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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert said it all in Eat, Pray, Love:
"The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving."

On my way home...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

Yesterday afternoon there was an official ceremony for the teachers to bid me farewell. It was a 2.5 hour affair completely devoted to celebrating me. I'm pretty sure my face has never been so red ever. The event started with me seated in front of a room full of teachers and office staff listening to Ibu Ema translate speeches that people gave about me into English so that I could understand them. Then, it was my turn to give a speech. In a mix of English and simple Bahasa Indonesia I thanked everyone for adopting me into their lives, letting me teach their students, and making SMK N1 Magelang my second home. Then there was a long exchange of gifts. I officially gifted the board games to three student representatives. And was presented with a hoard of presents from the school. Then we had a completely vegetarian feast. All the Indonesian foods I like were there: veggie nasi goreng, lotek, cap cay, kupat tahu, etc. Everyone joked that if I was going to eat vegetables so were they. Then they agreed that they could never be vegetarians. Finally, we had a photo shoot. We took photos inside, outside, in pairs, in small groups, a whole group photo, etc. It was long, it was hot, it was embarrassing; but it was nice, sweet, and heartfelt. It gave my school closure and that was nice.
This morning I woke up at 6:00 to loud knocking and shouts outside my door. In a daze and my pajamas I opened the door to see one of my classes. They had come to give me some final presents and they sat in my house for a few minutes before saying a final goodbye. It's time to go now. I'm not a fan of these long goodbyes. There's no closure when you say goodbye to people constantly, but then keep seeing them again and again. Tomorrow I'm going to Yogyakarta to begin the trip home!


Me and Bu Mila Pak Heru, the principal, and the English teachers

The English teachers: Pak Hari, Bu Dyah, Bu Mila, me, Bu Rina, Bu Ema, Bu Aning, Pak Sugeng
Bu Dyah, Bu Ema, Bu Rina, Bu Mila, me

Thursday, May 27, 2010

When It's Over...

Today I cried. I stood in front of 36 fifteen and sixteen year old boys and cried. Before you start envisioning me sobbing publicly, I should clarify that it was only 2 tears. But still...I cried and that was something I did not want to do.
Today I taught my last class. It was my favorite class, 1 MB. 1 MB is the only class that I've taught from the beginning of my time here (I've switched classes three times). So, we've gotten close. I've done some extra projects with them that I didn't do with my other classes. For example, they keep journals. Every week at the end of class they write in their journals for 5-10 minutes. I collect the journals and write a response to each of their entries. Their journals are ongoing private conversations between the students and me. The journals demonstrate the immense improvement in their English abilities and they also have really given me more of a relationship with each of the boys. Every week I look forward to teaching their class. They make me laugh. We're comfortable with each other and they understand what I'm talking about more often than my other classes.

1 MB

To be honest, I was not looking forward to class today. I knew it would be difficult. I truly am excited to go home. That said, I will miss Indonesia. I like the teachers I work with, I love eating manggis and bakmi godog for less than $1, I enjoy living in a country where when I wake up in the morning I never know what's really going to happen during the day; but when I think about leaving all these things behind I don't feel much more than a prick of remorse and sorrow. When I think about leaving my students...I'd just rather not think about it. They are what I will miss most.
So, this morning, I walked into class and announced, "Today is our last class together. This is my last class EVER." And was gratified with a loud, "AHHHHHHHHHH!" Then we continued with our normal class. The lesson went well. The bell rang at the end and I thanked them for a wonderful 9 months. I turned my back to erase the whiteboard when they said, "Wait, Miss! We have some presents for you." And from under their desks they retrieved 4 wrapped packages. Packages obviously wrapped by boys. Packages wrapped with an absurd excess of tape. Packages wrapped in paper that said 'baby' and had pastel animals and rattles on it. That was when I cried my two tears. And while it was only two tears, my hands were shaking enough that I had to have them open the presents for me. And after lots of thank yous and another round of photos and handshakes they reluctantly left to go to their next class and I erased the white board and pulled myself together again.

