to gain international awareness of how people live in other parts of the world and to use our privilege to help those who do not have the same opportunities – the global studies courses that we take in our junior year help us to understand the severity of worldwide problems. It is our global responsibility to help children gain an education and break the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Someday, I hope to teach at Sekolah Kami as a volunteer like Amy and give back to a community that may not have the most wealth but definitely has the biggest hearts.