Students at SDN Menteng 1 Elementary School in Central Jakarta have prepared welcome gifts for when their favorite alumnus, US President Barack Obama, visits Indonesia in March.
A seven-year-old student named Nanda told TV One that she wanted to give him bakso, or meatball soup, one of Obama’s favorite foods in Indonesia.
“I want to say, hello my name is Nanda and I want to give Obama a bowl of bakso,” Nanda said.
Another student named Bunga had a different gift in mind.
“I’m very happy that he is coming because he used to study here. I want to give him rambutan fruit,” Bunga said.
Obama studied at the Menteng elementary school in the 1970’s after his mother, Ann Dunham, moved to Indonesia with her Indonesian husband and Obama’s step father, Lolo Soetoro. Prior to studying in Menteng, Obama, fondly known as Barry, studied at the Santo Fransiskus Asisi Elementary School in Tebet for three years. In 1971, Obama returned to the US to live with his grandparents in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Obama’s ties to Jakarta have lent him some support among Indonesians. The 2008 US Election and his inauguration in January 2009 were widely covered by the Indonesian press and sparked “Obama mania” in Indonesia. A number of national television stations broadcast both events live. Obama’s childhood friends and teachers set up a huge screen at the school to celebrate their former student’s victory.
In December 2009, the Friends of Obama organization erected a bronze statue of a young Obama in Taman Menteng. However, the statue triggered controversy and last week the governor of Jakarta decided to move it to his elementary school.