Zarkasi, Danang, Anton Permana, Ma'ruf, Anang

Febri, Fajar Uut, Ricky, Dwi Cahyoko

Fahrul Umam, Nur Hasim, Azhar, Nugroho

M. Arifudin, Sarwo Edi, Saputro, Nurrohman

Andrianus, Fikri Yahya, Rifqi, Nurochman

Juni, Nurul Hadi, Imam, Imam

Willy, Fahrurrozi, Nurdiansah

Slamet, Firman, Illgner, Arif Mukti, Fatoni Imam

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Students' Last Words

This is perhaps a very self-involved post. For that I apologize. But I think my fellow ETA Christine said it perfectly when she wrote on her blog, "I never really knew how much I impacted my students. I didn't realize how closely they paid attention. They remember everything--events and lessons that happened my first month as a teacher. In fact, they remember the first day they met me."
Her realization came when she read her students' goodbye letters. My goodbye postcards led me to the same conclusion. I mean, I always knew that the students look at me closely, but I don't think I really believed that many of them actually listened and thought about what I said. But they remembered and wrote about things that I said that I forgot I said until I read their notes.
So, without further ado, a selection of my students' goodbyes:

"When you watch my class play soccer I am to be a goal kepper and you say to me god job!"

"Miss Sarah introduced us about America and many fun things. I enjoyed them. Thank's Miss Sarah. I will miss you!"

"[Remember] my smile and my first shake hand with you." [This deserves some explanation. 99% of the kids I teach are moderately conservative Muslims--by which I mean they observe the 5 times daily prayer, the girls wear jilbabs, their activities are fairly gender-segregated, etc. I have one student, or perhaps more that I haven't noticed, who is very conservative to the point that he never touches women EVER. Not even for an Indonesian handshake, not by accident, not ever. It's not that I'm in the habit of touching my students, but when I arrived I did shake all of their hands and have them tell me thier names. This boy would not touch my hand. No big deal, I respect that. We bowed to each other. On the last day of class, I gave each student a penny and I shook their hands again. Well, I came to this boy and I carefully handed him his penny making sure to sort of drop it into his hand. And I started to do the little head-bow thing when...he stuck out his hand. Rather awed, I shook his hand. It was weak and only about half our hands touched and it lasted only around 2 seconds, but it happened. I don't know what conclusion to draw, but he's correct: I will always remember that I was his first real handshake.]

"Your grand mother known an Indonesian who live in America."

"I learned about your culture. I learned about Amerika. I played American's games with you and with my classmate. So happy to study with you. We'll miss you. I hope we can meet again. With love, M----"

"Miss Sarah, with you I'm became know about America and your family, my class became fun class and happy class. With you Im can more understand."

"My class is very noisy. My friends are fuzy. I thing my class is trouble maker."

"You make us laught."

"When your family came to Magelang, I am the person who gave the question about BOSTON Tea Party to Neil." [Remember him, Neil?]

"My quality is polite and merry."

"I learn about parts of human body, sports, many verb and positive thinking."

"And thank you Miss Sarah for you goodness. In my class, and SMK N1 Magelang. And for your forbearance."

"I'm taller than you but you are cleverer than me."

"FYI, don't forget that me and some of my friends ever played UNO with you. I won't forget when you say to me 'You wear jeans when you're in the church?'...Well, I'll miss you so much...Don't forget Bakmi Jendralan and Mrs. Rion as the owner of Bakmi Jendralan...Believe it or not but you make get new spirit. Spirit for learning languages. Well, before I finish. Do you remember when we talking while we watching soccer in SMK N1? You say that Indonesian boys are very cute and short, but I said to you that they seems like 'POCKET.' And finally, I can make you laugh at the same time. I like your smile, Miss. I'll miss it... I think it's enough. Thanks for your chance. I miss you, and nice to meet you. Adios, amigo!" [Everyone knows I eat at Bakmi Jendralan...and I know they all know because SO many of them wrote about it.]

"I am the boy that my leg is hurt (not sick) hehe."

"I proud, I can know Ms. Sarah and her family."

"I am a silent. I am fat. And I am veiled."

"If you still remember, I am your match when matching a question with the answer like [drawing of a broken heart] the color of the paper is purple...In your lesson, I have studied many things. They are about America, expression for answer our condition like 'how are you?' 'I'm super', parts of body, sing many songs. And there are eight rules in the first class It my pleasure to study with you. I'm happy. Thanks for your lesson. So long, my lovely teacher."

"I hope I can visit in America actually in Vermount because I ant to meet you again Miss Sarah."

"I think you can't call my name correctly."

"About my country, here, everytime the sun shine brightly, and it can make your skin change into brown."

"And I want to say to you that I really missed you if you back to America."

