My host mother is roaming the house singing I cannot tell exactly what she is singing about, but I believe that I feature pretty heavily in the song. Something about my window closing on its own. I do really enjoy listening to my host mother sing. I think that this is because she used to teach Javanese (including traditional songs) so when she sings she not only has a pleasant voice, she also puts a neat Javanese twist on all of the songs.
My host mom and I have been spending more time together lately. Part if this is leftover goodwill from Ramadan, and I think the rest is because out of desperation I have been spending long periods of time following her around the house or just watching her watch tv until she talks to me.
I was trying to figure out what made the most difference between the way I felt living in Batu and the way I feel living here. What I concluded was that in Batu I was helpless. I was like an infant: I could not be left alone. Before I moved to my permanent site I had regained some modicum of adult independence (even if I do eat mentos for dinner when left to fend for myself), and as a result spent considerably less time doing nothing. If people are sitting around staring at the tv I tend to get up and leave to find something else to do. This month’s goal has been to give it a few minutes before I run for something to read or study or at least keep my hands occupied.
Most people in Indonesia, I think I can safely say at this point, do not multitask. When I do it freaks people out and/or makes them thing that I am not paying sufficient attention to one of my tasks. This is not true- I am a champion multi-tasker, but when I am just sitting, people here seem much more comfortable approaching me. (I also have been told that I walk WAY to fast)
So I sit. Sitting and doing essentially nothing (especially in a room with no furniture) makes me crazy, (sorry over textmessaged friends!) but I think the result has been worth it. For her part, Bu has started translating her Javanese comments into Bahasa Indonesia a little more so that I can understand more of what she’s saying. She also has started occasionally asking me to do things around the house (usually move large objects), and popping her head into my room at all times of day and night to make observations (“your window is closed. It is dark”) or ask questions (“it’s 5am- why aren’t you up yet? Aren’t you going to school?” Yes. At 7). All of this makes me happy because it makes me feel much more like I belong there.
I imagine that matching volunteers with host-families is quite the daunting task for this reason: I am miserable when my host family doesn’t interact with me, while certain friends of mine want nothing more than to be left alone for five minutes. There is a cultural factor here, but more than that it seems to be more an issue of matching personalities. Like college roommates that you have to live with for two years.
Sorry I haven’t written much lately. I was going to say something about being too busy, and I am plenty busy, but then I thought about how many episodes of Daria I managed to watch last week among other things and decided that that excuse was no good. (Daria reminds me that I am an optimist and also to check a certain natural tendency for vapidness. Useful right?). My other reason is that for some reason (leftover habits of a high-school diarist?) I tend to mostly write when I am upset about something or other. Moods being what they are, I almost never finish the entries that I start in fits of pique and what I do write is best deleted upon reflection.
Life here is pretty biasa or usual. Most days are alright and go smoothly, some days are absolutely spectacular, and occasionally a day will come along that makes me want to run out into a rice-field and scream at the universe.
School is…going. The PPL (student teachers) are still teaching my two Science classes while I retained the three social classes (putting a brand new teacher in a class of fifty students for their first real-life teaching experience would just have been too cruel)
I think that I’ve been really fortunate in that the two PPL who I work with are willing to work really hard and listen to suggestions. It’s interesting to compare the amount of effort that PPL (and some of the younger teachers) are willing to put in to lesson preparation to the way that many of the more experienced teachers just wing it. Perhaps part of the difference is their confidence in their ability to wing it. I for one want to melt into the ground every time I have to deviate from my written (or scribbled as the case may be) lesson plan.
I have a number of ambitious plans to help me learn the names of my students. I don’t know how that’s going to go…so far I think I have learned about six of their names (I know I know). Something about being in Indonesia has exacerbated my natural tendency to have no clue who anyone is. Maybe it’s the bazillions of new people I seem to meet every day, maybe it’s the new language rattling around in my head, the uniforms and head coverings/identical haircuts, maybe it’s the much lower level of variation of eye and skin color than what I’d come to depend on in the US: I don’t know, but I have some plans underway.
My other project is getting the English teachers to work with me. To those of you who ask “what? Haven’t you been working with the English teachers all along” I can only smile, and assume you haven’t taught in Indonesia before. Convincing people to do any kind of “extra” work here is like pulling teeth: with tweezers, and no anesthesia. We have a meeting this afternoon with all six of us (well, one of the teachers has gotten sick- I assume not to spite me…) and that took me three weeks of trying and one ten minute impromptu meeting. We’re going to discuss being invested in our school’s English program/working together. Hope for the best!
I’m constantly trying to adjust my expectations to what I can actually accomplish. One of the most important lessons I think I got from mid-service training was that I really do need to work with other people (even if they rarely show up, show up late, make excuses for not showing up, disappear altogether for days at a time without explanation… you get the idea). It’s harder to work with other people, but the end results are so much better that it’s worth it.
This is something new at my school because often here once the task is assigned to one teacher, the others scatter (flee). That happened last year to me with English club and I’m determined that this year we are going to work together (whether anyone else wants to or not! Haha). I know that my co-teachers have taught me as much as I have taught them, and just the few times I have attended class with the twelfth grade teacher showed me how much I can learn from working with someone with his kind of experience- I want to make the best use of ALL our resources: not just my English fluency, optimism, and scanty experience.
With that in mind I have set out on a quest to “work together” (Hold hands, sway, and since Kumbaya ect. Ect. – I do like that song). Progress is slow, but I think that with a focus on what my partners here want to accomplish we’re going to get somewhere. There are some clear hopes for our English program and our school, there’s just a certain disinclination to subject ourselves to the momentary inconvenience and extra work of moving towards those goals. I know that feeling, but I’m hoping that’s something we’ll be able to get past
Sorry if I’m incoherent or repetitive. I’m still working all this out in my head, but thought I would share: mostly because I know my parents appreciate the reassurance that I am, in fact, still here
Sampai Jumpa Lagi!