Butet and The Jungle School in Boston
Butet arrived in Boston on April 3, prepared for two events — an in-depth conversation at the Indonesia Center of Harvard’s Kennedy School and an author’s dinner in Boston.
At Harvard on April 4th, Butet met with MA students and PhD candidates from several Boston-area universities, many studying anthropology and sustainable development. Everyone was anxious to hear about Butet’s fieldwork in the jungles of Jambi. As all the students were either Indonesian or very familiar with Indonesia, this was the first audience in America for which Butet did not have to describe where Jambi is located on the map!
Although the tone of this talk was more academic, it was Butet’s heartwarming stories about meeting the Orang Rimba and becoming a part of their community that enthralled the students. They were deeply touched by Butet’s obvious love for the Rimba and her crusade to help them maintain their rights.
Everyone in attendance purchased The Jungle School, and Butet is anxious to hear what they think about the book! The Harvard Program was moderated by Pak Syafi’i Anwar, PhD, Senior Indonesian Research Fellow at the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia at the Harvard Kennedy School.
On April 5th, the St. Botolph Club, Boston’s oldest club supporting the fine arts (primarily painting, sculpture and literature), hosted an intimate author dinner where Butet had a chance to share the story of her adventures with the Orang Rimba with an interested and curious group. There were so many questions about the jungle and the daily activities of the Rimba, Butet hardly had a moment to eat her dinner. Everyone wanted her to have a nice meal after she described eating wild boar and small game in the jungle! Butet looked so beautiful in a black kebaya and batik skirt, it was difficult to believe she was the girl on the motorbike and in the river in the photos she shared. Butet’s transition from “city girl” to “jungle girl” intrigues even the most seasoned travelers!
Again, book sales were brisk and Butet made several good contacts who will help SOKOLA in the future.
Look for Butet next week at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC on April 10 and at Columbia University in New York City on April 12!