Dried coconut leaves were hanging in the front yard of SDK Rekas I, Mbeliling Sub-district, West Manggarai Regency. In Manggarai custom, dried coconut leaves are symbols to greet special guests. Under it was a banner saying the inauguration of SDK Rekas I library, collaborating with Rainbow Reading Gardens and Department of Education of West Manggarai. SDK Rekas I is one of the oldest schools in the regency. It was established by a European missionary in 1921. “In 2021, the school will be one century old,” said the principal of SDK Rekas I, Kristina Mina.
Children were making lines to greet the Rainbow Reading Gardens team. Parents also welcomed us, wearing their colorful Manggarai-style sarong. The elders brought a white rooster, local arak, cigarette and money and talked in Manggarai language, and there were clappings from the parents in between the speech.
The team entered the hall, and guests had been seated. They all smiled to us. Children were also seen wearing traditional costumes. So cute!
A few days before the ceremony, I spent a night at the principal’s house. The teachers and students of SDK Rekas I were busy preparing for the inauguration. Ibu Luz, one of the senior teachers in SDK Rekas I, is so high-spirited in education that younger teachers may get jealous of her. She came from Timor, next to the border of Indonesia and East Timor, yet she has been living in West Manggarai for years. Almost everyday, Ibu Luz led the children practicing their traditional dances and singing in English, to be performed in the ceremony.
The inauguration of the 49th library at SDK Rekas I, West Manggarai was marked by the ribbon-cutting by the principal, founder of Rainbow Reading Gardens, and representative of the Education Agency of West Manggarai.
Children, parents, teachers, and principal as well as all the guests were coming inside the library to see their hard works in the past 6 months.
Guests went back to the hall to see the performance as prepared by the teachers of SDK Rekas I. The master of ceremony mentioned that the upcoming vocal group represented Indonesia from Sabang to Merauke. Children were wearing traditional costumes from Sumatera to Papua. They were singing a song about diversity in Indonesia. ““Perbedaan adalah keindahan jangan jadikan sebagai permusuhan namun persahabatan – Diversity is beauty, so do not make it as a hostility yet as a harmony” is the excerpt of the lyrics. When adults in big cities are busy looking for diversity, children of SDK Rekas I taught us the meaning of tolerance and harmony among that diversity.
Rekas, 23 February 2017