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Monday, July 23, 2012

Living the Dream

This terrace follows the road from our room to our school
Written 7/23/12
Waking to sounds of exuberant young people gathering for class, I realized that I am living, however temporarily, the visions I had of Indonesia.  For much of a year, I have anticipated this opportunity to exchange educational and cultural information with the people of Indonesia.  Now at my host school in Mojokerto, this first day of classes has been exhilarating and exhausting.

Photo taken from my balcony
Walking to school from the guest house was beautiful.  After pausing to capture some pictures of the terraced rice fields that grow next to the road, Nancy and I looked up to see that a towering volcano, Welirang, loomed before us.  Images of Indonesia in travel guides, while beautiful, do not do it justice.  How lucky Nancy and I have been to have been assigned to this mountain school. 
Tutik's morning class in the forest

At school, I was graciously welcomed into my host teacher’s girls’ English class.  They were meeting in the forest today.  A tarp on the ground serves as the area boundaries for the class, and even though it is outside, one takes off one’s shoes to “step into the classroom.”  It’s cool here.  We’re at the base of a passive volcano, Welirang, so we enjoy a mountain breeze today.  My student’s will be jealous of the learning environment.  Since the students at this high school do not move from class to class like American students, the girls in this forest classroom are very lucky to be there for all of their classes.  Ibu Tutik let me take up the whole period to talk to the girls about my home in California.  I knew it was time for the next class when the chemistry teacher arrived.   Three more times, in different classrooms, I shared information about my California.  I was careful to explain that my California is quite different than my neighbors’ California, because we are a state populated by people from many parts of the world.  Given some time to think and to get comfortable, students asked some questions as well.  One thing it seems that all Indonesian students know is that our U.S. president is Barack Obama.  Obama attended school in Jakarta when he was young.  Perhaps I’ll get a chance to see that school before I leave the country.
When school was out for the day, English teachers, our principal, and TGC teachers designed a plan for a workshop on Thursday.  English teachers from several nearby schools will be invited to attend, and the sharing of all of our best practices for engaging students in English language learning will be the focus. 
Dutch-built irrigation station
An after lunch hike to Dutch irrigation system buildings called Jubel was next on the agenda.  The beauty of the land alone was breathtaking, but we also heard tales of night times scouting hikes along this trail which were very scary.  Two of the girls from the school accompanied us.
Internet connectivity is not available in my guest house, so posts and communication will be uncertain for the next few days.  I will continue to journal my thoughts and experiences and post whenever I can.

1 comment:

  1. You ARE lucky, Arlis! That's beautiful! By the way, Obama's elementary school is really not far from the Park Hotel (25-30 minute drive in light traffic), so you should be able to see that when you return to Jakarta.