"I will always remember Miss Sarah because she nice, friendly, and teach us with games method."

"New things and games you've given us. You're my 1st English teacher who brings a lot of changing in English lesson."

"I'll not forget when in my class there is Miss Sarah because she is very beautiful."

"I am very friendly and crazy. I love you and I will always remember with you. Miss Sarah will unforgetable in my heart."

"I am not handsome but I am is funny."

"English is my life."

"It's me. Spike hair, good eyes, always come late to go to class, I'm shy boy, I always smile when you look at me..."

"It's me: Take me out Indonesia (The name you called to me)...I am very happy when you here but you must go back to your country. I wish you succes there. I hope we can met again." [Actually, I called him 'Take me outta Indonesia"...long story.]

"I learn about jokes in America. We learned by Miss Sarah about that with match two pieces of paper."

"I know 1MA is a well class in the meet firs student always absent, but now student no absent in your lesson and student become diligent and smart."

"I'm slim and tall like is coconut tress."

"The lesson of Miss Sarah always be color full with games and I like."

"I am the mustache and beard boy."

"I learn about Valentine's day, sports, plants, and game."

"I learn speak English. Now I am can speak English."

"I love my teachers, included you Sarah."

"Miss Sarah is very peatient."

"If I to meet Miss Sarah, my class very fun. Many game, smile, song, etc."

"She like telling a story and singing together. I like Miss Sarah."

"I like Miss Sarah because she is cute and smart."

"Miss Sarah always make ours happy."

"I think study is must for me. So, if I study I feel very happy. Miss Sarah is one of the teacher with very good for me. She has says 'you are cute students.' So, I feel very interisting if I study with her."

"Learning English with Miss Sarah is easy."

"Goodbye Miss Sarah. Nice to meet you! We love you! 1EA, SMK N1 Magelang, and Indonesia will never forget you."

"Miss Sarah is teacher fun."

"May you not forget we in Indonesia."

"I am like if Sarah angry Miss Sarah can lion."

"English is adventure to me."

"I'm so funny study with Miss Sarah because she is confidant and she like to lough."

"Happy moment play a game."

"I learn about respect." [WOW!]

"English is my favorite lesson."

"Miss Sarah give me many education."

"I like Miss Sarah because the studying is happy. Miss Sarah is energetic. Many game with she. So, I'm not bored."

"I'm small and I'm black sweet. I'm cute and enough handsome."

"I like Miss Sarah's lesson when the event of Halloween's party."

"Miss Sarah is teacher profesional."

"Miss you so much my teacher! You will always be in my memories!"

"Miss Sarah is a joker. She often make me laught. I love her so much. She is also friendly teacher, good teacher, and the teacher which full of smile. I like her so much!! If I may to say honestly...I will saying...I really really really really really really really really REALLY LOVE you Miss Sarah, you are the one cute teacher I have till the day I die. You will always in my mind!!"

Will you remember ME?

1 EB
1 LC
1 EA
1 MA

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Do you love we fourever, Miss?"

This week was my last week teaching 5 of my 10 classes. Next week is primarily devoted to tying up loose ends, packing, eating my fill of tempe, and generally saying goodbye to everyone. Still, I felt that if I didn't teach at all I would go crazy with an overabundance of free time and decided to teach half-time.
As a final small assignment I gave my students each an index card and asked them to write me a "postcard." I asked them to write down one thing they hoped I would remember--and share with my family and friends in America--about them, their class, their school, and Indonesia. Then I asked them to write one thing that they learned from our time together either about English or about the US. Finally, they could add any last questions or things they wanted to tell me.
I got a very wide range of postcards. Some of the students wrote that they wanted me to remember that they were a boy...not likely that I will forget that obvious detail. Some got the point and were detailed enough that I know exactly who they are: "I am is a boy. I am tall, fat and brown skin" or "I'm not clever, but I'm very funny, likes drawing on the table, and a little handsome." They urged me to remember a variety of things about their school and country including: beautiful places like Bali and Bunaken, delicious food like tempe and kupat tahu, traditional dances, that SMK N1 has the international standard ranking, that there are many trees here and lots of rain, etc. They claimed to learn a lot about American holidays, games, and food in addition to how to ask questions in English, how to pronounce "th", how to sing many English songs, etc. They asked last minute questions about verb tenses, about special tricks to learning English, about my contact information, and many questions about my leaving. Those about my leaving are the kind of questions that are the hardest to answer and the ones that make me not want to leave. "Why you want to leave us anyway?" Well, I have a life in America...it's my home. "You come back when?" I don't know...probably not for a very, very long time. "Do you love we fourever Miss?" How could I not?
2 OA
1 LA
2 LB
2 MB
2 MC

