Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Grocery Shopping

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I went with the head master of my school and two male English teachers. It was clear that none of them do the shopping for their households. It was a hilarious hour and a half excursion. I couldn't read any of the labels and they didn't know what brands were best. I could write a great comedy act about it. I spent the equivalent of $32. This is what I bought: (if some of these items/numbers sound odd, remember that I was shopping with 3 men who didn't know what they were doing)
1 box tissues
1 bag sugar
1 bottle dish soap
1 bag frozen peas
1 tub butter
5 boxes noodles
1 jar sambal (Indonesian hot sauce)
1 bag salt
5 tomatoes
4 onions
1 can tomato sauce
1 jar nutella
1 jar nasi goreng seasoning (for Indonesian rice)
1 bottle of mizone (equivalent of gatorade, good for regaining electrolytes when sick)
9 garlic bulbs
3 mango yogurts
1 box tea bags
2 bags of tofu
1 roll toilet paper
1 bottle shampoo
24 eggs
1 bag of organic rice (the size of half a bail of hay)
1 huge bottle of cooking oil
1 bar of peanut sauce
2 red bell peppers

Finally in Magelang!

Hello everyone,
I have finally arrived at my school in Magelang! So far I have been enjoying getting to know my school and the people that I will be working with for the next 8 months. It has been confusing and entertaining so far. First, not many people speak any English. Schedules don't seem to exist-I'm being dragged around all day and introduced to people with no idea what I'm doing next or where I'm going. That said, the people here are so incredibly friendly and really want me to be happy. So I'm getting used to living with geckos, ants, bad internet, a maid, no privacy, and 2000 male students who whistle at me. Since the internet is so slow I might not be posting as often anymore, but I will try to keep you up to date.

For now, some of my favorite quotes thus far:
"You're so look so tired!"
"You're beautiful because you have a nice nose."
"How did you get so big and strong?" (in response to the fact that the vice principal-a man-couldn't pick up my luggage, but i did it with one arm...indonesians are small)
"Why aren't you white? Americans are supposed to be white, you're the same color as an Indonesian!"
"Don't be upset if the boy students point and laugh at you. It means they're afraid of you." (yeah, right, i'm sure that's what it means)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

See Dad! There are deer here too...

Maribaya Hot Springs and Waterfalls

Tofu Factory

This Sunday a group of the vegetarian ETAs went to a tofu (tahu in Bahasa Indonesia) factory. The first picture above is what we could see of the factory...not much. We were able to to try the tofu though. It was delicious! Ita, one of the AMINEF ladies, told us that the tofu from Bandung is supposed to be especially tasty because of the excellent quality of the water that is used to make it here. I have no idea if that is true, but I do know that the tofu was delicious.

Hello Marc Jacobs Dresses!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Selamat Idul Fitri!

There is something fabulously exotic about this moment. Unique. I'm sitting here in a dark hotel room, alone, looking out over the city lit from below by thousands of headlights illuminating the busy streets. Cracks boom just before fireworks flash over the sky--their bright glow showering the sky with shimmering red and white sparks. The whole scene is played to the soundtrack of the Al-Quran being read over the loudspeaker in melodic, undulating, slightly hypnotic tones. The night is awake and aware; the energy is undeniable. My experience of the moment is unable to be captured by photo, video, or even really words. And because of that, I am profoundly present. I am living in the moment in a way both uncommon and sublime.
[written 9/19/09, first night of Idul Fitri]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meet some ETAs

Emma, Michael, Raj
Courtney, Jenny, Jimmy, Graham, Vidhi, Anna
Abdul, Kalada, Vidhi, Alexa, Carrie, Sarah, John, Me
Me, Sarah, Ricky
Sarah Squared
John, Me, Jimmy
Thom, Kalada, Courtney, Risma's cousin, Risma, Ita, Erica, Sarah
Me and the glowing orb
Kalada, Ricky, Me
Ab, Dani
Aaron, John, Jimmy
Aaron, Vidhi, John

Look at this Bat!

Saung Anklung

Yesterday afternoon we went to a cultural performance at Saung Anklung--a school for traditional arts of Indonesia. Anklung is a type of instrument made out of bamboo. The performance consisted on children playing anklung and doing traditional dances for us. They were so talented! They ranged in ages from 3 to around 15. The anklung music was so peaceful and beautiful. The little girls that danced were amazing! Although they were only 10, they were so composed and graceful. After the performance, we were able to try out the Anklung. The director taught us hand signals and we played a few songs. We were actually pretty good, you could recognize our songs (ABBA, The Beatles, etc.). At the very end the kids came into the crowd and picked people out to dance with them. A cute little five year old girl picked me out. The dances were a lot like the line and square dancing we did in 4th grade gym class. It was a lot of fun!

