Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Student Needs

Occasionally, I receive requests for my books by email from Indonesian students. I know that I have received at least one such request from someone at the Universitas Si Singamangaraja near Si Borongborong. I decided, therefore, to grab this opportunity to bestow a copy of Legacy in cloth on that University for their library.

On June 23, we stopped the car at a wing of offices and I transferred the book very quickly and unceremoniously (it was late and we were still far from our destination of Parapat) to a certain boru Si Aloha from Parbaba on Samosir Island who agreed to give it to the library – and also to send me a receipt by email. 

There is a tremendous hunger here for information and an equally tremendous lack of means to acquire it. This had been impressed on me strongly in Muara (on June 22) when my presentation to Ompu Josua (one of the weavers on the two-page spread in the front of Legacy; see blog The Muara weavers in the opening photo) had become engulfed by students from the Tourism School (SMK Negeri I Muara) next door.  

As soon as the little ceremony with Ompu Josua was completed, one of the teachers cornered me and asked for a book for the school. I could hardly refuse! What an opportunity to bring the importance of weaving to the attention of a large group of young people. Studying tourism, they could integrate the revival of the weaving arts with the potentials that tourism offers. I made the presentation in the name of the Indonesian Heritage Society. 

It all led to the delivery of a little speech to the school in the front yard, many photographs and requests for autographs (little wonder; the school principal had compared me to the authors of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter!)

Later, by chance, we had lunch in the same little restaurant where the principal, Mr. Silalahi, was eating. He impressed upon us, over and over again, the need for reading materials and support of all kinds, and if we would please help his students and his school. It culminated in a plan between him and Mas Nashir to make an exhibition of the photographs of the presentation to the school – and perhaps of the Back to the Villages project in general.

It is also resulting in this plea: if any readers of this blog would like to assist, one of the girls in the school, exceptionally bright and speaking the best English of them all, came up to me to say that her parents could not afford her school fees. The principal explained that she would only be able to continue if she received external assistance. She broke my heart. School fees, given the differentials in wealth and currency between North and South, represent a very small financial investment with gigantic potential returns.

See Back to the Villages - the map!

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