Miss Connie Tan Kwie Hwa, a social worker from Djakarta, Indonesia, was the first woman to be awarded a Winifred Kiek Scholarship for one year of study. Miss Tan was the Directress of the Dorcas Children's Home in Djakarta, and her scholarship was awarded for post-graduate studies on child care. Connie spent the second and third terms of the 1965 academic year in Australia, May to December, with one term in Sydney and one in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, the very low-quality photo above is the only one of Connie Tan that I was able to locate in the ACW Archives. Please contact me email@example.com if you have an image of Connie to update this post.
The following is Connie Tan’s story that she wrote on 15 January 1965:
‘I spent the early years of my life in Semarang, the capital of central Java and attended primary school there until my mother’s death, when I was nine years old (June 1941). After her death I moved to Salatiga to live with my grandmother, aunt and uncle. I attended primary school there for only six months, when my education was interrupted because of the Second World War. Under the Japanese occupation and during the first years of the revolution I was unable to continue my schooling. In 1947 Salatiga was set on fire and most of the inhabitants lost their homes. We moved to Semarang, where I entered again the primary school completing this in six months. Because of my age I was also able to complete Junior secondary school in two years instead of the usual four years and the Teacher’s Training School in two years.
In 1952 the minister of my local church, called Ds. Tan Ik Hay, offered me a position as a teacher in the Christian primary school and after two years, in addition to this work, I was asked to open their Junior Secondary School. During this time I was also studying for a certificate in education and in 1959 obtained my Bachelor of Education from F.K.I.P. (Faculty of Teacher’s Training and Education).
It was in 1959 on the request of one of my examiners, that I came to Djakarta where in addition to undertaking post-graduate study I lectured at the Christian University of Indonesia and the University of Indonesia.
My grandmother and aunt are closely associated with the church and my uncle has been an elder of the church in Salatiga. In the past I worked with the Sunday School in Salatiga and also was secretary for one year of the Association for Sunday School teachers in the province for Central Java. I was also secretary of the Christian Youth Group in Central Java for a period and so received opportunities to attend Youth conferences in Java.
My special interests are singing and reading.
I have read widely about the services provided for dependent children overseas and am familiar with the situation in children’s homes in Java. I am aware of the limitations in services provided here and anxious to see the actual work being done in institutions in Australia. I hope also to learn something of the methods being used to improve services (staff education, intake of new children, arrangements within the home and follow up on discharge) in the hope that on my return I can both apply these in Dorcas [children’s home] and share my experiences with other Indonesian colleagues.
I am interested too in the further development of services to delinquent children in Indonesia as they are not yet well developed. I would therefore like to have the opportunity to see child welfare services in this field – including the children’s court, institutional and after-care of children, as well as the operation of the probation services.
Dorcas is closely tied with the Christian Church of Indonesia at Kwitang (Djakarta) and I am hoping to use my experience to improve services provided by the church for dependent children. In addition I am hoping to continue teaching students in the field of education and psychology at the Christian University of Indonesia and possibly at other Christian Educational Institutions.
The scholarship was offered to Connie in faith, before the scholarship money was guaranteed. This was a huge leap of faith for Australian Church Women and their prayers were answered. The offerings from the ACW Special Days, that is Fellowship Day and World Community Day, covered the costs of the scholarship and demonstrated the generosity of the church women who attended the Special Day services.
Connie’s presence in Australia influenced the theme of the 1965 Fellowship Day—‘Bridges to Asia’. Mrs Mabel Wyllie, the president of ACW, prepared the Order of Service with southeast Asia in mind. The accompanying study material was prepared by the Rev. and Mrs Gordon Dicker who had been fraternal workers in Indonesia.
While Connie was still in Australia, she received an invitation to spend eight months in further study in Holland (The Netherlands) before returning to Indonesia. The study programme was arranged with the Generale Deputaten voor het Algemeen Dioconaal Bureau. With assistance, Australian Church Women was able to arrange Connie’s passage to Genoa, Italy, followed by a train to Utrecht, Holland.
After Connie departed Australia, many positive reports were received of her stay in this country.
It was recorded in the 1966 National Minutes of Australian Church Women that there was ‘general agreement that the choice of Miss Connie Tan as the first scholarship holder was a very wise one and our thanks must go to Miss Jennifer Dey (Fraternal Worker from the Australian Council of Churches in Djakarta) for her suggestion and encouragement given to Connie in making her application.
‘Many people have contributed to the planning and carrying through of the programme for the first Winifred Kiek Scholarship holder and our thanks to all who have played any part in this venture. The Working Committee is sure that the project, and the consequent friendships made, are a worthwhile contribution to the developing of better understanding between the peoples of Indonesia and Australia.’
In the 1966 National Minutes, various ACW Units also reported their experiences of Connie Tan.
The New South Wales Unit said:
‘Local response to meeting Miss Connie Tan was excellent. She was the first “bridge to Asia” for many women’s groups.’
The Queensland Unit reported that they invited Connie Tan to visit Brisbane:
‘Fellowship Day was observed in Brisbane this year, the service being held in the Salvation Army Citadel, at which Miss Tan was a speaker. The theme “Bridges to Asia”, [sic] was well handled by our guest, and to conclude the service, questions were discussed by a panel led by the Rev. T. Rees Thomas, and including Miss Tan who endeared herself to all who had the privilege of meeting her. Miss Tan also addressed the Fellowship Meeting at Southport arranged by the Inter-Church Fellowship.’
From the South Australian Unit:
‘The visit of Miss Connie Tan Kwie Hwa to South Australia was the highlight of the year. If this year’s experience can be regarded as a true indication, we must surely recognise that this Scholarship is of great value to us. It has enriched our understanding and knowledge of Indonesia and kindled a flame of love for one of her citizens. We hope it has been of at least equal value to Connie and Indonesia.’
Connie also met with Revd Winifred Kiek during her visit to South Australia.
The Victorian Unit reported:
‘Miss Connie Tan has been with us for 3 months, and we have greatly enjoyed her friendliness, as she has fulfilled splendidly the heavy programme of study and services planned for her. She studied our social services, both Commonwealth and Church, and spent time in the Social Service Departments of each church. Miss Tan did 4 broadcasts over Radio Australia to Indonesia, on our social work. Miss Tan attended lectures at the University and at Rolland House. We are very grateful to Deaconess Ritchie, for all her kindness to Connie, whilst she stayed at Rolland House. Connie has spoken in deep appreciation of her comfortable flat, and all the kindness by the staff, students and friends she made.’
Mrs HT Wells, of the Congregational Church, met Connie Tan whilst in Holland and reported on Connie’s ‘warm expression of the benefits received through the period spent in Australia, and concerning the very kind hospitality which had been extended to her.’
Like many of the Winifred Kiek scholars, Connie continued to keep in touch with Australian Church Women for many years after being awarded a Winifred Kiek Scholarship.