For 3 weeks in July to August 2017, CircEsteem visited Red Nose in Jakarta for the Intercultural Social Circus Exchange. The Chicago-based group came with their 10 students: Lois, Julia, Sophie, Kofi, Hayden, Antoinette, Jared, Iris, Omar and Jasmine. They were led by program director Kasumi Kato and Dan Roberts, Red Nose’s founder who is now CircEsteem’s executive director.
Arrived on July 18th, the group then moved in to the generous host families in Jakarta who did not only provide accommodation, but also took care of them during the trip. The group also visited Red Nose’s center in Cilincing regularly for the joint training. There, they formed a team with 10 Red Nose kids: Wahyu, Tedi, Tina, Ria, Ana, Kasma, Sarwan, Rais, Rizky and Rijal. Quickly, they started building friendship each other.
“I get paired with Ria. She is a really humorous girl. And as a daughter of a professional clown, I could say that she is very talented in clown act”, said Lois, one of the Chicago students. “My buddy Kofi looks like my mirror. He is mostly quiet but is energetic”, mentioned Rijal
The team of 20 – later named themselves “20 Smiles Circus” – did collaborative performances across Jakarta.. “It is a great chance that I can collaborate with friends from abroad”, said Tedi, a Red Nose student when the group was interviewed and performed in a TV show.
They also performed together for a school in Cilincing, the disadvantaged kids and families at Yayasan Sayap Ibu, kids living around the garbage landfill of Jakarta, and kids with cancer in the national cancer hospital. On July 30th and August 6th, the group then took part at Red Nose’s 10th Annual Community Circus where the crowd greeted them festively!
In total, 19 performances happened in 3 weeks, including the 10 collaborative performances.
Beyond circus, the trip to Jakarta happened to be the first abroad experience for several kids and they enjoyed so much. “I was a bit surprised with how crowded the airport and the traffic were, but then I enjoyed Jakarta so much. Especially the foods”, said Jarred. “Yeah, tempe is my favorite!” Lois continued.
CircEsteem’s visit successfully brought positive impacts to the kids, especially the 10 kids having great time together. “It’s not only about the circus or performance. More than that, we hope to maintain the friendship those kids have built together”, said Kasumi.
“I had really good time. We learned a lot, and they were very supportive”, recalled Tina.
On August 8th, Red Nose and the 10 kids said goodbye to CircEsteem. With the 3 weeks happened to be memorable for the kids’ lives, the farewell went touching. The Red Nose kids also shared their American buddies a souvenir they initiated themselves.
Next, the 20 couldn’t wait for next year, where the exchange will have its second phase: Red Nose’s visit to Chicago!