American Holidays in Indonesia: A Review of 2015

With six official religions marking the calendars of every Indonesian, there is no shortage of state-recognized holidays for ETAs to partake in during their grant. From the religious Idul Adha to the secular National Armed Forces Day, ETAs participated in a surprising number of holidays at their sites in the first half of the grant. While participating in local celebrations is a great way to get to know the culture, bringing American holidays to Indonesia is another way to connect with the community.

This year’s cohort of ETAs follows in the footsteps of ETAs from past years. In 2012 and 2013, Indonesiaful showcased Halloween celebrations across Indonesia. Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday, also has a history of being celebrated by those who are far from home. Past ETAs have shared Indonesian versions of Thanksgiving recipes and stories of bringing Thanksgiving to their sites as well as how they have found (commercialized) Christmas cheer and other Christmas celebrations in Indonesia.

What follows is a special selection of highlights of how ETAs brought American holidays to Indonesia in 2015.


ETA Samantha Slattery, placed in Kendal, helped the English club of MAN Kendal celebrate their first Halloween at her home by making spooky masks and carving watermelons!

36- Sam, Halloween

37- Sam, Halloween

ETA Shalina Omar, placed in Manado, threw a Halloween Party for her English Club students. They played a matching memory card game, drew Jack-o-Lanterns, played “Pin the Boo on the Ghost”, made tissue ghosts, and wrapped each other up in Mummy Wrap. It was a blast and everyone had a lot of fun celebrating this spooky American Holiday.

2- Shalina, Halloween Vocab

5- Shalina, Mummy Competition

4- Shalina, Halloween in the Classroom

On Halloween night in Manado, Samantha Geary and Shalina Omar threw a small Halloween party on the roof of their kost for the neighborhood kids. They drew masks, ate candy, and got to feel gross things like braaaains (cold noodles), eyebaaaallsss (peeled longan–a lychee-like fruit), and guttttsssss (jelly). Sam and Shalina felt it was awesome to be able to hang out with the local children and share a bit of American spooky fun with them.

1- Shalina, Guts and Eyeballs and Stuff

ETA Clara Summers, placed in Malang, in cooperation with her co-teacher/counterpart Ibu Ratna Nur’aini, organized a party for all students at SMAN 7 Malang. The party was complete with pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, and American candy. In order to get a piece of the coveted candy, students had to fill out an English worksheet about Halloween. Some students came in costume, and even the lunch ladies joined in the fun. Clara terrified her students by hopping around as pocong, and English teachers Ibu Ratna and Ibu Dewi were very stylish witches. Clara and her sitemate Camille Ungco did their best to teach Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but were quickly upstaged by a student who knew it better than they did. Overall, over 50 people participated in the Halloween Party, which will hopefully become a tradition in years to come.

From left to right: Ibu Ratna, Camille Ungco, and Clara Summers (dressed as pocong).

From left to right: Ibu Ratna, Camille Ungco, and Clara Summers (dressed as pocong).

15- Clara,Halloween 6

13- Clara, Halloween 4

Abby Snyder and Hiram Reynolds, sitemates in Mataram on Lombok, as well as their English Club students from SMKN 4 and MAN 2 took part in a spook-tastic English club Halloween party. The party was organized and hosted by Marcella Angel, English Teaching Fellow at the University of Mataram. Students were able to carve watermelon-o-lanterns, watch scary movie clips, play “Pin the Boo on the Ghost,” eat fake fingers (rice cakes in the shape of fingers) and enjoy live music. In preparation for this joint Halloween festival, the students of SMKN 4’s English Club made scary paper-mache Halloween masks out of locally available materials!

34- Abby, Halloween

33-Abby, Halloween


ETA Rebecca Selin hosted a Thanksgiving event on November 26, 2015 for the three English extracurriculars at SMK Negeri 2 Bandar Lampung: English club, English Drama and Writing Club, and English MC Club. She provided food and activities for the afternoon event.

The event was held in the common area of Rebecca’s kosan (boarding house). In attendance were students from all three clubs as well as English Club advisor, Ibu Sulistiyani. After sharing what they were thankful for, the participants tried a few American favorites like garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. Then, the students had some fun making hand turkeys. They also added humorous speech bubbles in English!


Every Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m., sitemates/housemates Caitlin Jordan and Kelly Fitzgerald teach English to interested children in Bukit Tani, their neighborhood in Pangkal Pinang. On the evening of Thanksgiving, Caitlin and Kelly decided to do a special class to teach the children about this special American holiday. They assisted the children, who are ages 5 to 10 years old, in creating hand turkeys and writing things they are thankful for in the feathers.



For the week leading up to Thanksgiving, all of the classes at Insan Cendekia in Gorontalo, Salawesi were Thanksgiving themed! Kelsey Roggensack and her co-teachers taught a short lesson on the history of the holiday, along with the controversy in celebrating Thanksgiving. The students then made a traditional Thanksgiving craft, hand turkeys! They were able to practice English by forming complex sentences on the fingers/feathers of the hand turkey about different parts of their life for which they are thankful and why they are thankful. The photo is of the male students in the 10 mia 3 class making hand turkeys.

Kelsey 8


On December 18th, Christian students and teachers at SMK Negeri Binaan in Medan held the third annual school-wide Christmas celebration. Mirroring the confessional composition of Medan as a city, the school has a significant Christian minority, and celebrations like this help members of all religious groups at the school to feel accepted and valued. The celebration included skits on love and acceptance, scripture readings, hymns–and a stirring but off-key rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” by Izaak Earnhardt, the ETA at the site.



Mackenzie Findlay, an ETA inPalangkaraya, Kalimantan, attended her school’s annual Christmas Celebration on December 19th. Students, parents, and teachers filled the auditorium and were treated to chorus performances from each grade, skits, traditional Dayak dances, and a gift exchange. Mackenzie joined her fellow teachers in singing a traditional Dayak song in front of everyone, as well as leading the English teachers in an English song. Mackenzie enjoyed seeing her students out of uniform, meeting their parents, and getting an opportunity to celebrate Christmas!

Mackenzie 1

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