The International Local Champion

Ertina Priska Erlayas Sebayang 14 Maret 2013


I have heard more than once that they say "God works in mysterious ways," and i have responded to it more than once, that that is an understatement.

If one actually tries to emphasize the indescribable feelings i have, the first time i lay eyes on these photographs made by, not one, but two, once anonymous kids from the furthest most northest once unknown , in words like "proud", or "happy", that too is an understatement.


When she first joined our class this year, Diana was really quiet. Especially among her friends of seven boys and one girl. She often arrives early at school, sweeps the floor, set up the class in such proper order. When her classmates arrives, she's already sitting on her chair, writing her journal again.

If you read her journal, i think you too will figure out that Diana is a compassionate young lady; whe writes about how she misses her mother in Phillipines, how she restrain herself from playing with her friends every other day because she has to take care of her baby sister, how she appreciate small kind gestures of her friend when they cheer her up after getting a bad score in science test. If you were with us everytime she held the camera with her, you too will then know that she's a photography enthusiast.


It was sunny and warm day when we were outside all afternoon at the beach, writing letters, playing around, making sand tunnels, jumping from the rocks into the sea. Diana was holding the camera almost all the time, when out of the blue she asked,

"why are we taking pictures? I like taking pictures, but why?"

I was lucky when she ran into the water a bit to capture one or two moments when her friends found blue starfishes, so I'm allowed to think for an answer,

"So it's possible to keep what we see, the exact way we see it, forever,"

She was happy with the answer, i knew it from her smile.


As we spend almost everyday out and holding the camera, more little angels in forms of children be captivated by their own small island, and thus non-stoppingly captivating whatever they see. For most kids, including that particular local champion, Diana, those days were the first time they held a camera in their small hands.

And ever since we decided to make fotografer harian a routine thing in our school, it became more and more obvious to spot natural talents in these children. Everyday i come home and find exquisite scenery and still life, or just honest, people moments in my camera. I'm telling you, Diana and Eben are only two most excited about it, there are more kids with photography talents in Kawio.

They'll follow you around when you're holding your camera, they'll bug you until you let them look through some pictures in your laptop, and asks technical stuffs like, "the picture is too bright, encik, how do you make it darker before you take the picture?", or "can we take pictures of something moving really fast? Like them jumping into water, or throwing sands," or "how do you make these people and scenes at the back look bad?" And by "bad" they meant "blur". I am no expert in photography, nor have i experienced an enough period of time using SLR cameras to make it legit for me to be a photography teacher, but I was really grateful to be able to answer those questions by example shots and let them play & experiment by themselves.

Until one day it hits me; keeping these spectacular pictures my students have taken would be a kind of crime. Why? It’s like keeping masterpiece of art without letting the artist take credits for their magnum opus. These little artists deserve to get a chance to show their great works to the world. (don't believe me? Click this Jepretan Jemari Jagoan link and be amazed)

When I saw the International Photography Contest held by National Geographic, I did not doubt for a second to send Kawio’s kids’ pictures. Who would've imagined that one of the many pictures I sent to participate in the competition will win the international contest? One or two pictures appear in one of the NatGeo Kids Magazine’s edition will be enough to turn our school into hysterical happiness mode, and children will walk around Kawio with proud faces.  But see, i gave an understatement, not only to the remarkable talents of the children in Indonesia, but to how God works in mysterious ways. I was only aiming for their photos to appearin the magazine, God was aiming higher: international award..


It seems effortless, no? Let them play & experiment, then win an international contest? Well I think i have come to realize, that it is supposed to be easy for them! It's their talent. It's their natural intelligence to be able to captivate visuals in forms of pictures and spontaneous snapshots. It's supposed to be easy, because if it's hard, then it's not their strength. And If we expect them to do things that are not their strength, wouldn't it be oppresing their hidden talents? Letting their true beings not be discovered at all. All these kids need is a chance to shine. Understatingand underestimating them will be our loss.


Not only to Diana Poae and Eben, this victory was a glorious moment for us all! ! It was not merely a trophy, first-page news paper article, and  international recognition of Indonesian kids’ talents, but the fact that there is indeed hope, hidden far insinde our beloved country. There are sparks in the local hearts that are able to revolve into bright inferno, if only they were given the proper rights; the energy, drive, choices, freedom, opportunities, chances, spaces and places, to shine. Local champions are moving forward, people, so we better prepare; Indonesia’s golden era are coming fast!  

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