Butet Manurung: The Advocate of Indigenous Indonesian

“I remember when I was little; I loved to read story books. Then there were a lot of questions in my head: Do my friends out there like to read books too? If they have books, can I exchange books with them? It started from these innocent questions that I started a library at home. At that time I was, maybe, in the second grade. I invited my friends to read; I took only a few cents per person, but it was voluntary, some would pay and some would not. Some would borrow books but never returned them, and after a few years I ran out of books.”, recalled Butet when she first learned to organize other people to create something positive. Blessed with a smart mind, achieving in many subjects from math to sports has inspired Butet to help her friends that are falling behind. It was here that her talent for teaching slowly developed. “My friends would ask me to be the teacher, maybe because they did not want the class to be boring. I asked them to play ‘Teachers and Classrooms’. They became my students and I was their teacher. I created a few play models such as playing quizzes or discussion groups. Usually I would tempt them with the prize of a cake or candy as an incentive. I did that from elementary through high school. Until I was a teacher for my students in Rimba, I realize that my childhood experience being a teacher was very valuable. I had a rich creativity to teach.” As an educator, Butet holds a principle that a good teacher is someone who is able to learn from their students, and also from the weaknesses of teachers before them. She really applied this principle when she was a teacher of the Anak Dalam Tribe in the depths of Jambi. Butet taught reading and writing through an anthropological approach. Butet learnt from them the language and wisdom of the Rimba People.