Alumna Blog: On Assignment in Indonesia
PB & J
by Lauren Ebersole '07
Recently I have received a flood of requests for a new update, so here is the answer to both (Em and Kat) of those requests.
Fun activities for you to try:
- For one week, oh heck for two days, try eating rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then let me know how many more days you want to do that.
- When you take a shower count how many small lizards seem to be staring at you.
Near the beginning of the month I went around to middle schools delivering invitations to my school's Earth Day event. I went to one school about an hour away. The surprise on the face of the first person that saw me was priceless. She was immediately impressed that I knew any Bahasa Indonesia and after two minutes talking to the principal this woman popped her head into the office and said, “The students are ready for you.” My response, “Umm, ok sure.” About 50 students from the school's Smart English Club greeted me. The students were great and showed me all around school, clapping and singing the whole way. They showed me their rambutan (type of fruit) trees and when I said that I liked rambutan very much, they called a kid over to climb the tree and get them for me. After he climbed the tree, knocked the fruit down with a stick, brushed off all the ants and gave the fruit to me, everyone then apologized that there were so few as it isn't rambutan season. Very Indonesian.
A few weekends ago the volunteers gathered in Surabaya to meet the new group of 30 volunteers. The new group as a whole seems more experienced, many are actually teachers, which is probably a step in the right direction. For now I still feel superior and wise, which should last about 3 months.
My first year of teaching will soon be over. In two short months, and with seemingly haphazard school cancellations, probably more like 6 weeks, my first year of teaching will be complete. Last week was National Exam week for grade 12. Six subjects are tested over four days and students must pass each test in order to graduate. The subjects are Bahasa Indonesia, English, Math, and then either Physics, Biology and Chemistry or Sociology, Geography and Economy depending on what track you are. Grades 10 and 11 had the week off and therefore so did I. English teachers are not allowed to proctor tests, nor would I want to. The week before test week was pretty much a wash as preparations, meetings, and hand shakings kept cancelling class. My week off was not very relaxing however. Monday I went to a middle school to talk with multiple groups of students. With three different groups, plus breaks I was there for about 4 hours. The students were mostly attentive, a little talky at times. But really who can blame them, I bore myself sometimes. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent preparing for my school's Earth Day events. I was at school pretty much all day, Thursday until 9pm. In reality I only helped and offered support. A group of teachers and our student leadership did most of the hard work. Friday we had a inter school competition. Each class prepared a poster, caricature, recycled percussion music, mading (which I think is a strictly Indonesian thing) and recycled products. Two of my fellow volunteers came and my boss with two of his children. The students were very excited to meet them and produced some really great work. Saturday was another big day. We had an essay contest and a recycled products contest for SMPs aka middle schools. We had around 150 SMP students and maybe 500 of our own students attend, along with the American Consul General from Surabaya. It was a pretty big endeavor and all in all went pretty smoothly. If only we could convince people that throwing trash in a trashcan is preferable to throwing it on the ground.
Sunday I took a rice break and it really freaked out my host family. I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, and fruit. My family was so confused, thought maybe I was sick, and worried that one day without rice would make me even thinner. They are really worried that when my parents come to visit, they will be utterly shocked by my appearance and immediately fly me back to America.
On Monday I led the morning flag ceremony at school. This involved me reading the Pancasila, or the five principles of the Indonesian Republic. I also had to salute, say a few random Indonesian words at the correct time, and give a short speech. My speech was short, but powerful, kind of like the Gettysburg Address. (Sorry I'm currently reading Team of Rivals). The flag ceremony is not my favorite thing, so I endeavored to make it as short as possible.
Not to end on a sad note, but another teacher at my school passed away. That makes 2 teachers and 1 student since I have been in Indonesia, along with multiple extended host family members, 3 in the past three weeks alone. So with that reminder that anything can happen, I love you all and think about you often. Take care and see you in about 13+ months.
Much love, Lauren
PHOTOS: On Assignment in Indonesia