Sunday, March 1, 2009


Today at Taring Padi we played badminton. For the past two weeks the Tuesday class has been quiet. Many of the children have been busy with other things. While they still come to the library to read books, the Tuesday class has been conflicting with other activities. Which, of course, is to be expected sometimes. The children have a variety of activities in Sembungan village. Several of them have recently been rehearsing for a gamelan performance. Most of them frequently have activities at the mosque. Others are busy babysitting their younger siblings while their parents are working. And some of them just want to take the day off to play.

At the library, however, there are still always things to do, and I take advantage of a quiet day to work with one or two children who do come to clean up the library, organize, and like today, catalogue new books arrived from America. After our hard work, we grab the badminton rackets to play a game of badminton in the yard in front of Taring Padi, and wait for the sun to go down.

Late afternoon is an excellent time of day in Sembungan village. By this time the heat has cooled down a bit and the sky is a deep red-orange. The neighbors are freshly bathed and outside, conversing and enjoying the last light part of the day. Many of the villagers stroll over to Taring Padi, the ibu's (women) holding their freshly powdered babies, an older woman with a new batch of betel nut leaf stuffed in her bottom lip as she sits on a swing and watches our rackets fly. The birdie of the badminton game swoops in the air as Bulan lets out her roaring laugh, two butterflies dancing around the birdie as it soars. A man strolls over in his sarong with his small child to return a book to the library, exchanging it for a new one, while another woman comes with a bag of jewelry and other trinkets to sell to her neighbors. It is peaceful in Sembungan village at this time of day, as we play badminton at Taring Padi until the birdie and butterflies are no longer visible, until the old woman with her betel nut leaf strolls home, and the sounds of the call to prayer (maghrib) echo into the night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


What are birthday traditions like in different parts of the world? In Indonesia, individual birthdays are not as big of a deal as they are in say, America. My birthday memories in America include birthday parties where all my schoolmates were invited, presents were exchanged, cakes were eaten, and games were played. As a child, a birthday was a big deal for me. A birthday was something to share with everyone else, a day where I became the star. For my birthday this year, I decided to throw a birthday party with the children at the Taring Padi library. I did not do this, however, to become the center of attention, but rather, I thought it would be a fun way to share some of my own traditions with the kids, and have an excuse to throw a party!!!

For the party we played dress-up with wigs and various costumes, which the kids absolutely loved. Then we drew tails to play 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey', a traditional birthday game from my childhood, only this time it was 'Pin the Tail on the Dog'. We also played a game where the kids had to throw a ball through the nose of a clown, and then had a bit of balloon mayhem, where there were more balloons than children and we had to keep all of the balloons from touching the ground. So much fun! We didn't have a cake or candles, but we had some yummy snacks including rambutan, a hairy Indonesian fruit similar to lychee, which is currently in season and for sale on the streets everywhere.

The biggest surprise for me on this day was that the kids had gotten together beforehand, and prepared some 'birthday presents' for me. Wrapped and everything. I did not expect this at all! The presents were wrapped in traditional birthday paper, and inside recycled food boxes I discovered a huge variety of little jewels and gems, earrings, hair clips, pencils, handphone decorations, key chains, notebooks, and even a couple of motorbike stickers! Very, very sweet. Their letters included in the boxes touched me so much, wishing me a good year to come, a long life, happiness, success... all addressed to 'Kak Emilia', or, big sister Emilia.

It's been over a year now that I have been actively involved with the Taring Padi library. New children show up every day, and the old ones from before still stick around. It's a wonderful group of children, and we are lucky to have created our own little learning community. The kids are fun, sweet, eager to learn, and of course, love to play and have fun. What more could one ask for? It's a wonderful job to take on, and there are new discoveries every day!

Drawing Class

Ucup has been teaching a children's drawing class in the library on Sunday afternoons. Here are some of the pictures from his class!!