The Jakarta Post
Along with the renovation of the French embassy, November saw the opening of a new home for the Institut FranÃ§ais d'IndonÃ©sie or French Institute of Indonesia (IFI), in the heart of the nation's capital.
The 400-square-meter building, which replaces the old facility in Salemba near the University of Indonesia, recently opened on Jl. MH Thamrin in the Senayan Central Business District.
The IFI, which operates as part of the French embassy in Indonesia, promotes for French language, culture and the nation's education system in the archipelago.
Molded in elegant black and white colors, the new building, which is open seven days a week, is divided into two sections.
Two floors are dedicated to students and visitors while an annex hosts the institute's national coordination services.
At the center of the hall, a chandelier-like gathering of peacock feathers made by French artist Marie Denis titled Madame RÃªve (Mrs. Dream) reveals its true beauty at dusk, as the sun passes through the installation while projecting wa-yang-like shadows.
The ground floor features a typical French cafe where visitors can buy freshly made French bread and pastries and sit for a while in a sophisticated atmosphere.
'We chose Ãric Kayser to run the cafe. He is famous in France for being the official bread supplier for the ÃlysÃ©e Palace,' StÃ©phanie Capelani, IFI's communications officer, said, referring to the French president's traditional official residence.
On the first floor, a media library offers visitors French-language reference works as well as electronic access to digital media and news sources from France.
A 'Campus France' branch is also on site to provide Indonesian students more information about pursuing a higher education at French universities or colleges.
More than 400 Indonesians are said to currently be pursuing degrees in Metropolitan France, i.e., the part of the nation that is in Europe, or as the French call it, l'Hexagone.
This is the case for Aziza and Citra, both 21, who said that they started taking French-language classes at IFI four months ago. 'I want to go to Paris next year and study the plastic arts there,' Aziza says.
Her friend Citra comes from Merauke, Papua. 'I already have a degree from UNJ [Jakarta State University]. I chose to study the French language because I want to get a degree in engineering. I plan to go to La Rochelle, a city in the west of France, where I know some Indonesian friends studying there,' she told The Jakarta Post.
The new building also includes a state-of-the-art auditorium with 184 seats that is slated to open early next year, Capelani said.
'We lacked a venue of our own to stage our many cultural events,' according to Capelani. 'Therefore, we decided to build this concert hall alongside with the new French institute. We want the place to be known and identified by Jakartans.'
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
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