JAKARTA: The newly crowned Miss Indonesia Kerenina Sunny Halim might have amazed people with her fluent English, but surprised just as many with her poor ability to speak Indonesian.
On the final night of the Miss Indonesia pageant last week, Kerenina needed a translator to help her understand the judges' questions. Kerenina admits this is a weakness but has promised to improve her Indonesian language skills.
"It's been hard for me *to speak Indonesian*, because I use English every day," says the half-American woman. "But I will learn. Indonesian is an easy language, as long as we're willing to learn."
Kerenina's brother, actor Steve Emmanuel (now Yusuf Iman), reveals that his sister was not exposed to Indonesian as a child because she didn't go to a formal school. "She was with homeschooling," Steve says. "She barely uses Indonesian at home, and doesn't go out often *so she can't practice Indonesian*."
The 23-year-old has also promised to learn more about the local culture in preparing for this year's Miss World competition in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Currently, I don't know much *about Indonesian culture*," says the girlfriend of actor Nino Fernandez. "But within six months, I'm going to learn about it all, because I represent Indonesia at the international level."
Kerenina, who holds six diplomas - in public relations; sales and marketing; primary school teaching; economics; performing arts; and music and art - won the competition over the two other finalists, Viviane (from Bali) and Melati Putri Kusuma Dewi (West Sulawesi). Kerenina impressed the judges with her fluent English, and was considered to meet the contest's criteria of MISS (Manners, Impressive, Smart and Social). - JP