Obama's language skills charm Indonesians

Photo: Obama's language skills charm Indonesians / Other News

US President Barack Obama showed off some of his Indonesian-language skills during his 19-hour visit to the country he lived in as a child, drawing laughter and cheers from the locals, DPA reported.

Opening his speech at the University of Indonesia on Wednesday, Obama said: "Assalamulaikum. Salam sejahtera" (Peace be upon you. Happy prosperity), to applause from the academic audience.

He sparked a chorus of laughter when he said: "Pulang kampung, nih," slang for "I'm back in my village," in a flawless local accent.

At a dinner hosted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Obama named in Indonesian the traditional dishes and snacks he was served and quipped: "Semuanya enak" (They're all delicious).

Obama moved to Indonesia in 1967 after his mother, Ann Dunham, married an Indonesian after separating from his Kenyan father.

He lived in Jakarta for four years and attended two elementary schools before being sent by his mother to Hawaii.

Obama reminisced how as a child he and his friends played in open fields chasing goats and water buffaloes.

"I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites, running along paddy fields, catching dragonflies, and buying satay (skewered grilled meats served with peanut sauce) and bakso (meatball soup) from the street vendors," he said.

"If you asked me, or any of my schoolmates who knew me back then, I don't think any of us could have anticipated that I would one day come back to Jakarta as president of the United States."

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