Graduation

This Wednesday was the graduation for the third class of SMK N1 Magelang. I don't teach the third class and I only know a handful of those students personally. Still, when I was invited to attend the graduation ceremony I was game. I was interested to see what the event would be like. Long, hot, and not that interesting turns out...similar to US graduations.
It was around 4 hours long and took place in a stifling room jam-packed with 2,000 people. Most of the time I concentrated mostly on not letting myself pass out. Each of the 550 or so students was called on stage and had a sort of medallion put around their neck. There were several long speeches in Bahasa Indonesia and lots of different academic and industry awards were presented. The girls from the first class sang 4 or 5 songs--all of which were lovely. The ceremony ended with a flashback to Halal Bi Halal and my own personal nightmare--a handshake line of the teachers so that the students could all shake our hands in farewell. Released back into the fresh air, I could breathe again and hold a smile on my face for all the pictures people wanted to take. I'd been told to dress up and my 'fancy' dress and mascara were a big hit.
Ibu Mila, one of my teaching partners, is the cutest little woman. She's currently about 5 months pregnant and incredibly self-conscious about her newly protruding belly. Ibu Murwani and some of the graduates.
The female graduates wore traditional Indonesian kebayas. They all looked absolutely gorgeous. Although, I can't imagine they were very comfortable in their hot clothes and towering heels.
Augustine and Ibu Mila. Augustine is one the graduates that I do know fairly well. She studied in the Electrical department. Her English is very good and she is a sweet girl. She is one of the few students from SMK N1 who will be going to college next year.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday Morning Workout

Every Friday morning there is a mandatory school-wide [that means students and teachers] workout session for the first hour of the day. The theme of the exercise rotates week by week. Some weeks we go for a leisurely stroll around the town. Some weeks the students play soccer and the teachers jog. Some weeks we run laps around the school. And then comes my favorite week of the month - aerobics week. Imagine 2,500 children and adults "mouse-ercising" [remember that back in elementary school? aerobics with Mickey Mouse music?]. They blare a loud mix of Indonesian and American music. There is a hired aerobics instructor who stands on a platform leading the activity by example and by enthusiastic yelps and screaming encouragements. Surprisingly, everyone gets really into the aerobics. Both teachers and students go all out jumping and swinging their arms without restraint. Watching aerobics is one of the highlights of my month. Maybe it sounds rude, but nothing makes me laugh as hard. [I would feel bad about this, but considering how often people laugh at everything I do and 'surreptitiously' take photos of me without asking...Fair is fair.]

video

video

You'll have to forgive my cackling during the videos. These videos aren't the best of the aerobics. I missed most of it and this is their cool down, which is much calmer and less energetic than the rest of the workout. Still, it gives you a little insight into what I'm talking about. Enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

ETA TFLN

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the website Texts From Last Night. For those of you who aren't, TFLN is a website where people can post text messages that they have sent or received. Texts are posted anonymously, but identified by area code. The texts generally focus on 1. sex 2. alcohol/drugs 3. ridiculous things. It is very college, but entertaining.
For example:
(203): The dean held back my hair as I was puking after graduation. That means so much more than a diploma and a handshake.

Some of the ETAs and I were discussing the website and saying that one of the reasons we enjoy occasionally reading it is that posted texts are so far from applying to our current lives. We said that if we were to create an ETA version, the majority of our posted texts would focus on 1. disgusting things we find in our houses 2. people inappropriately hitting on us 3. ridiculously odd situations we get forced into. Here are some sample texts [some real, some fake though based on real situations] from Indonesia ETAs:

(+62): the cat pooped on my couch. again.

(+62): 3 foot long monitor lizard being hacked to death in my living room. can't talk right now.

(+62): exactly how bad is it to eat bugs?

(+62): ants in my bed. cockroaches under it. rats in kitchen. giant lizard in living room. i live in a zoo.

(+62): what should we name my parasite?

