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“Where are you guys from?”  This question was the first one put to us by students when we visited an English class at Santa Ursula in Jakarta.  When we asked to see the dorm room of one of the student boarders at Regina Pacis in Solo, her spontaneous response was “It’s really messy.”  These experiences along with observing students sitting on the floor in circles eating and talking during their breaks  made it clear that Indonesian teenagers and American teenagers have some things in common.

On a deeper level the sense of unity was evident as we noted the familiar Serviam logo everywhere—on uniforms, pins on students’ shirt collars, on the signs identifying all three of the schools we visited.  The people we met were curious to know what we thought of the weather and the food.  They seemed disappointed when we commented that, coming as we do from St. Louis, heat and humidity were not a new challenge.  They were gratified that both of us enjoyed most of the food we were served, although we may not have eaten quite as many hot peppers as the natives did.  Won’t we also want to know if visitors enjoy our native foods: toasted ravioli and Ted Drewes?

During the time we were there Indonesia was preparing to celebrate independence day.  They became an independent nation on August 17, 1945.   The presidential election that took place just before our visit was being contested in the courts by the loser; something very much on the minds of many we talked to.  Celebration of Independence Day, contested elections taken to court, again, familiar territory for us.   Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and the third most populous democracy in the world.  The challenges of geographic distance and of diversity of population are another parallel to our own American experience.

Our visit was so short that we were only able to visit two cities in Java, only one of 17,000 islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago.   It reminded me of people I’ve met visiting the United States with only enough time to stop in New York and Washington D.C.  We hope that our next visit will allow more opportunities to experience the diversity and beauty of the people and of the country.      by Sr. Peggy Moore, osu

Sister Peggy and I stand waiting in the emigration line at the Jakarta airport surrounded by women completely covered except for their eyes, hands and feet with heavy black cloth.  We knew we were beginning an adventure that would offer us new experiences and expanded perspectives.  The women in the immigration line with us were visiting from Saudi Arabia; rarely did we see such dress in Indonesia.  Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and so we frequently saw women with lovely “fashion” scarves of bright colors and beautiful design covering their heads.  We heard the call to prayer imitate form the many mosque five times a day including the predawn call from the mosque across the street from the Santa Ursula, our sister school in Jakarta.  One of the largest mosques in the world is located directly across the street from the school and the Cathedral of Jakarta.  We set off on our first day to visit the mosque with the simple directions from our guests that we should to go to the crosswalk, push the button and cross the street.  We found our way to the crosswalk, pushed the button and waited for the traffic to stop, it did not.  Luckily there was a couple on the other side of the street also intent on crossing so we followed their example, put out you hand as if ordering traffic to stop and start off, cars whizzed in front of us and behind us as we forage our way across and we emerged safely on the other side.  Once at the mosque we entered tentatively, signage in English was at a minimum, and after a few false starts we found our way to the guest’s center.  Along the way we were treated graciously even when we unwittingly entered the main prayer area where non-Muslims are not allowed.              by Mrs. Rosemary Kunz