Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 5: Open House, A cappella, Cooking...School

This week, Indonesia is feeling very normal. I've become more than accustomed to the food (which I love more each week). I fill my plate or bowl at every meal, mix everything together, add alot of sambal (a chili paste), and eat everything in about 4 minutes.

I'm doing an open house thing on Tuesday nights, inviting the boys to come hang out while we play music and chess and cook American food. The first one was this week. I made pasta with eggs and stir fried broccoli and green peppers, in a bolognese sauce. Students stared at the map of the USA, played guitar while blasting All-American Rejects, and were generally contented to "party," as they called it. "Let's having a party!!!" was frequently spoken throughout the hour or so that students were hanging out. Here's some pictures:

I also had the first two rehearsals of an a cappella group, whose name is yet to be decided. I chose 10 students who showed some promise out of a group of 25. We have 6 boys and 4 girls, or more accurately, 6 baritones and 4 altos. But we're making do. Rehearsal is slow going, but the students are talented and they sound great. They just aren't used to reading music or singing in parts this way. I had them choose some songs last week. They selected 1, 2, 3, 4 by the Plain White Tees, a song by Avril Lavigne about missing you, and that song When You Believe about hope being frail but hard to kill. So over last weekend I put together an easier 4-part arrangement of 1, 2, 3, 4 and we got started. We've sludged through most of it this week. I want to find something even easier to introduce next week just to work on the concepts of chords and tuning.

I also realized this morning that I haven't written a whole lot about my actual job of teaching. I teach 20 hours per week, the maximum allowed by the Fulbright program here in Indonesia. I teach two classes on Mondays, one on Tuesdays, three on Wednesdays, and four on Thursdays. I teach 8 classes once and one class twice. These classes make up the entirety of the tenth and eleventh grades at Dwiwarna.
Whenever I'm teaching, I'm really working with another teacher as an assistant. I assist three teachers: Ibu (meaning mother, but used as something like Mrs. here) Cucu (pronounced choo-choo like a train whistle), Pak (father, but again used as something like Mr.) Aris, and Pak Rezki. They are each assigned different parts of the English curriculum. Pak Aris teaches grammar, Pak Rezki teaches things like narratives and showing sympathy, and Ibu Cucu teaches things like introductions, invitations, and announcements.
Each class period runs about 80 minutes broken into two 40-minute periods. Generally, the other teachers will go into their bit, with occasional modeling, visual aid, explanation, elaboration, or other assistance from me, followed by some time where I get to "do my thing," whatever that means. This week, it meant having the students write letters to Barack Obama, talking about their hopes for Indonesian-US foreign relations and their wants of him as president. After I received the letters, I read them through and we discussed about common points that students brought up. Many students asked Obama to help the poor, to end war (especially in Palestine, as they strongly empathize with the Muslims there), and to (correspondingly) bring about world peace. We talked about links to Islamic values evident in the Dwiwarna student letters. I think they enjoyed it and it was interesting for me to see what they had to say.
Each week I'll do some activity or game akin to this with goals of getting students to speak in class, have fun, and share or engage cultures. And that's pretty much my job. I've been enjoying it enough that I think I'll pursue teaching high school students next year in the US.

I brought Tuesday night's meal to the kitchen again for lunch today. This is what Friday morning usually looks like for me - good food, some guava juice, and my trusty computer. This is home for 7 more months:

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