Sewing Happiness in Waikabubak: Experience of Internship Student from Binus University – Caritas Indonesia – KARINA

Sewing Happiness in Waikabubak: Experience of Internship Student from Binus University


“East Nusa Tenggara (NTT)? Why so far away?” Maybe that’s the first sentence from every person when hearing that the author was doing an internship in Waikabukak, West Sumba District, East Nusa Tenggara Province. The author is an active semester VII student at Bina Nusantara (Binus) University, Jakarta, from class 2013. The existence of the author in Waikabubak was as a Mandarin Teacher in Sint Pieter Catholic High School for five months (September 2016 until February 2017). This internship was a part of Community Development 3+1 Program from Binus University that is obligatory for every student in V and VII semester.

To be honest, at first, the author didn’t have any thoughts of choosing the “Comdev” track. Then, based on the advice of a friend, this track was chosen. Through the university, author could get a permission to do the comdev track in NTT.  Choices for working in NTT could have never happen without the cooperation of Binus University with Caritas Indonesia Foundation (KARINA). With all the struggle and waiting, finally, the author could go to Waikabubak City on September 12, 2016.

Fear, sadness, excitement, curiosity, and anxiety wrap the author’s mind who was going to start new steps. The fear appeared because there was no one in the city that the author knew. Sadness came when she had to separate with family, best friend, and friends in Jakarta. Anxiety came out when doubting if the author could adapt in a new place. But, the author was also excited to know what will happen next. That was a new adventure for the next 5 moths!

15 minutes before landing at Tambolaka Airport, Waikabubak, the author looked down bellow. It could be seen from the airplane a dry and deserted scenery. There were not many houses could be seen from above, only a brownish barren area decorates this city. The heat and humidity could be felt during landing even into the arrival gate in the airport. There, Mr. Laurensius Juang or Mr. Lorens, who works in Diocese Weetebula, was waiting and ready to pick up the author.

Tiba di Bandar Udara Tambolaka. Untuk pertama kalinya Rani menginjakkan kakinya di wilayah NTT (Foto: Rahani K. Arbianti).
Arriving at the Tambolaka Airport for the first time, Rani made her first step at NTT land (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

After taking the luggage, finally, the author and Mr. Lorens got into the car heading to the boarding places that would be occupied during this internship. Along the way, Mr. Lorens told many things about this area. This Tombolaka airport located in the Southwest Sumba area is pretty barren. So it is not surprising if the weather is hot enough in daylight. This is pretty much different with West Sumba that are more cooler and greener.

On the way, we visit Mr. Lorens friend’s house that was holding a sacrificial animals ceremony. The homeowner served us with newly cooked soup and goat satay. They got acquainted with author and pretty pleased knowing the author’s intention was to teach and stay for five months in Waikabubak. They were also very enthusiast to chat because it was rare to receive a guest from afar.

After a while, we continued our trip to the boarding house which was only 200 meters far from Sint Pieter Catholic High School. Arrived, we were welcomed by Papa and Mama Fritz, owner of the boarding house. They welcomed the author with joy, then asked to chat in the terrace. Suddenly, Mr. Lorens showed up with a glass of water and sprinkled the water with his finger to the author. “Welcome Miss Rani in this new house, until five months later. This is Sumba’s tradition to bless the guest who will be living in the new house. Please come in,” said Mr. Lorens.

The next day, the author went to the school to do some self-report to the principal. Feelings of nervousness and excitement mixed together when the author steped for the first time into the school, and so were the students. They looked at the author curiously and many of them whispered and smiled to each other. And some of them even rushed to call their friends to see the author. And then every student wss gathered in the field for a morning parade.

The Principle of Sint Pieter Catholic High School, Mister Laurensius Dairo Riti, directly introduced the author to all of the school communities and explain the purposes and objectives of the author in this school. After finished introducing herself at the morning parade, then the author went into the teacher’s room and decided to have a conversation with the teachers. The principle then took the author to look around at the school environment while telling the author about the history of the school which is only five years of age.

Suasana SMA Sint Pieter yang masih asri oleh pepohonan (Foto: Rahani K. Arbianti).
The green scenery of Sint Pieter Catholic High School (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

This school is very modest yet beautiful. There are still many trees that made the school environment mild. The school building doesn’t have any fence and the connecting path between school building are made of stones. There are six classes, a teacher’s room, principle room, emergency canteen, and six toilets in here. The students here are very humble and doesn’t exaggerate their style. Even though many of them are a bit shy, but they are very excited to ask and to know the author in the next encounter.

All classes and all of the students wants to know more about the author. It feels good knowing that the arrival of the author has been waited by them. The student’s curiosity to the Mandarin teacher has been answered. Really, they are scrambling to ask the author to teach them in all classes. Even for the first time it is hard to pronounce Chinese words, but they keep their spirit up to try. They are also not hesitate to ask if they didn’t understand. All of these are exceeding the author’s expectation before deciding to go to Waikabubak.

