Alumna Blog: On Assignment in Indonesia
attempting to go with the flow
by Lauren Ebersole '07
I have completed the first week of school and well, it's a little different than what I am used to. I thought school started on Monday the 12th and my scheduling/planning/list making self was freaking out that I had not made any plans with other teachers. So I requested a meeting with my counterpart for the Friday before school started, which we had, but planned little. I did, however, learn that there were no classes Monday or Tuesday because they were workshop days. I will be teaching 9 classes in the 10th and 11th grades and will be co-teaching with the other 5 English teachers. I'm not exactly sure how the planning with so many teachers will go, but I guess I'll figure it out. Just go with the flow as people like to say here.
So here is how my week went:
Monday: A one hour opening ceremony where I stood directly in the path of the sun and sweated like I had just played a 90- minute soccer game. Luckily I only had to meet the Vice-Regent of Jombang and not the Regent of Jombang. The rest of the day 8am-4pm was spent in a teacher's workshop where I understood very little. The best part of Monday was receiving my new athletic gear ... a shirt with my name on it, Lauren Marie E, and fleece lined pants.
Tuesday: Sports Day!!!! I believe I participated in the first ever-female futsal game at my school. One of the other female teachers told me she wanted to play and I of course jumped at the chance. So we had a team of about 7 female teachers against a group of female students, with the whole school watching. Not to brag, but my team won. I was left with a pair of badly bruised knees from falling on the concrete.
Wednesday: Classes actually started on Wednesday, but there are no English classes on Wednesday because it is a planning day. No planning was done on Wednesday though. I actually can't remember what I did on Wednesday so it was probably of no significance. Wednesday evening three little girls came to my house and said they wanted to learn English. I asked when and they said they wanted to start tomorrow.
Thursday: First day of actual teaching and since we don't have any books yet I went with an introduction of myself, followed by a student questionnaire, and some class rules. The students are very shy to speak with me or in front of the class. Surprisingly I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. While it was by no means thrilling I'm considering the first day a success as I had enough planned for the entire class time, I got a few laughs, and I did not sweat through my shirt. Thursday afternoon my three new students, ages 10 and under, came to the house with book bags, notebooks, dictionaries and pencil sharpeners ready for some English lessons. We worked on some introductions and a little vocabulary so now when they see me they usually say Hello Miss Lauren, how are you. It was the first time I almost saw a student cry when they were not given homework. The English lesson was followed by my first volleyball match in the alun-alun, or
town square. Luckily no one noticed me...
Friday and Saturday: Much the same as Thursday, more classes, more introductions followed by English lessons at my house, followed by volleyball, although only in the village not in the town square.
Since my last email I have met my third host sister who is studying engineering at a university in Solo. She is great and likes to ask me many questions about America, my family, my friends, and the other volunteers. The women I play volleyball with are now also interested in learning English, so I think I am going to have to rotate lessons between children and adults. This is of course dependent on what my extracurricular activities at school may be. I assume I will be helping with the English club but I have also heard talk of a women's futsal team starting with me as the coach. Unfortunately no one but my host sister has mentioned it to me.
There is a general theme that I am always a little behind what's going on, a little out of the loop. I think this is partly because of the language barrier and partly because people just don't tell me things. For instance, on Saturday I went to my neighbor's house to walk to volleyball together. She didn't seem ready so I asked if there was or wasn't volleyball today. She just said 'Let's go.' When we arrived only the boys were playing, none of the women with whom I usually play. So we waited for a few minutes and sure enough all the women came, none of them looking like they wanted to play. I then tried to explain, in broken Bahasa Indonesia, that if there wasn't volleyball they only needed to tell me; it was not necessary to call the group and make everyone play just because they thought I wanted to.
My integration into the school is progressing slowly but surely. I would even go so far as to say I have made a friend. One of the younger teachers at school invited me to her home where I met her 2-year-old son and sat around talking and eating. She requests that I only speak in English to her so she can practice as much as possible. I also made a few bets with two of the teachers about which team would win the World Cup. Unfortunately we all lost, but one of the teachers still offered to take me out for lunch.
I made spaghetti for my host sisters on Sunday; they ate it although I'm not sure they enjoyed it. And I didn't really make it I bought sauce from a can and added a few fresh ingredients. Even though the sauce wasn't all that great it still tasted good to me. It was a welcome break from rice.
Please tell me what's going on in your world.
Love always, Lauren
PHOTOS: On Assignment in Indonesia