About the Author: Michele Cenzer serves as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Jakarta.
Today a colleague and I took a 43 student choir, their principal, vice principal, and two teachers to the airport to welcome the Secretary of State to Indonesia. They all come from an elementary school, Menteng Elementary School 1, that President Obama attended when he lived in Indonesia. Ever since the President’s inauguration, when the school hosted a congratulatory celebration, the students have been excited. Today they were both excited and nervous.
Working a visit like this means having to think about a lot of little details. We made sure to eat lunch along the way—it was going to be a long day. I brought on-the-go stain remover just in case; you never know when hot sauce might land in the middle of a kid’s shirt. Luckily, everything went great, especially since the kids were dressed in beautiful traditional green batik.
First things first, we took the kids off the bus and straight to the restroom. There would be no time for last minute breaks when the Secretary arrived. Then, we waited around for awhile during last minute security checks. When they were done, we tested the sound system. Everything worked. The weather was hot and humid, so we went to the VIP lounge to test our rainy day scenario and take a break.
Before the Secretary arrived we all got in place, trying to stay calm. The plane landed and people started getting off the plane. The press were gathered behind stanchions. The Secretary descended from the plane and met the Ambassador, his daughter, and several Indonesian VIPs. After the formal greetings, she came straight to get beautiful flowers from two of the students, Kei and Sheila. Secretary Clinton then headed to the choir. This was their moment. The children sang a beautiful traditional song, ending with them waving both the American and Indonesian flags. The Secretary chatted briefly with several of the children and had her picture taken with them. And then she walked to her waiting car, got in, and drove off to her first meeting. What an amazing time!