Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Miss Sarah Daily Activity"

I've never been into reality t.v.. It's just not my thing. Most of it is either incredibly boring or amazingly stupid. I'll admit, I get sucked into The Girls Next Door as often as anyone...I mean, who doesn't want to know what it's like to live with Hugh Hefner?...but really I'd rather see something else if I'm going to watch television. I have also always adamantly sworn that I will never be on a reality t.v. show. Most of the people on those shows either have serious undiagnosed issues or are incredibly narcissistic and out of touch with reality. I do not need to subject myself to that atmosphere.
Between my classes this morning the principal called me and asked me to meet him in his office. He is giving a presentation in English next week and I assumed he wanted more help with his pronunciation [I am a qualified 'native speaker' you know]. So when I arrived and he said, "the cameras are coming now," I was confused.
"What cameras?"
"For Miss Sarah Daily Activity!"
"Miss Sarah Daily Activity! ... Your t.v. show."
"EXCUSE ME?!?!?!"
"Yes. The cameras follow you in your daily activity. When you get up in the morning, when you eat lunch, when you go buy something in the market, maybe sometime you take a bus to Yogyakarta and they will come with you. You show us your good habits. How you be healthy. And they go to all your classes! Every class. All of Java can learn English with Miss Sarah!" He looks at me as if this was the obvious explanation.
At this point my eyes have glazed over and I've gone into a catatonic shock state. In my mind I see myself in my completely Indo-inappropriate pajamas brushing my teeth at my kitchen sink with 2 video cameras manned by 8 Indonesians aimed at my face. I am horrified. I manage to stutter, "All of my classes?"
"All class you teach before you go to America! The people learn English with Miss Sarah! Maybe in Semarang and Surabaya and Jakarta. They want to know Miss Sarah and her lesson. And you will be actress. You put on your big bag [referring to my backpacker's pack] and walk like you arrive here today. Everyone will see your life!"
I'm struggling to understand. What did I do to deserve this? All of my classes? Most of my classes are at best rowdy and barely managable...add cameras to the mix and I predict complete chaos. My daily activities? My daily activities are not that interesting...even to me. What the heck happened to privacy? And permission? How can they expect to produce a television show without even asking the star if she wants to be in it? This is a cruel punishment for me and for the Indonesian public. No one should be subjected to seeing my sweaty, red-faced body if they can avoid it. Also, this is definitely a breach of my Fulbright contract. I'm only allowed to teach at my school. This can not be happening. This is some kind of joke. I can not let this happen.
I calmly and firmly replied, "No".
The principal looked at me in bewilderment. First, people do not say no to the principal. His word is the ultimate command...sort of like King Henry VIII. Second, he clearly thought something had been lost in his explanation. Why wouldn't I want to do this? So he called in my Ibu. She explained again what they wanted. There was no misunderstanding. They had signed me up for an island-wide television show titled Miss Sarah Daily Activity and they wanted to start filming today.
"No. This is not okay."
My Ibu relayed this to the principal by telling him that I didn't want to do it. Not only did I not want to do this, not only did the mere idea of this make me want to gag, but there was no way Fulbright would be okay with this.
"No. It's not me! It's AMINEF [Fulbright in Indonesia]. AMINEF will not allow this. I am only supposed to teach at your school. I am special for this school. No one else is allowed in my classes. If you want to do this you must ask permission first from AMINEF." When in doubt, pin it on the authorities.
It took a good 20 minutes to convince them that I was serious. They finally agreed to talk to AMINEF. The 'cameras' were called and told "maybe next week" [not if I have anything to say about it]. I went back to class, head on a swivel, keeping an eye out for any cameras tracking my progress.
Just when you think your life can't get any stranger...they want to make it into a reality television show!


  1. Do you think Dish Network will pick up the show? Oh, my...
    Mum xoxo

  2. Sarah:

    You have to do this and we want copies of all the shows. You might get to be more famous than the sturgeon guy in Vermont!!!
    And I thought my life was strange.
    Have fun with it!! Luv Dad

  3. No way!!!! That is hilarious. I'm glad you said no, though. Can you imagine being filmed IN YOUR HOUSE?? I can't believe they planned an entire show to be aired all over Java starring you and didn't even tell you, but that's Indo for you!

  4. I think I'd have been tempted to do the show, but that's just my inner celebrity trying to escape. I also think that very soon I'd have regretted this decision.

  5. Talk about boring television... Love and miss you.