The student enthusiastically learns The Mandarin Language. They always said “Yesss!!!” if there is a new material to learn. Some of the students are pretty stand out in each of the class. They could understand the material faster. Even, in only four sessions, they already could mention some of the Mandarin greetings and short sentences correctly. This, of course, give the author new spirits to teach in this school.

Suasana ruang kelas yang dipakai Rani untuk mengajar Bahasa Mandarin (Foto: Rahani K. Arbianti).
The classroom for the author to teach the Mandarin Language (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

Besides  teaching and learning activities, the author also attends other activity with the local community. Papa & Mama Fritz asked the author to follow a traditional dance practice in Sumba that is planned to be shown in a carnival on September 15th. For three nights practicing, the author already  mastered each movement. This traditional dance is unique because the dancer depends on the foot movement that followed the music with exciting rhythm and tone.


Different from Jakarta, Waikabubak environment is very soothing. The temperature on the daylight is about 23-25oC and in the night is about 18-20oC. The city is quiet, mild, and time goes slowly. There are not many motor vehicle that passes in front of the house. Some residents still use horses to go to the kiosk. Even the buffalo owner lets their buffaloes in the road without needing to worry about traffic. Every family have a guard dog and raise pigs in their backyard

The night time scenery of the city (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

There are still many residents here that eats betel nut. They are harmonious and known each other well. If there is a mourning news or some big event in some places, then the news will be spread fastly from mouth to mouth to each area of Waikabubak. Although there is an emergency market here, but there are many residents that sell their own crops, like cabbage, spinach, cassava leaves, etc., in front of their house.

It took about 10 minutes from boarding house to the city by using a motorcycle and about 15-20 minutes by using otto/bemo (public transportation). The cost for otto is IDR 4.000, while taxi bikes are IDR 5.000, as long as it is inside the city. There are traditional market and larger kiosks that sell household equipment and supplies in the city. However, all shopping places will be closed at 19.00 WIT to avoid the disruption of safety. So, during the night, the city is very quiet.


On September 15th, the author accompanied the Sint Pieter Catholic High School students to attend the carnival. This event was held by West Sumba Department of Culture and Tourism, in order to celebrate the 71st independence day of Indonesian Republic. The carnival started from Waikabubak Christian High School and finished in Gelora Padaeweta Field. All carnival participants wore Sumba’s cloth and sarong. This kind of event became an entertainment for Sumba residents. People watched the process of carnival within this 2-kilometer long roadside.

Karnaval yang diselenggarakan oleh Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata Sumba Barat (Foto: Rahani K. Arbianti).
The carnaval that was held by The Culture and Tourism Department of West Sumba (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

Besides attending the carnival, the author also had a chance to follow a wedding ceremony. Different from the habit of congratulating both of the brides in Jakarta, the guests gave a nose kiss (nose meets nose) for a sign of congratulations. Man, woman, old, nor young did the nose kiss. Although not accustomed to it, the author finally did the nose kiss to enliven that ceremony. The party was held with a banquet and dance.

While being here, author got a chance to visit the Prai Injing and Tarung Traditional Village. The distance is about 30 minutes using motorcycle from Waikabubak. The houses in Prai Injing Village still use dry reeds as its roof. Even there is not much villagers activity seen, but the scenery of this village is still very natural and beautiful. Next trip was to Tarung Villlage. The traditional house in this village consist of three tiers: on the top are for keeping food stock, in the middle is for the living room, and at the bottom is for livestock cage. The activities in this village are more visible, there is some women who are weaving, also grinding, and cleaning rice.


Rani bersama teman-teman di sana saat mengunjungi Kampung Adat Praijing & Tarung (Foto: Rahani K. Arbianti).
Rani (in the middle) with her friends during the trip at Traditional Villages of Prai Injing & Tarung (Photo: Rahani K. Arbianti).

After a few weeks in Waikabubak, the author feels that she had gotten many new experiences. The decision to do the comdev in NTT was not mistaken and needed to be thankful for. The simple life of the community made the author grateful for everything that has given by God to her. The life in Jakarta that is far more glamorous and also far away from families and friends made the author able to feel happiness with the new family in Waikabubak. The author believes that as a human we must be brave to take risks and undergo life challenges. Because in the end, what we have worked for will never be in vain. ▪


The author is Rahani Kusuma Arbianti, a student of VII semester from Binus University Jakarta. She is from the Faculty of Chinese Literature who taught The Mandarin Language in Sint Pieter Catholic High School, Waikabubak. This internship program was held under the cooperation of Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta with KARINA Foundation and Weetebula Diocese. Editor: NAC KARINA.


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