Bandung School Visit

This week all of the ETAs had the opportunity to go visit Indonesian high schools in Bandung. We split into groups based on the type of schools that we are going to be teaching in so that we could visit similar classrooms. Since I am going to be teaching at a vocation school, I visited SMKN 3 Bandung--a vocational school focusing on business and travel.
Erica and I visited a classroom of 10th graders. The class was all girls--38 of them! We sat in the corner of the room and observed their hour long lesson. The girls were giving presentations on directions for how to do things (take money out of an ATM, put a SIM card in a cell phone, send a text message, make a paper airplane, etc.). I was very impressed with their English. We have been told repeatedly that Indonesian students have a good grasp of the grammar of English, but don't really speak English. These girls spoke quite well. They were quiet and shy, but they were clear and understandable.
Everyone at the school was excited that we were there. Like all Indonesians we've met, they were so open and generous. The girls in the class I visited gave me a doll that they made from a water bottle. Isn't it cute?!?!
One of the boys from another class shared some traditional foods with us. We had a delicious banana wrapped in sticky rice and a round sort of pastry with sesame seeds on it that might be my new favorite snack.
Our visit made me very excited to start teaching! I can't wait to meet my students and learn with them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Room With A View

Outside my window I see...

Isn't it beautiful?!?!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Basics

I think it is time to give a more detailed background about where in the world I am and what the heck I'm doing there.
Let's start with where I am. First, find the continent Asia.
Next, find the country Indonesia.
Then, find the island of Java.
Look at for the center of the island. See a town named Magelang? That's where I'm going to be living for the next 9 months. Magelang is a city of around 100,000 people in the province of Central Java. It is about an hour north of the popular city Yogyakarta. Magelang is near Borobudur where there is a gigantic Buddha statue. It is also near Gunung Merapi--one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia.
What am I going to be doing there for 9 months? I have a Fulbright fellowship. I am participating in the Fulbright Foundation English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program. Essentially, I will be teaching English to high school students. The major goals of the ETA program in Indonesia include increasing the use of English as a spoken language, providing alternative ways to learn English, and increasing understanding of American culture. I will be paired with an Indonesia English teacher. We will work together in a team-teaching sort of atmosphere. Please visit the IIE Fulbright website for more information:
Right now I am in week one of a three week orientation that focuses on teaching techniques and lesson planning as well as learning basic Bahasa Indonesia. It is amazing how difficult and time-consuming it is to create effective, coherent, interesting, and dynamic lesson plans. This has made me respect my mother and all the wonderful work that she does in her classroom even more! Even though I know it will be a hard first week, I am really looking forward to getting to Magelang and meeting my students. Orientation has given me some great starting ideas that I can't wait to share in my own classroom.

Tangkuban Prahu

Yesterday we rented a car and driver for the day and drove about an hour out of Bandung to visit Tangkuban Prahu. The top of this volcano collapsed in on itself and it has not erupted since 1969. You can't hike down into this caldera because it emits poisonous gases. We hired a guide and hiked down a steep, wooded trail to Kawak Domas--a volcanic area that includes pools of boiling water, geysers, boiling mud, and sulfur caves. Did you know that sulfur crystals are the color of Juicy Fruit gum? I was literally IN a volcano! The scenery was beautiful. See for yourself:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bus Ride From Jakarta to Bandung

We had a nice long bus ride from Jakarta to Bandung yesterday. I wanted to show you some videos of the scenery (thanks to Chesh for the awesome videocamera!). Ignore the audio--it's all Michael Jackson music from the karaoke machine at the front of the bus and pointless commentary on the scenery.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Earthquake

Yesterday afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. there was an earthquake in Java, Indonesia. I was in my hotel room on the 8th floor of a 32 story building in Jakarta. I had just stood up from the table when the floor started to shake. At first I thought I was having a headrush from standing up too quickly, but when I looked up at the window I could see that the building was swaying from side to side. Earthquake! I've never been in an earthquake before and the only thing I could think of was that in movies people stand in doorways. So, I ran to the bathroom door and held on. The scariest part was the sound. I could hear the walls cracking and the plaster falling off them them. It was loud! It probably only lasted for a minute or a little more, but it felt like a long time. When it ended, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to move. I heard the other ETAs (English Teaching Assistants-I'll write more about the Fulbright program soon) in the hallway and ran out to join them. We decided that we should try to exit the building. We found a sign that said "Evacuation Route" that led to the stairs. We started down. About halfway down we ran into some Indonesians who work at the hotel. They were waving their arms at us and yelling "faster, faster". Indonesians do not raise their voices. Ever. When they started screaming we knew it was serious. We booked it down those stairs. Everyone was outside. They made us wait outside of the building to make sure that the aftershock wasn't worse than the first hit. We had to stay outside for 90 minutes. The earthquake was initially labeled a 7.4, but was later lowered to a 7.1. Luckily, no one died in Jakarta, but people were killed closer to the epicenter (off the coast of Java) and one person did die in Bandung (where I am going tomorrow). It is kind of difficult to see in these photos due to the flash, but there were cracks in all of the walls of my room when I was finally allowed back up to it.

What an introduction to the natural disasters Indonesia has to offer! But, do not worry. I am fine and now I know what to do if it happens again. It is always better to be prepared!
I'll post again soon about orientation and what I've been up to so far! Until then...