In Indonesia, Obama is the pride of the students of the school in Jakarta where he was in class when he was little. [© Bay Ismoyo / AFP]
In Indonesia, Obama is the pride of the students of the school in Jakarta where he was in class when he was little. [Photo: Bay Ismoyo / AFP]

Obama's Indonesian childhood

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Barack Obama represents a new hope for Americans and the world. The 44th president of the United States is also the pride of an Indonesian school in the Menteng district of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, where he attended classes as a child.

In a school in Jakarta

I found on YouTube this report in Jakarta, in Obama's schoolfilmed in early 2008.

I don't want to tell you the pressure for these young Indonesian students... Imagine, a president of the United States wore out his shorts on the same benches as them!

The classes were suspended this Wednesday morning (November 5, 2008), to allow the 250 schoolchildren to follow the electoral evening live. "Obama's example serves us well in motivating students to achieve success."said Senior Deputy Akahmad Solikhin.

But will Barack Obama ever, during his presidency, visit his former Indonesian school, as the principal suggested to the children?

In Indonesia, Obama is the pride of the students of the school in Jakarta where he was in class when he was little. [© Bay Ismoyo / AFP]
In Indonesia, Obama is the pride of the students at the Jakarta school where he attended as a child. [Photo: Bay Ismoyo / AFP]

Four years in Indonesia

Barack Obama lived in Indonesia for four years, from 1967 to 1971. He arrived there at the age of 6, his mother having remarried to an Indonesian. His friends at the time called him "Barry".

During the campaign, these former classmates made the photo below, to express their support. They even went up a fan club Obama.

photo DR

It's funny, this sudden revival of Indonesia's love for America... Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of course called Barack Obama to congratulate him on his victory, and declared, in a press conference "I am confident that we can improve our bilateral relationship."

Funny, too, this testimony from an Indonesian member of parliament, Dewi Asmara Oetojo, who went to the same elementary school as Obama when he was a child: "It's just amazing! At the time, we were so young that we never imagined that he had the qualities of a leader. But he said, "I want to be president. That made us laugh..."

And Oetojo added that he hopes Obama will remember his youth to be "a different American president" and "to allow Westerners to better understand Asians"..

My faith ... "Yes, we can!"


Added 21/12/2008 : It is to Indonesia that Barack Obama will probably reserve his first official trip to a Muslim state. We will have confirmation soon.

  Between Two Journeys

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  1. Indonesia had an "official" infatuation for France ... For a young democracy, with its "weaknesses", the history of France was a path that seemed virtuous. Disappointed (!) or not (?), Indonesia knows today another infatuation ... Probably much more legitimate because they have a school bench worn by a presidential panty.

  2. Since the task that awaits Obama is immense, he could combine politics and multilateral strategy by visiting his old school in Jakarta (joy of children, etc.) but also affirmation of attention, even recognition of other geopolitical spheres....It would also seem that Obama's little Japanese port is waiting for his, still in this same perspective....A tour in Asia, from Indonesia to Japan, why not?

    It's also funny to see all these people wearing a T-shirt with the effigy of Obama, in other times, it was Che guevara...

    anyway, yes, he can 🙂

  3. @ Orion56: It is not only Indonesia, but the whole world that is starting to love America again... Amazing.

    @ Lydie: Yes, from Kenya to Japan, from Honolulu to Jakarta, and all the way to Iraq, everyone is succumbing to Obamania... But he is raising so much hope, that disenchantment is also likely to be great. Nevertheless, he already has a more "international" stature, more open to the world, because of his personal background, than his predecessor.