The informant was my cousin (referred to as LG) who spent 4 years being a Fulbright scholar in Indonesia. There she was teaching school girls English and art. She told me one of the Indonesian teachers would always say this proverb to the girls:
LG: “Bagai pungguk merindukan bulan. Which translates into Like an owl reaching for the moon.”
CI: “What does that really mean?”
LG: “It’s definitely kind of sad, It is basically saying, ‘you’re wishing for something impossible.’ I feel like the older Indonesian generations definitely tried to be what they thought was realistic with their students or children, but also it definitely could be seen as putting the children down.”
I find this particularly interesting because teachers in America are very encouraging and there is a strong sentiment that “The children are the future. But in Indonesia, especially in the village, my cousin lived, which was very poor, it seems that adults think it is important to not encourage the children too much. This proverb isn’t necessarily putting children down, it is just telling them not to dream too big.