By Quinn, Nation, and Millett
Published here with authors’ permission
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Willem Iskandar was a very famous writer from North Sumatra in Indonesia. He was interested in teaching and learning, and he was one of the first Sumatran people to write poems and school-books.
Willem Iskandar was born in 1838. His father was the king of a part of Sumatra. When he was a baby, his parents called him Sati. When the first school was opened in his village, Sati was one of the first children to enter it. His school was not a rich school. The building was very small and it had only one teacher. His teacher soon liked Sati because he was a very clever student.
Then Mr. Gouden, who was an important Dutch man in Sumatra, came to visit the school. He saw Sati and was interested in him because he was so clever. After the visit, Mr. Gouden went to see Sati’s parents. He wanted Sati to come and live with his family and to learn Dutch and other things with his own children. Sati’s parents were happy about this. They could see that Sati could learn a lot. So, Sati lived with the Gouden family until he was old enough to start work in an office.
A few years later, when the Gouden family went back to Holland, they asked Sati to go with them. So in 1854 Sati left for Holland to study there. He was the first person from Sumatra to study in that country. While he was living in Holland, the Dutch king heard about him and one day Sati went to see the king. He was the first person from Sumatra to visit the king. When the king met him, he gave him a new name: Willem Iskandar. When his parents heard about this, they were not very happy because they did not want Sati to forget about his own country. This never happened.
After studying in Holland for five years, Willem came back to his own village and got some money to open a high school. This was the first high school in Sumatra. He was the only teacher so he taught all the classes. Willem worked very hard and at the same time he wrote books for his students. After some time, he asked the good students from the higher class to teach the students in the lower class. In this way he taught his students to be teachers. His students later became teachers in many different parts of Sumatra.
Willem Iskandar worked as a teacher for about 15 years and then he was sent again by the Dutch once more to study in Holland. He met many people and made many friends. After some time he married one of his Dutch friends.
After three years the people in Willem’s village were happy because he had passed his examinations and he was coming back soon. However, he never went home. Willem Iskandar was ready to go home and had said good-bye to his friends. Then his wife suddenly did not want to go with him. She was afraid and did not want to leave Holland. Willem Iskandar was very sad. He loved his wife but he wanted to go home to his own country. One day, in one of the quiet corners of a beautiful flower-garden in Amsterdam, he shot himself. Near his body they found a piece of paper from Willem. Only the word ‘Goodbye’ was written on it.