“We were shocked because you don’t expect something like this to happen somewhere so close to you,” said Vanessa Goldschimdt, a senior at Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS).
On Jan. 14, an unexpected terrorist attack in central Jakarta brought fears and worries to Jakarta residents and neighboring countries. Similar to the Paris attacks, the attacks in Jakarta happened sequentially: bombs and shooting occurred in multiple places, one after another.
The first suicide bomb went off in Starbucks located near the Sarinah Mall. Two other attackers located outside Starbucks then seized two foreigners, a Dutch citizen and an Algerian citizen. The attackers opened fire, shooting people on the street. Not long after, the two attackers rode a motorcycle to the nearest police post and blew themselves up.
In total, there were five explosions and five unexploded bombs in the same area which were safely evacuated by the police.
Meanwhile, students at JIS, not yet aware of the unexpected news, were outside their classrooms enjoying their break time. Teachers rushed out of their offices and frantically told everyone to go inside to a classroom closest to them. Clueless and scared, students continuously refreshed their screens in effort to understand what was going on.
Soon after all chaos settled down, regular classes recommenced but all after-school activities were cancelled. Vanessa said, “It freaked everyone out because I guess you wouldn’t expect to be in a situation like this. It was still a bit hectic leaving school because many parents were worried.”
During the day of the attack, school gates were closed off and no one could leave or enter the school campus. Although the school is roughly 17km away from the bombing location, the international school heightened their security as a result. Currently, there are new armed policemen and dogs at the school gates to check all vehicles that enter the school.
“To be honest, I don’t think anything is going to happen [to JIS], but then again you honestly never know and that’s the scary part,” Vanessa said.
Concerns about safety in Jakarta following the bombing led to the change of plans for this season’s IASAS Rugby/Touch which was originally to be held at JIS. The current IASAS secretary from ISKL and administration from all six IASAS schools came together for an emergency meeting to develop a back-up plan. Taking into consideration the short span of time until the tournament, all the preparation JIS had completed for this tournament, and several families’ concerns, the board came to a final decision to move this year’s tournament to the International School of Manila.
“The biggest challenge we faced was time. This unfortunate news hit us only a week and a half before the tournament…But all IASAS schools communicated diligently and cohesively with each other to make sure the tournament can still proceed successfully. I have full confidence and trust in JIS [with the decision they made to change the venue],” said SAS’s Activities and Athletic Director, Mimi Molchan.
An IASAS tournament on home turf, no matter the sport, is an event all students and faculty look forward to. It is an invaluable experience for all players and supporters to share the spirit of IASAS. Thus, cancellation of IASAS Rugby/Touch at JIS was devastating for the JIS community.
“Everyone, especially the rugby and touch players, were definitely disappointed…there was so much hype! We got all our friends and teachers excited, but then tragedy hit our city. Although we were disappointed, we understood why that change in venue for IASAS was needed to be made,” said Vanessa.
Thankfully, reassurance of safety has returned for the JIS community. Even the city’s traffic and liveliness has made a comeback. IASAS Rugby/Touch in Manila will run smoothly this week due to the assistance of all IASAS schools working promptly and cooperatively together.
This tragic incident was a reminder for all students, teachers, and families that unfortunate events may happen anytime, anywhere around us. Looking forward, the IASAS community will further emphasize the significance of building trust with each school and ensuring safety for travelling athletes.
“Communication is going to be key for future events,” Mimi Molchan said. “The world is changing and we can’t operate on fear. We will continuously rely on each other and work together to make all tournaments possible.”