Cultural education at Nowra's St John the Evangelist

Students from St John the Evangelist High School recently got a cultural education they will remember for a long time.

Indonesian Consul General Pak Heru Subolo and wife Sinta Subolo along with other special guests visited the school.

Consul of Information, Social and Culture Zani Murina, two assistants to the consulate Joanne Hajjar and Pran Radika and 15 members of an angklung (traditional Indonesian instrument) group took part in the day’s activities.

The event started with a traditional dance originating from Sumatra.

The Consul General then addressed the students and staff.

He thanked the school for their support in studying Bahasa Indonesia and encouraged the students to continue their studies within languages.

He offered assistance if needed to promote language and offered more educational opportunities to the school.

The Consul General spoke about the various opportunities and career paths available when studying a language.

He highlighted the importance of connecting with our closest neighbour and maintaining a healthy bridge of friendship.

Consul General Heru Subolo talked about his gratitude and how humbled he was that the St John’s school community was passionate about studying Indonesian language, culture, religion and tradition.

He thanked Lisa Cooper, the Indonesian teacher, for her ongoing enthusiasm and passion for teaching Bahasa Indonesia within the secondary school.

Furthermore, the special guest thanked principal Sandra Hogan for her support of running the language at both junior and senior level all the way to year 12 HSC.

The students watched a short film about Indonesia including the importance of learning the language, culture, religion, various parts of the archipelago.

The gathering heard from Jay Bellwood, an ex-student from St John who now studies at Gaja Mada University and Joanne Hajjar who now works as an assistant to the consulate.

Both guests had completed Indonesian at high school, university and exchanged within the country.

The angklung (a traditional Indonesian instrument) group were invited to take the stage and they performed a short piece.

Next students were invited to have a go at playing the angklung under the guidance of Amos Kurniadi a music teacher.

Upon closing our session, the school’s 12 students thanked our guests for attending while Maya Willis, year 12 student who has studied Indonesian since year 8 and successful participant in obtaining a scholarship to Yogyakarta earlier in the year, delivered an impressive impromptu speech in Bahasa Indonesia, astounding our guests, students and staff of her fluency.

The guests were presented with gifts.

Lisa Cooper’s (Indonesian teacher) reflections

“It was outstanding to immerse our students into a rare opportunity to practice their speaking skills with 20 native speakers,” Ms Cooper said.

“I am very proud of the students ability to communicate.

“The students were very humbled, excited and eager to learn more about the guests culture, religion and language while chatting.

“I was excited to bring this opportunity to a rural area as we are very limited in Indonesian resources.

‘I would like to continue to promote Indonesian language learning within the St Johns community and promote more events such as this one.

“Numbers in Indonesian classes continue to rise, becoming more popular and students are reaping the benefits of learning a second language.

“It was great to watch our students make friends with our guests and it’s exciting to see what future opportunities will be presented for them.”

What the students thought 

India Richardson-Thornton (year 12)

“Conversations with past students and Indonesian students allowed us to discover more about opportunities which studying Indonesian gives us,” India said.

“Using our language skills allowed us to see the positives of learning a second language, that it is very beneficial

“Pak Heru said we are welcome at the consulate or to call in at any time so the day allowed us to create relationships and opportunities while also being interesting and enjoyable.”

Maya Willis (year 12)

“Living in a rural area means we have limited opportunities for immersing ourselves in Indonesian culture, so the opportunity to converse with native speakers as well as the dance and Angklung performances, was wonderful for all students,” Maya said.

“I hope to continue studying Indonesian at university within a law and international studies degree. Hopefully to spend part of that studying in Jogjakarta, at University Gajah Mada.

“In my opinion, studying a language is extremely important, especially because of the globalised nature of the society we live in.

“Learning a language opens so many more doors for students today, and Bahasa Indonesia especially.

“As Indonesia is one of our closest neighbours, it is vital that we strengthen the friendship between Indonesia and Australia, and understanding Bahasa Indonesia is one of the ways we can do this.

“Pak Heru was very friendly and open with all students, and willing to help anyone who wanted to practice their Indonesian speaking skills.

“It was a great honour that he took the time out of his busy life to travel to Nowra and speak to us about the importance of learning Bahasa Indonesia.”

Joshua Miller (year 12)

“Speaking to Pak Heru Subolo, and many other members of the Consult office was a highlight,” Joshua said.

“Getting to practice indonesian, but talking about the many opportunities that studying Indonesian has given us was positive.

“It was also remarkable to speak to exchange students from Indonesia in their own language who are around the same age as us.

“This ability to communicate allowed us to talk about how different and similar we are, it opens the doors to meeting people you never thought you would.

“The day taught me the true value of learning another language and it's ever growing importance in today's universal society.”

Kaleisha Cowan-Roberts (year 11)

“My study intentions with Indonesian language are directed the same way as my intentions with my future, to be able to learn the most to help others around me,” ” Kaleisha said.

“Indonesian as a language will allow me to expand my own knowledge amongst cultural and ethical beliefs in a systematic understanding of the Indonesian culture.

“Simplistically Indonesian as a language will allow for me to bound my love for medicine and my desire to be the reason to keep one’s life in full swing.

“I hope to finish school and attend university, completing my Doctor of Medicine and then working in international health in Indonesia as well as future connecting myself to my own Aboriginal culture, hence the importance of Indonesian language.

“Languages are to be studied diligently and are a connection between a broad community of people from different backgrounds.

“In my opinion studying a language places you in a better mindset when socialising and critiquing the broader world.

“A language differs your own understanding upon a certain culture and should be studied in regards to further drawing a consentment upon individuality.

“Furthermore, languages create bonds in which are unobtainable when not being able to communicate.

“What I am able to take away from the session is the importance of creating relationships between strangers in which you have similarities and desires to fulfil and that these relationships are foundations for one’s future.”

Principal comment

“Inspired and passionate teachers ensure that students are learning and Lisa Cooper is such a teacher,” principal Sandra Hogan said.

“She has nurtured relationships that change the world for our young people by enabling them to engage with The Consul General Heru Subolo and wife Sinta Subolo, Consul of Information, Social and Culture: Zani Murina, Consulate assistants: Joanne Hajjar and Pran Radika and  members of an angklung group in an authentic manner.

“To have such a rich opportunity to share language and culture was unique experience that was enabled by LIsa’s passion for her students and their learning.”