Alumna Blog: On Assignment in Indonesia
by Lauren Ebersole '07
Happy Fasting, although I'm pretty sure none of you are fasting. Ramadhan has started and I am giving fasting a try. Many of you are probably thinking how is Lauren going that many hours a day without food. It is not without difficulty. Thoughts of ice cream often pop into my head. Actually not drinking anything is more difficult than not eating. Note: I did not feel so great on Day 2 of fasting, but Day 3 went much better.
On the school front things are still progressing slowly. The students are becoming more comfortable with me and do not only giggle when I approach them. Right now my focus is to not bore my students to death, but hopefully make learning English a little fun. Planning is difficult because number one I don't really know how to make lesson plans and number two I often don't know what happened in the previous class. Each class has English twice a week, but I am only in each class once a week. I also co-teach with all five of the English teachers at my school. I struggle with creating some kind of continuity in lessons. I'm trying to be lenient with myself; at this point I'm sure I am my harshest critic. I'm still trying to figure out how to be the most effective for the most number of people.
School was been disjointed lately because of many Independence Day events and the Ramadhan holiday. For about two weeks my classes were usually missing between 4-8 students because they were practicing marching. For the Indonesian Independence Day, which isn't actually until August 17, all the schools have marching teams. Last Friday, the 6th, was a ‘jalan sehat' or health walk for all the schools in Mojoagung. We gathered at 6ish, so more like 6:30, and walked a few kilometers around the village. Each school had their own gym outfits on, so obviously I wore mine, winter pants and all. After the walk all the teachers from my school went to school to eat together. On Saturday school was shortened because the headmaster's son was getting married. Then on Monday there was a religious program at school and the holiday for Ramadhan started on Tuesday. So today is Saturday the 14th and I am back at school, although the school days
will be shortened for the entire fasting month.
Last Sunday, oh Sunday ... I don't think I can accurately depict the events of Sunday. Sunday was the village ‘jalan sehat' and a few days before I was told I would be a special guest along with Supali, an Indonesian comedian. I arrive to the village office Sunday morning to find my face and name on a large banner hanging in front of the office. (pictures to come soon). Once the village was all gathered, the elementary school marching band led the way. The walk around the village was about 5 km and towards the end everyone received a coupon for a raffle later on at the village office. I was then introduced to Supali; many photos were taken. He then went on stage to MC/tell jokes/entertain the crowd and I enjoyed the show from the audience. Unfortunately 20 minutes later I was called on stage to talk with Supali. As I walked to the stage begrudgingly, a woman I did not know grabbed my arm and kissed me on the cheek and dragged me on stage. I then attempted
to have a conversation with Supali in English, Indonesian, and Javanese. While I did not understand everything, I did understand that he offered to be my boyfriend. And somehow I was talked into singing a few lines of an Indonesian song. (And I imagine many of you are saying "Lauren never needs to be talked into singing", but singing Indonesian songs in front of the entire village is not exactly comfortable). Talk about an event I did not imagine happening in my life.
This is a warning for friends and family: If there is no banner for my homecoming and people do not tell me I'm beautiful everyday, I may be forced to return to Indonesia.
Since my last email I have won two volleyball tournaments, although my actual contribution to the wins was minimal. I am, however, an excellent high-fiver and my teammates let me accept the trophy at the jalan sehat. The final match in the village volleyball tournament was pretty exciting. The crowd was gathered, the music was playing, both teams were warming up as usual, but there was a palpable tension in the air. It appeared that our opponents had brought in some ringers from outside the village for the final and my team was not pleased. Our protests were heard and the referee ruled in our favor; we won without even playing a point. The crowd groaned; they wanted a match (ok I might be exaggerating about the groaning). Anyway the village chief came to sort things out and both teams agreed to play, minus most of the ringers. In a somewhat anticlimactic ending we won 3-0.
Anyway things are generally good, although I have my moments of frustration. It is hard to believe I have already been in Indonesia for almost 5 months. See everyone in another 22 months.
PHOTOS: On Assignment in Indonesia