Obama writes back to 9-year-old Indonesian girl in US

US President Barack Obama sent a reply to a letter from 9-year-old Adinda Radia, who is Indonesian and lives in the US.
US President Barack Obama sent a reply to a letter from 9-year-old Adinda Radia, who is Indonesian and lives in the US. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - United States President Barack Obama has just delivered his final speech as POTUS in Chicago on Tuesday (Jan 10) night local time, and warm sentiments flooded social media; not only among Americans, but also from around the world.

The anxious anticipation of the power transfer to president-elect Donald Trump has affected Indonesians in America, one of them being Adinda Rania, the 9-year-old daughter of Voice of America journalist Eva Mazrieva.

Adinda was so anxious that she decided to write a letter to President Obama; and he sent his reply last Friday (Jan 6).

"I just wanted to share my feelings about the current situation," the third grade student of an academic advanced programme class at an elementary school in Virginia told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday (Jan 11), referring to the letter she sent in November, which was a four-page folio letter, handwritten in pencil.

The letter consists of drawings of her surroundings, as well as lingering questions on her mind, such as "Is it still safe for us to be here?" and "Can I still go to the same school?"

Adinda said she wanted to ask about why people say bad things.

"Donald Trump keeps saying that he will not allow Muslims to come to the US, or that Muslims are terrorists," she shared.

"My mom and my teacher have taught me to respect others, but I saw how Trump imitated disabled people on TV. I also saw some women who had cried because of him, but my mother did not want me to watch these (videos)."

Eva said that her daughter's concerns might also be stemming from the election-related news she sees daily. The family regularly checks for news updates every morning, be it from the television or daily newspaper.

Adinda, who wanted to be a chemist, said that things around her had started to change even since September last year, or before Trump was elected.

"I started to see 'bad signs' in my school, such as drawings of eyes with the words 'I see you' and Swastika signs. I actually didn't know about that (sign) until my friends told me that it was a bad symbol," she said.

"I like to recite the Quran. I wonder if I can still do so if Trump becomes president, because he keeps saying that he does not like Muslims."

In the letter written on Jan 3, Obama thanked Adinda for her writing. He also said "Passionate debates about equality and fairness have always been at the heart of our American story", as well as "I am glad you took the time to tell me how you feel".

He remarked that the country is a "home of people of every background and belief", and that all Americans are "united in our belief that all of us deserve the same rights and the same opportunities".

He also said: "The more we practice those values in our neighborhoods and reflect them in our laws, the better off we will all be."

The US president had also sent pictures of his dogs, Bo and Sunny, alongside his letter, as Adinda had mentioned them in her letter.

Adinda said that she had hoped that President Obama would reply to her letter, since he had done so to other children in the US.

The youngest member in her family, she also said that she actually wanted to meet the president himself.

"But I know that as a president, he is so busy. So I was so excited when he replied to my letter."

One of the recent concerns of immigrants staying in the US is safety. Beyond what Adinda had seen, Eva said that she had also experienced unpleasant encounters.

"Once I was waiting to cross the road with several people, which happened to be made up mostly of immigrants, then a car passed by in high speed and a passenger rolled the window down, shouting 'go back home'!" she said.

She also said that although her family, which had moved to the country in 2010, had no plans to return to Indonesia, she had been fervently warning her children to always stay safe, especially in the wake of recurring violence in the US recently, even on school grounds.

"Moreover, it is an era in which people are becoming more accustomed to expressing their disappointment and hate, right?" she said.

Regarding the US president-elect, Eva said: "We hope that president-elect Donald Trump will fulfill his promise to be the president for all, just like what he had promised after he won the election last November."

Meanwhile, Adinda said: "I don't know. My sister said that she hoped Trump could be the president for all. But for me, I just want to feel safe. I want to be a chemist."

When asked whether she would write a letter to Donald Trump, she said: "I don't want to. He has been saying so many bad things. I don't like it."