Thank you, Indonesia, for the Reminder

Yesterday was the last day of the COP and it felt like summer camp was ending. I was sad to see many of the organization booths empty, and the structures that had become so familiar being disassembled.

On top of that, it was a gloomy day, and per the MO of the negotiations, nothing productive seemed to be happening. Lots of talking heads saying the same things. Countries need to lead (but not us). People need to make compromises (but not us). Countries need to support each other (so why don’t you guys work on that, we’re a little busy).

That’s when feeling a bit glum during a wander through the country delegation pavilions, and seeing the United States pavilion being unceremoniously deconstructed, the nicest woman with a light blue head scarf came up to us.

“Please come to the Indonesian Pavilion. We have closing ceremony with cultural performance and delicacy,” she said.

We were intrigued, and being grad students, couldn’t turn down the offer of free food.

At first we were three of seven people in the room, but slowly it began filling, and soon it was a packed house–we sat sandwiched between a delegate of Niger on our right and the Indonesian ambassador to Peru on our left. From the moment the event began, we felt like honored guests. We were welcomed by a friendly woman in a black dress, one of the Indonesian delegates, who introduced the first dance and explained that it represented humanity’s connection with nature.

The performers were dynamic and powerful and dancing inches from us.

After the first dance, the Indonesian Ambassador to Peru addressed the crowd and explained that the dancers were actually Peruvian students who had been trained by Indonesian dancers. Then he explained that the following performance represented friendship and goodwill. The same dancers returned in different costumes and dazzled us again.

After that performance, the head delegate  announced it was time to cut and share the Nasi Tumpeng, their traditional delicacy with a rice base that is built upon with different side dishes like quail egg, rice noodles, veggies, chicken and other assorted, spicy goodies. She explained that sharing the Nasi Tumpeng with someone is a show of friendship. Besides being touching, it was delicious.


My spirits were brightened, and I was reminded why the United Nations was created in the first place–that it was created after World War II to foster international cooperation and dialogue with the mandate “To work together, with other free peoples, both in war and in peace.”

I wished all of the head delegates were in this room, breaking bread together and remembering this with me, instead of in the stuffy ADP negotiation room being stubborn and uncooperative. They’re still there now in fact, hashing things out, and while they’ll eventually settle on a watered down agreement, I wish the process could reflect some of the friendship and goodwill presented by Indonesia to us as this wonderful event.