The privileged are increasingly opting for international schools where students learn the good and the bad of multiculturalism
On United Nations day, flags are displayed representing the
nationalities of the students
‘This is my country. The bule (white people) shouldn’t mess with our country,’ he said, perched precariously on the back of a bench at an international school in Jakarta. Dae Sik was talking about Indonesia. He grew up in Indonesia, but he is technically South Korean. His passport says so, his name says so, and ethnically speaking he is. ‘But, aren’t you Korean?’ I asked. ‘Of course,’ he responded, ‘it’s in my blood.’ As far as he was concerned, nothing he had said was contradictory.
Dae Sik’s high school is a multicultural bubble for expatriate and Indonesian children. Inside the security gates lies a well-maintained, oasis-like campus which belies the bustle and smog of Jakarta. As students flood out of the classrooms at recess, you can hear a Russian teenager speaking fluent, colloquial Indonesian to a classmate; Indian teenagers speaking English with an American accent, then switching to an Indian accent and back again within a matter of seconds, depending on who they are talking to; a Taiwanese teenager speaking English, Mandarin and Indonesian in one sentence. No-one bats an eyelid. It’s just another day at an international school.
When Suharto was president, Indonesian citizens were prevented from attending international schools,