Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes! This is what we were singing with the children of the village Sibisa during their English lesson.
Our research brought us to the village of Sibisa to do an interview with Juita Manurung. During our interview it came to light that Juita finds the LGBTQ, women, and children rights very important. At the same time she is pro conserving and revitalising the Batak culture. She is trying to bring back the Batak culture in villages, such as Sibisa, as she feels the people there have lost their connection with the culture.
In her own village Juita teaches the children English, Bataknese and the TorTor, the Batak dance. During our time in Sibisa we joined Juita with her classes. This meant for us that we were teaching the children some English. Which is of course most effectively done by singing the song: Head, shoulders, knees and toes and doing the moves. Next to this we showed the children some objects and asked them what colour they were, or what you would call it in English. In return they taught us some colours in Bahasa.
After the English class was done the dance class started. Naturally we joined. And of course we had no idea what we were doing. You see, besides going out in Breda we are not very skilled dancers. Much to the amusement of the villagers that had started to notice our silly attempts at the TorTor. Perhaps the TorTor may look easy, but every movement has a meaning to it. Trying to communicate this message is actually very hard. That, and the fact that we are five 20 year old students joining a class of nine year olds.
As the day ended we had learned something from them and they learned something from us. It was a great day of experiencing new things that were useful for our research. But more importantly, it has opened our eyes to how much people can achieve with very limited means.
Written by: Laura Ensink & Rozemarijn Pool