Captivated by Jakarta
Jakarta, Indonesia – it’s a world away from Minnesota and that’s just why
Jennifer ’95 and Travis ’96 Barringer love it so much. This family-centered, fun-loving
couple decided it was time to broaden their horizons and open up the world
to themselves and their two girls, Maggie, 7, and Ellie, 5.
With tearful goodbyes to family and friends, they hopped on a plane for 30 hours and set down new roots in Indonesia’s capital city – at least for a couple of years.
“The thing we most want to gain from this is a growth experience for our family,” Travis says. “We want to share travel experiences as a family that most people only dream of. It’s a unique opportunity for educators who wish to make an impact on the children we teach.”
Travis and Jennifer are fourth- and fifth-grade teachers, respectively, at the Jakarta International School, which educates children from about 60 countries. They live in housing provided by the school, with fellow teachers from all over the world as their neighbors and friends. Their girls also attend the school, in kindergarten and second grade.
“We have students who have lived all over,” Jennifer says. “It’s not strange to hear of a student whose mom is from Germany, dad is from Australia, was born in South Africa, spends summers in Canada and spends the school year in Indonesia. That is just how it is.”
Learning to speak Indonesian, sampling the cuisine, adjusting to having a full-time housekeeper and nanny, traveling to Bali and Hong Kong, picking up on social differences like not publicly reprimanding children – it’s all part of the cultural immersion and discovery. In fact, the Barringers agree the culture shock hasn’t been as severe as they expected, but they knew going into it they would be pushed and challenged.
“I think I’m as much a shock for people as anyone is to me,” Travis says, laughing. “I’m 6-foot-6 and big. I meet up with someone who doesn’t see me coming in the grocery store and the mouth drops and the eyes go wide as saucers. It’s something I get a kick out of every single time.”
They’re not without a few comforts from home – a Halloween party and holiday dinners with other families in their neighborhood, Skype Internet calls and e-mails with friends and family, dance classes for the girls and a U.S. presidential election party.
“Celebrating the election of an African-American U.S. president at a Mexican restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia, was pretty humbling,” Travis says.
The Barringers credit their 1995 May Seminar to Europe with sparking their love of culture, travel and global awareness. Travis may have proposed on the Eiffel Tower, but the trip changed their lives in other ways too.
“We saw education in a different light. We had an opportunity to visit several schools throughout Western Europe and see the value of education outside of the Midwest,” Travis says. “That was an amazing experience and one of the reasons we’re here in Indonesia today. We knew that the experiences for us was formative. We knew this was something we wanted to provide for our children.”
And now they’re doing just that.
“I want our girls to see the world as beautiful and wonderful, but also doable,” Jennifer says. “Talking with colleagues who have taught internationally, they have friends and contacts all over the world. How cool is that? The international community is large, but so connected. I want my girls to have those connections.”
It’s about opening their eyes, challenging their minds and energizing their spirits.
“Travis and I are grounded, solid, big-picture people,” Jennifer says. “We try to do exciting things, yet are always the people who we were raised to be. Concordia was a part of that, a part of who we are, a part of where we’re from. We know who we are and what we believe in.”