Saturday, 4 September 2010

7 months in Indonesia

This week has marked my first seven months in Indonesia. It has been interesting so far and I'm happy to say that I've enjoyed it for the most part. I've just decided to accept life here at its own pace and take things as they come. The students here are cool for the most part and if you get by the issues of lateness and laziness then all is fine. Sometimes though the extremity of lateness or laziness can be beyond frustrating and even astounding... I had a student turn up late on Thursday, she was nearly two hours late for a two hour lesson! Although she smiled and was really happy about it and just gave me some bullshit excuse about being stuck in traffic.

Teaching teenagers recently has been somewhat of a balancing act. At the moment I have a very high-level class who are essentially studying at a university level and while they get on with it for the most part it can be struggling to motivate them. I have resorted to giving them extended breaks and time to listen to music on youtube to breakup the monotony of learning academic English for them. It's pretty cool sometimes and I have seen plenty of clips on youtube of random Indonesians lipsynching to terrible pop songs... the only real bonus is that I'm being paid for it! While my high-level students appreciate the downtime my lower-level teenagers need pushing and encouragement.

I have two students that are above the level of the rest of the class in my lower ability group. They are cool and ultimately catch a lot of flak in the way of banter from me. One girl is incredibly sarcastic and actually pretty good in English but needs to constantly be reminded that she is not as clever as she thinks she is. Without being nasty - I could be incredibly personal - I can imagine that she is defensive because of her body shape. I guess the best way to describer her physical appearance would be somewhere along the lines of an Indonesian Swamp Thing. Although she kind of reminds me of the Incredible Hulk too! I sometimes find myself whispering "Hulk smash!" when she rolls dice in board games... Besides that I do actually encourage them to learn and have seen progress in some of the students. That being said however I can't help but make jokes about one of the boy's names. Who calls their 16 year old son Wendy?! One of my favourite quotes from my classroom in the last month or so is: "Wendy is a unisex name!". I'm only playing but I guess sometimes it's in the best interests of the teacher to avoid humiliating students, so I'm trying to reduce my mocking...

Speaking of humiliation I've kind of started resorting to that as a means of teaching my very young learners. But humiliating myself instead! I'm the first to admit that I'm not particularly great at teaching young kids but I have started enjoying it. I tend to blow a lot of raspberries and feign high-fives to wind the children up. I've also taught a few of them to blow raspberries themselves and then point at each other. I'm sure that goes down brilliantly with their strict Chinese-Indonesian parents! I've earned a moniker from two classes now. They call me "Badut Gendut"... loosely translated into English as Fat Clown! Nevermind as long as the kids are learning their basic vocab and structures and having fun the school seem to be happy about it.

The end of this week was marked with a meeting known as the seven month review. Nothing productive came of it as the school hasn't really changed I've just become tired of complaining about things the school has no interest in changing. I've been asked about my feelings towards the management and the response I gave was kind of empty... I don't really have any. I am just content now to do the best I can given the circumstances on a class by class basis.

On a final note this is my last post before I leave for Ujung Kulon on Wednesday! I'm going trekking, canoeing and snorkling in coastal rainforest on the far western tip of Java and then hopefully visiting a traditional tribe called the Badui! If I have time I want to climb a small mountain called Gunung Honje to try and get a closer look at the Javan Gibbon. I've seen it in the wild twice now in Gunung Halimun and Carita but they were always to high in the trees to get a close look or a decent photo :(

Peace x

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