(+62): i dont wanna close my eyes i dont wanna fall a sleep cz i.d miss u baby.. N i dont wanna miss a thing cz even when i dream of u the sweetest dream would nv do i.d still miss u baby,. i l0ve u, n hve a nice dream,

(+62): u beautiful smart young girl. i lucky have u my special friend. i can to your house now?

(+62): apparently i'm the guest lecturer at this english conference. thanks for the heads up bu.

(+62): just confiscated porn of women in jilbabs. now what do i do?

(+62): how do you politely tell 'bus "stop cheating! i can see you and i'm not stupid"?

(+62): 3 video cameras taping my class. i hate my life.

(+62): 12 year old girl just sang to me in front of 200 people. i feel dirty.

Please feel free to add your own ETA Indonesia TFLN!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's All Fun and Games

I have had a great Fulbright grant experience. Much of that is due to my school--SMK N1 Magelang. I wanted to thank my school for hosting me and for taking care of me during my time here. I had brought gifts for teachers and students, but I wanted to give something to the school as a whole. My cousin Michelle, who taught in Honduras, had the great idea to give my school an assortment of games. So when my parents came to visit in April they brought a suitcase full of assorted games. We're talking: Scrabble, Connect-Four, Battleship, UNO, Scrabble Slam, MasterMind, Jenga, etc! Lots of fun.
I had to make the games at least semi-educational to use them in class. So I gave the kids the boxes with the instructions in English. I made them try to work out the instructions first and then helped them if they needed it. Once they figured out how to play, I had them write their own instructions for the games in Bahasa Indonesia. The point was to leave the games with instructions in Indonesian so that everyone at the school will be able to play. We had a lot of fun playing the games in small groups. I'm not sure that many of them had ever played board games before. Now every class they ask if we can play again.
Battleship was by far the most coveted game to play. Bloody-minded teenage boys. The directions weren't easy though and even I had to read them twice before I could sufficiently explain the game.
Andrianus puzzles out the directions for Connect-Four. This was another popular choice. I hypothesize that the bigger the box, the more they want to play that game.
Scrabble Slam is a card version of Scrabble. It is surprisingly a lot of fun and one of the more educational of the games since it forces them to practice spelling and word recall. One of the boys was very amused to tell me that his girlfriend's name is Jenga. Jenga was very popular because it made the most noise.

At first I worried that Scrabble would be too difficult because it is a complicated and sophisticated vocabulary game. After a bit of explaining and demonstrating on my part, all of the students were able to play. Not only able to play, but excited to play. They even came up with some words that surprised me!

UNO is so classic. Everyone loves UNO, how could you not? It is easy and fun. If I was going to pick a game to play, it would be UNO for sure!

