On my very first day at ISI, my very first class opened with a prayer. I thought nothing of it. UKJGS meetings back in Jogja often opened with a prayer, so everything felt normal and even slightly comforting. After two weeks of opening every class with a prayer, though, I can now say that it just feels weird.
Coming from an American public school background, prayer and school just don’t mix. Not in any official way. What at first was nice—especially because I’ve been really bad about looking for a church in Solo—has now become routine and vaguely annoying. Praying before every class just doesn’t seem very meaningful. For me, at least, the fact that it’s obligatory has leeched away at its meaning.
On an unrelated note, the prayers are always silent—to be respectful to all religions—and also very short. Unless I speed recite, I can barely make it through half of the Lord’s Prayer. My assumption has been that most people are reciting a short, scripted, Muslim prayer, but I haven’t asked anyone yet. I’ll get around to it one of these days.