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!!