The Beginning of the End

If you didn't previously know, you can see from the above photo that I'm returning to the USA in 17 days. Frankly, I was uncertain whether to end my last sentence with an exclamation point or a sad face. I'm conflicted about my imminent departure. On the one hand, I'm over being here. I honestly feel like I accomplished what I set out to do during my Fulbright grant period. I've taught English, I've learned Bahasa Indonesia, I've made friends inside and outside of my school, I've learned more about Indonesia than I can tell you. I sometimes feel like now I'm in a holding pattern; treading water until I move on to the next step. The next step is graduate school and I'm excited to start learning again. I'm tired of being in a place that is where I live, but never where I 100% belong. I miss my friends and my family. In so many ways, I'm ready to leave Indonesia and return to the United States, my home.
On the other hand, I am very sad to be leaving. I love Indonesia! I love that every day is an adventure. I enjoy the sense of excitement that I feel every day. I will miss teaching--for I've found that I really do enjoy teaching ESL. Most of all, I will really miss my students. They are sweet and kind, silly and curious, bold and gracious. They make me feel like what I'm doing is important--that I'm impacting someone. They make me laugh. They make me blush. They make me feel effortlessly beautiful and special. They are accepting of all my cultural/teaching missteps and fumblings. Their acceptance gives me confidence. We have learned together. I think that is a powerful gift. They can at times still puzzle me. I don't know why they sometimes yell over me in class or why no one ever does their homework and I'm still not used to boys sitting on other boys' laps in class. At the end of the day, I will seriously miss them. I will miss the moments when I feel profoundly alive teaching them--those FLOW moments Bruce Crowley taught us about. I will miss their laughter and their enthusiasm. I will miss their eager little faces constantly peering at, and following, me. I wish I could see into the future and see how they turn out. What will become of them? And I guess that is what makes leaving so difficult...I probably will never know. I'll leave here and it will be like I fell off their planet. They won't have the opportunity to leave Indonesia and it is unlikely I will find them if/when I return. They will be lost to me--absorbed back into their villages. And that hurts. I'm proud of them. I'm invested in their triumphs. I want to know what they do with their lives, I want to see what they make of themselves. I want to continue to be proud of them, even from afar, even from America.
Everyone is starting to panic about my departure. That was why I made the window countdown so that they would all be forewarned and have time to adjust to the idea. In the week since I've put it up I've constantly been receiving invitations to lunch, dinner, to visit people's houses; having my picture taken ["one last time miss!"]; being asked to sign things; and being given gifts. Once again, I am awed by the generosity and depth of feeling that people here possess. Class 1EC, which I taught last semester, asked my Ibu if they could come to my house before I left. She told them to come on Thursday because it was a holiday. So this morning, 26 students from 1 EC squashed into my house [there is no comfortable way for my house to fit that many people]. For two hours we played the boardgames that my parents brought for me to give as a departing gift to SMK N1. It was strange and fun for me to see them in normal clothes. The house was full of laughter as they played the games.
After they had tried out all of the games, they presented me with a beautiful piece of hand painted batik. Most batik these days is printed with stamps, but this is the traditional, hand painted kind. It is gorgeous--full of small purple flowers--easily the most lovely batik I've gotten here. I gave them each a penny taped to the "find a penny, pick it up..." poem.
Before they could leave, we obviously had to have a photo shoot outside. We took group photos, we took all-girl and all-boy photos, and then we took individual photos. We took photos until everyone was happy.
Before they all left, they each shook my hand and "salaam"-ed me [I know that's not what it is actually called because 'salaam' is a greeting, but people are always telling their children to "Salaam Miss Sarah" so that's what I refer to it as. What I mean is that they take your hand and press it to their forehead or cheek. It's a sign of respect.]. It usually makes me uncomfortable when they do it. I'm not old enough to be an elder and although I'm their teacher I'm closer in age to them than I am to any of the other teachers. I want them to feel like my equals, not like they must obey me. Today it felt natural. It felt like a proper ending to our day and to our time here together. And that makes me hopeful that when the time comes to leave it will somehow feel right.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Need a Pet?

If you're searching for the wild, the exotic, the rare, or the just plain strange; start looking at Yogyakarta's bird market--Pasar Ngasem. You never know what you'll find wandering through those narrow streets.
As its name suggests, the bird market offers many different species of birds. Chickens, canaries, small song birds, parrots, and many other birds are on display. Some of the birds can sing. Some of the birds can talk. They come in all different colors and sizes. Isn't this little blue one just adorable?They even offer owls! I've wanted a pet owl since I started reading Harry Potter books in 6th grade. Seeing them for sale instantly gave me the awesome vision of me teaching my classes with my tiny owl, Artemis, perched on my shoulder. Artemis would correct me when I made English mistakes. Sadly, back in the real world, 1. owls don't talk and 2. there is probably a 0%chance that US customs would let me bring an Indonesian owl into the states. Dreams dashed.The bird market also boasts other flying creatures...like fruit bats. This is a baby fruit bat. The adults are much larger.There were also small rodents and mammals like this squirrel-like creature. It had an impressively long jump. Also for sale: rats and mice. As if there aren't enough of those available for free in every home here.Moving on to reptiles, they had a nice selection of all scaly things. Green lizards, brown lizards, chameleons, snakes...
Miniature monitor lizards--read: komodo dragon family and the monster that invaded tall Sarah and Alexa's house in Gorontalo.
And of course, you can't forget your nice buckets of worms or maggots! Who doesn't want those?
Also available for purchase were cats, dogs, rabbits, an assortment of tropical fish, ants, and a porcupine. Who knows what else there was that I didn't even see!
Happy pet shopping!

