April 10th-14th was the National WORDS Competition, an annual English Speech and Talent Competition held by the Indonesia ETA Program. WORDS was one of the highlights of my experience last year, and it was again this year.
All of the performances were fantastic. The topic was “Three Wishes,” and the range of speeches that came out of that idea were inspiring. Students spoke about personal wishes, and global wishes, and everything in between. Their talents were just as incredible as their speeches. Students sang, danced, performed screen printing on stage… I don’t think I ever smile so broadly as I do when I am at WORDS. Part of me hopes that if I am ever in Indonesia outside of the Fulbright Program that I will be asked to be a judge, so that I can have the privilege of witnessing such talent, and hope that I never end up being assigned to that task, because I have no idea how the judges are able to select on winner from so many fabulous students.
In the evenings, there were planned activities for the students and the ETAs. The first night was Laser Tag and Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf. It was even my first time playing laser tag, and I’m fairly certain everyone involved had a blast. The second night’s activity was ice skating, but due to traffic only about half of the students were able to get to the rink before it closed for hockey practice. Sadly, the girls from Gorontalo were among those who weren’t able to make it in time, but they headed off to supper with their new friends, and seemed to have a grand time nonetheless. To me, the time the students spend with one another reflects what is really so magical about WORDS: that it is an opportunity for students from all across this diverse archipelago to meet and exchange their own unique cultures, and develop friendships with people they might never have had the chance to meet otherwise.
My student from MAN Model, Noni, was extremely nervous about speaking in front of such a large crowd, and meeting so many new people, but she performed her speech bravely and beautifully, and warmed up to students who would become new friends rather quickly. I was very proud of her, and I’m so glad she got to have this experience.
I may have mixed feelings about coming back to live in Jakarta next year, but there is one part of returning with this program that I know will be 100% amazing, and that is WORDS. No words can adequately express the privilege it has been to attend not one, but two WORDS competitions, and I look forward to the undeserved honor of being present for a third.
(Note: The only photo that is mine is that of myself and Noni together. Thank you to AMINEF for the rest of them!)