By: Kinanti Suarsih*)
It is not easy for being treated as ‘the others’ in a place we live in. Moreover it happens in educational area—a place for youngsters get educated to create a brighter future. Life has been very difficult when the teachers keep treat us differently just because our religion differences.
It was all started when I got to vocational high school in my village. Actually I believe that school is my second home. I always respect my teacher as my parents and my friends as my own brothers. But life twists. In nearly three years some of my teachers looked and treated me differently just because our religion differences. This experience really drills deep in my head until today.
I, The Sunda Wiwitan People
It was Monday, 16th of July 2012, my first time attended the new school. I really felt enthusiastic. Meeting with new friends and new teachers always be pleasurable. But reality said the contrary. I remember the time of our classroom teacher entered the classroom. I remember the whole class attentions are focused to him. I really remember our first greeting-introduction-impression. My teacher told us—based from absent list—to introduce ourselves and asked about our hobbies and the things we like.
It was my turn and I already prepared the answer. I introduced myself as the way it is. But suddenly it turns a little bit awkward. I was not been asked about my hobbies. My teacher directly asked, “Are you not a moslem?” Probably he asked it by judging into my outfit. I was not wearing a hijab like other female students.
“What is your religion?” He asked me again and I started to feel like being cornered and interrogated.
“It is Sunda Wiwitan, Sir.” While replying I also looked into class surroundings. The shock was drawing on their faces. And I felt shocked, too. Was my answer wrong? From elementary into junior high school I have not been the shock that draws in their faces after I say that I am the Sunda Wiwitan (Indonesian ancient religion).
Sunda Wiwitan ? That may be the question that is on their minds at the time. But eventually I soon found myself being in the environment of people who do not know the people who have faith like us .
Started from that event there were many questions addressed to myself about Sunda Wiwitan from my friends and my teacher. I admit that I feel happy to answer all those questions but on the other side was I feel like an alien that just crashed my UFO in earth. What is Sunda Wiwitan? Is there really exists that kind of religion? What is the holy book? Where and how is the worshipping activities? Even kind of foods that we consume were also they asked.
Sunda Wiwitan, I replied, is a belief of Sundanese that still preserve its ancestor traditions. Some claimed that it is a local religion. We do prayer in everywhere and every time. And about the food, we also eat what every people eat like rice and whatsoever.
I am just like you.
Later that day, I met with other subject teachers that teaches my class. And so there goes another question loop they threw but I already prepared. There is a person that I will remember for the rest of my life. He is my civic educational teacher. In our first meeting, he suddenly call me with ‘Konghuchu’. At that time I didn’t get what he means. After called me like that, he questioned my religion. I replied concisely, “It is Sunda Wiwitan, Sir.” The question ended there. He did not asked me further.
And in every I met him whether in classroom or around the school, he always called me like that. Perhaps he did it as a jokes, as a special name to me to build teacher-student relationships way more close and nice. I always tried to think positively but in the end I knew that He called every female students who did not wear a hijab with ‘Konghuchu’. He keep doing that until I graduated.
Through the time, my hesitance grew bigger. It reaches its peak point at Halal Bihalal (school’s gathering after Ied Day). At that time every teacher had been in the front of shcool’s yard. After through some ceremonial events, every students form a line to ask and give forgiveness to the teachers and vice versa. On my way through the line, I met him, my beloved civic educational teacher. Another surprise occurred. When I wanted to make Salam (greeting in Arabic word which is used by moslem, he asked me, “Are Konghuchu (religion from China) allowed to make Salam with the others?” He asked me while giving annoying creepy smile. Starting from that day I really dislike everything about him a lot. I quit from the line and ran to my class with itchy anger sad heart. Later I understand the means of every single annoying thing he did when I am in university.
After school I told my parents what was happened that day. In the first they got mad but they advised me not to treat him with the way he treated me, keep respect him to make the problem more complicated.
Art Through Their Heart
Getting fed up because different treatment from some teachers, I started to find a way to make myself accepted and appreciated. I think being kind and humble is not enough. Being active in extracurricular might be a bridge to their heart. So I joined Karawitan (music) and Traditional Sundanese dance.
With that motive, I trained myself harder than my friends. But not only because the motive itself. I really like dancing. In Sunda Wiwitan, art of dance is a cultural heritage that well-nourished especially for females.
Though the existence of Karawitan extra curricula in my school still being debated among my teachers. Not every extra curricula coordinator accepts it. It seems that this Karawitan disliked by some teachers but I don’t know about the reason exactly. The good news is Karawitan and traditional dance are like the ‘something that should’ included in every shcool’s graduation ceremony so it has been a strong arguments to make those extracurricular exists. And I feel happy because in time after I graduated, Karawitan and Sundanese traditional dance were officially recognized.
I always be invited to dance in every school’s ceremony that need traditional dance. Not just for school events, my dance team ever has been a delegation from Kuningan to compete in West Java dance competition. This achievement makes me got many support from my friends, especially about my true-self. Fort this goodness and kindness that they gave to me, I assure I will never forget.
These experiences really give me so many lesson. It is not easy for someone that treated differently as ‘the others’ to get fairness, the righteous treatment. Saying about diversity is easy. But pretty words are winds. When we are the ‘real deal’, we have to be strong and courageous to face it with clear minds. Of course it is not enough for being strong on the inside but we have to make it happen through hard work, smart moves and patience. I learn not to feel so desperate and hopeless in fight for the moral values I believe, although I am kind of emotional typical of person.
I too realized that keep my head on while they treat me down is not an easy ticket. But somehow on the contrary it is not impossible to make it true. I believe that in every place there will be a good people that will always there to support. So that I believe that in the end you will deserve what you struggle for.
I remember about my lecturer quote. Humanity, he said, will always find its way. But that way will be good for nothing unless we walk through it. I also see the importance of respecting each other, even more the person may like my teacher that treat me so soundly as I told before--the type of person that every ‘the others’ like me is should not on their sight. But overall in my vocational high school’s life, in my small step over those past three years, I see many people with beautiful minds telling me that the world is full of diversities. Together with them I believe the world is a nice living planet because of those diversity.
Yes. Diversity is just good.
*) first semester ISIF student from Syari’ah Economy department
Artikel Mahasiswa Prodi Ekonomi Syari'ah