Magelang Royalty

Two weeks ago my presence was "requested" at the Women's Meeting by the Walikota's wife. The Walikota is essentially the mayor of Magelang. He's kinda omnipotent and his power extends to his wife. She demanded my presence rather than requested it. Now, I'm sure this is my Western upbringing rearing it's ugly head, but I rather dislike and resent being commanded to do anything. This is unfortunate because Indonesian society is very power-structure/"respect your superiors" oriented and I'm commanded to do things quite frequently. I've learned to swallow my response and proceed as demurely as possible. Unless it's something that I really don't want to do. I really did not want to go to this Women's Meeting. I was tired and feeling ill and did not want to sit through 3-4 hours of women talking in Javanese and pose for 100s of photos and struggle to keep a smile pasted on my face. Theoretically, being personally invited by the Walikota's wife was a huge honor, but I still wasn't into it. I pointed this out to my principal...And an hour later I was being videotaped walking into the Women's Meeting.
Ibu Murwani, a SMK N1 math teacher, was sent to accompany me. I was grumpy and trying to suppress it until we arrived and I was told that it was going to be a batik show designed and modelled by SMK K Magelang--our sister vocational school where girls learning cooking, beauty, and sewing. That sounded much better than listening to Javanese lectures on feminine hygiene or how to properly care for a household. I started to relax. I had my picture taken with all the important people of Magelang--Mr. & Mrs. Walikota, Mr. & Mrs. Wakil Walikota [vice mayor], Mr. & Mrs. Head of Police, the list goes on and on. There was a lengthy photoshoot of me with Mr. & Miss Magelang. Seriously. The city voted on the two most attractive 20-somethings and make them dress up and greet people at events like this to promote tourism and the wonders that are Magelang. The tourism office thought it would have double the effect if I was shoved in with them too.
Miss Magelang, me, Runner-up Miss Magelang [They look just about as thrilled as I felt to have all these pictures taken]

Mr. Magelang, Miss Magelang, me, Runner-up Miss Magelang, Runner-up Mr. Magelang [Mr. Magelang is actually pretty cute. Where has he been hiding these last 8 months?]

Despite the unnecessary amount of photos, I was enjoying the event. There was a booth where this nice little old lady showed me how to make batik. Ibu Murwani and I each bought a batik sarong courtesy of SMK N1. Thanks Pak Heru! Then it was time for the fashion show to start. As the first SMK K models hit the stage, all my comfort fled. Batik show it was...batik lingerie show!?!? Something of the sort. The girls were wearing little tiny batik shirts and batik bustiers. They were strutting their stuff on the catwalk. And everyone was enjoying it...everyone except me. I was sitting there thinking, How is this okay? This is a Muslim country, this is definitely a Muslim town, and these are 15-17 year old girls, in bustiers, on a catwalk. There are men in this room, people are taking photos, and no one is bothered? This is not Yogya, this is not a cosmopolitan city; this is the place where I can't wear sleeveless shirts or my hair down in public because that is too risque. The female portion of the audience was all wearing jilbabs. I was, and still am, confounded. The show ended and I left feeling rather dirty and confused. I heard people on the way out talking about the creativity and the beauty of the designs. Many people were having their photos taken with the models. I wanted to wrap them all in batik sarongs. Maybe conservatism has rubbed off on me, but I couldn't help feeling that these high school girls were being exploited. They didn't look upset--they looked happy. But how is it okay to wear lingerie in a fashion show when the other 99% of the time you get criticized for showing your elbows?

MONGGO Chocolate Factory

This may be heaven on Earth! This Friday Lolly and I went to the MONGGO chocolate factory in Kota Gede, Jogjakarta! MONGGO is the only good chocolate that we've found in Indonesia and it is delicious! And expensive; which makes it a rare treat. MONGGO is made from Indonesian cocoa beans from both Sumatra and Java. The founder of the company is Belgian, but the workers are all Indonesian women.
It is a rare occurance to visit the factory when they are in production, but we lucked out! It wasn't quite as cool as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--mostly due to the lack of oompa loompas. It was still really cool to watch the women pour big dippers full of melted chocolate into molds and then pipe them full of filling. Lolly and I stood gaping at the workers until they started to gape back at us [probably no one has ever watched them for such a long period of time before]. We finally pried ourselves away to visit the gift shop for our free samples. Of course I thought of Chesh the whole time--the wonderful Aunt who first introduced me to the delicious world of chocolate! If I ever find myself jobless with no immediate prospects, I'm moving back to Yogya to work at MONGGO! We were behind glass so my pictures aren't that great, but here is the room where the chocolate is put into molds and filling added. MONGGO makes bars with nuts, strawberry jam, ginger, praline, and other flavors.
Those big pots are full of melted chocolate. Lolly and I debated the intelligence of begging for one, but in the end decided to settle for our free sample and the many factory-discounted bars we bought!