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Unity in Diversity: The First School-Wide Indonesian Independence Day in the History of BAIS

Author: Melissa Budijono (‘23)

Singing the national anthem, playing traditional games, and eating traditional food together all make up the seventeenth of August, which is Indonesia's Independence day. For many Indonesians, Independence Day is a celebration of diversity. Unity in diversity (bhinneka tunggal ika), Indonesia’s national motto, is a great representation of BAIS.

August 16, 2022, marked BAIS’ first school-wide celebration of the Indonesian Independence Day from 2008. As an international school located in Bandung, Indonesia, there are many students of different ethnicities and cultures who attend BAIS. It seemed more special because of how the other students of cultures like Korean, American, or Taiwanese also contributed to this celebration with the Indonesians.

Photo Courtesy of Clarine Tantowi

Ibu Yohana Panjaitan, one of the Bahasa Indonesian teachers at BAIS, remarked that “This progress was extraordinary from something that hasn’t happened before to actually happening, and I appreciate Mr. Julian for taking the initiative to start this new tradition and a key mover to make BAIS’ very own, special Indonesian Independence celebration.”

Pak Willy Dhae, the Indonesian Civics and Survey teacher, said that the main point of celebrating this Indonesian Independence Day was to show a sense of togetherness or “rasa kebersamaan.” He hopes that since this is the first Indonesian Independence Day celebration at BAIS, it will continue as a tradition for the next school years. As he mentions what Mr. Travis Julian, the principal, said during the start of the ceremony during the celebration, “It’s good to show respect to the host country [of this international school located in Indonesia].”

Photo Courtesy of Clarine Tantowi

Ibu Yohana further said that she was proud to be able to celebrate Indonesia’s Independence Day and be able to be part of the committee that planned it. She also mentioned how this celebration was unique and different from other Indonesian Independence Day celebrations because of how Indonesia was celebrated by many countries in BAIS, which shows BAIS’ true spirit.

Soojeong Kim (‘23), a Korean student, said that it was really fun to play with the kites as it has been a long time since she played it during her childhood. As she also celebrates Korean Independence Day, she says that it was interesting to see the contrast between the two and how the Indonesian Independence Day celebration at BAIS included the many tribes that Indonesia has and the different traditional cultures unique to their own games, languages, and dances, like the Sundanese and Balinese dance performances.

However, a few people expressed their opinions on improvements and plans for next year’s Indonesian Independence Day celebration held at BAIS. Pak Willy suggested a few more games like panjat pinang, enggrang, and tarik tambang, which Felisia Prawirawidjaja (23’), a new student, also mentioned. She also said that she thought BAIS’ way of celebrating allowed students to have more fun compared to the previous schools she’s been to because students could decide for themselves whether they wanted to join the games or watch other people playing and still be engaged.

Photo Courtesy of Clarine Tantowi

Although everything was well thought out, Ibu Yohana said that this year’s celebration was a sudden project. Next year, they will hopefully have more time to plan and arrange the celebration. She hopes that the event will be longer and that students will be more involved next year since there will hopefully be more games.

Ibu Yohana said that this celebration is not only a tradition but to show the essence of Indonesian culture, and students can be more interested and learn by watching more cultural performances or having other sessions involving batik. As Pak Willy also said, it is important for the students to understand Indonesian culture better and the significance of the meanings of why we play the games and the history behind it.

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