Just Another Day In Indonesia…

Dies Natalis


When I first met my counterparts way back in Malang, one of the first things they told me about was Dies Natalis, or, our school’s birthday/anniversary. “We would like you to help prepare for when it’s time for our school birthday. Usually our English Club puts on a drama.” Ok, no problem, I thought – though I was a little confused. Who celebrates school birthdays? Turns out that’s quite common here and many schools have a few days of activities to commemorate their institution each year. My school goes above and beyond. We have 7 full days of activity (Monday right through Sunday, no weekend here!) with one last activity the following Saturday evening. And during that time there’s no class, just a variety of competitions and performances from the students…with teachers running the activities, judging, and occasionally participating.

Dies Natalis (also spelled dis natalis?) officially begins tomorrow (Monday) at school but we have been preparing for months. Our English Club will perform a drama, the Indonesian folk tale of Timun Mas and Buto Ijo, directed by yours truly. The kids have been working hard on memorizing their lines, finding costumes, and creating props and scenery. Our big debut (and only showing) will be on Thursday – Happy Indonesian Thanksgiving! We will also have an English language singing competition (“English Idol”) and an English story telling competition for junior high school students. To kick things off, we have a mural painting competition and a school magazine competition (which basically means classes can create posters depicting a theme and the best one wins). Classes also compete for the cleanest classroom award – a brilliant idea, if you ask me. My 11th graders are MESSY. And for my grand finale on Saturday I will be joining one of my classes to dance Gangnam Style on stage in front of the whole school. Dancing is not my forte (understatement), but after hours and hours of practice, I’ve got it down. Check out the video here – we are copying the dance that this flash mob did at Cornell University – though we will be adding a short skit as an introduction before the dance.



Here’s a few photos of the prep…


These students are part of my counterpart’s homeroom class so she is responsible for helping them prepare for Dies Natalis. This is the same class that invited me to join them to dance Gangnam Style and seeing as I am not a homeroom teacher, I’ll be adopting them/rooting for them to win the competitions this week. Here, the students (plus my cp and her kids) and prepping their poster for the school magazine contest.


One of my favorite things about my school is students get the opportunity to paint murals at school every year. These two too-cool-for-school kids are also in Bu Chris’ homeroom class (IPS 2). Note that the mural is not painted yet – the red color is from the red tarp protecting this masterpiece from the rain.


The theme for this year’s mural competition is “character building” which is a frequent theme in Indonesian schools…but I’ll save that for another blog post. Last year’s was Environmental Education so the back of our school is covered with pictures and slogans to encourage students to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Stop Global Warming. This year’s murals will adorn the south parking lot and I’m excited to see students’ interpretations of what is important in one’s character.


Author: Sarah

I'm Sarah and I like many things starting with the letter "S," including (but not limited to) Seattle, springtime, summer, sunshine, swimming, sunrises, surprises, and sociology. For anything else you want to know, you will have to read my blog!

2 thoughts on “Dies Natalis

  1. Yay! Love the new posts. I’m taking it all in as I read up on what you’ve been up to lately. I just love the kids’ faces and hearing about their activities. You are very blessed to have this time with them. We are supposed to arrive in Jakarta summer of 2013 and I’m working hard to get everything together. Thank you for the follow-up email you sent a while back. That was cool. 🙂

    I would love your thoughts on how I could prepare my kids for this big change coming up next summer. What surprised you the most? Feel free to email me if you are more comfortable with that. We have tons of questions about everything from should we ship our own toilet paper to questions about their medical facilities. We are super excited about living in Indonesia for a while! Any insights? Surprising laws or differences I should reinforce before we go?

    I have three kids, one is a Sr. in high school now but she will be traveling with us for the first year. Are there any English speaking universities in Jakarta that you know of? The other is currently a freshman, he will go to JIS I presume. I’ve heard wonderful things about the school but nothing specifically about the high schooler, other than it is good. And then our youngest son who is currently in second grade. He’s a soccer loving kid. I hope soccer is a big part of fun for the kids in Indonesia. I’m not certain but I have been told it is.

    You are doing great, Sarah- I enjoy your posts and think you are making a difference!


  2. Hi Sarah…glad to read your posts again!! Don’t hesitate to write anything about our school and me. You know me so well.. I’ll always be happy to know something I didn’t see. 😉

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