Halloween is one of the best U.S. holidays to celebrate abroad because there are endless ways to share the spooky culture! Fulbright ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) in Indonesia kicked off the holiday season with pumpkin and watermelon carving, Halloween parties, costumes and much, much more. We asked several ETAs how they celebrated the U.S. holiday with their schools and students.
Mei Lin Pratt — Manado, North Sulawesi
I spent my Halloween at my school, SMA Eben Haezar, doing fun Halloween quizzes with my students and handing out candy from a basket after classes ended to all of the teachers and students. During my classes, after I had finished the lesson, I had the students approach me at the front of the classroom where I sat directly in front of the whiteboard. I told the students to picture that my house was the whiteboard and that I was sitting on my front steps, waiting for trick-or-treaters. I had the students come up either individually or in small groups to “trick-or-treat,” where they would say the magic words and then be given candy. However, before they were allowed to dig in, I also asked them to tell me what (imaginary) costumes they were wearing to make them feel more a part of the actual holiday festivities. Many of them were Spiderman, witches, movie characters from Halloween films, dogs, princesses, etc. It was a wonderful day that allowed me to be transported back in time to when I was younger and would go trick-or-treating and make my own costumes.
Shelby Lawson — Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi
My students enjoyed a lesson including reading a Halloween poem and mask-making! It’s also a little embarrassing that I’m the only one petrified of the giant spiders that roam around the classroom. All of my students just look at me when I scream!
Christal Clemens — Kupang, NTT
I hosted a Halloween Party at my house for my neighborhood gang of kids. We spent the night carving pumpkins, mummy-racing, playing monster mash and of course, eating endless amounts of gula-gula (sugar)!!
Mackenzie Findlay — Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi
On Halloween, I went to the movies with Kate, my sitemate.*
I have a Halloween-themed possession story! Back in August, during my first week in Kendari, I was visiting a class for the first time. I was in the middle of introducing myself to the class when we all heard screams coming from the hallway outside. The teacher went out to look and all the students ran to the window to see what was going on. Then, the screaming reached the door to our classroom and in walked a female student with her arms outstretched like a zombie, and her eyes rolled back in her head. She was possessed. The students ran screaming to the other side of the classroom and the possessed girl started to chase after them. She caught one of the other female students and started attacking her, she literally had her pinned to the ground. Some other students pulled them apart and the possessed girl stood up. Her hijab had come loose and her hair was all wild. The other students ran screaming for the door while I still stood in the front of the class paralyzed. It wasn’t until the teacher remembered me and said, “I think you should go now,” that I realized I should probably hightail it out of there… A student grabbed my hand and we ran out of the class. I walked back to the teachers’ lounge with the screams of dozens of students still behind me.
Kayla Stewart — Semarang, Central Java
I spent Halloween doing a lesson with my students on the history of the holiday. During class, the students made their own masks and used them to create English ghost stories in groups. They acted them out at the end of class, and it was bloody hilarious. After that class, I threw a Halloween party for my students. It included mask-making, a ‘Thriller’ viewing party, making ghosts, and mummy races. Of course, there was plenty of candy to go around. One of my kids made me do some of the thriller dance in front of 100 students. It was the best embarrassing moment I’ve had during my 20s.
Lizzy Hardison — Pangkal Pinang, Bangka
My sitemate* and I hosted a party at our house on Sunday, the day before Halloween. We opened it to all of the kids from the neighborhood as well as our co-workers and their children.We spent the night playing games and had everyone home in time for bed (albeit with huge sugar highs – not our problem!) Our food spread included caramel covered apples, kettle corn, banana bread, and candy, but for some reason the big hit of the night was the bowl of plain apples we put out as decoration – the kids went for those first. One kid looked at the food and said he was worried about rotting out his teeth.
Sarahann Yeh — Bandar Lampung, Sumatra
On Halloween day, 10 members of SMAN 7 Bandar Lampung’s English Club visited my home to celebrate. The foyer was decorated with paper ghosts, skeletons, and spider webs that English Club members had created the week before. It set the scene quite nicely. We kicked off the party with watermelon carving. Thank goodness we did it outside–it was incredibly messy! We filled eight bowls with watermelon flesh and my entire front porch was soaked with juice. Following the carving, students decorated paper masks in the shapes of rabbits, cats, dogs, and foxes. They also did a Halloween crossword puzzle and swapped scary stories. At the end of the party, we voted for our favorite watermelon and mask, and the winners received prizes from the USA. Since we couldn’t go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, the students received a bundle of candy and a USA flag decal. All in all, it was a great time!
Kate Barton — Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi
I went to see Dr. Strange with my site mate* at the local movie theater the night of Halloween! But the week before Halloween I decorated my teachers room with a sign that said Happy Halloween (which became a prime selfie-taking spot for many of the teachers and students) and I put up handmade paper jack-o-lanterns and a spiderweb that I brought from the U.S. I also tried to host a Halloween movie after school on Friday and made popcorn and ghost lollipops for my students, but only a handful showed up. It was still fun to watch Hocus Pocus with those students and my counterpart!
Shreya Kundur — Malang, East Java
My sitemate* Caroline and I had a very spooky Halloween indeed. We were graciously invited to a Halloween party at Museum Angkut which is a popular tourist spot for Malang locals. Thinking that I was going to have to skip dressing up entirely this year, I was more than happy to celebrate Halloween in Indonesia and at a party at that. Caroline and I texted for about 2 minutes and decided we could go as ghosts (cut holes in a white bed sheet) or cats (black clothing and drawn-on nose and whiskers). Classic and simple costumes. Little did we know that this party was actually a costume and makeup competition and we were signed up for the “Europe monster” category. People were DECKED out. These were the most amazing costumes I have ever seen and actually frightened and grossed me out because they were so realistic.
Thankfully one of our friends had face paint, which we borrowed to try to make our faces look more scary. Next, we were placed at various spots throughout the museum as part of the exhibits. Regular customers came through the museum and stopped to ogle at the various monsters, bloodied corpses, infected zombies, ghost brides, etc. I will say it was quite fun taking photos with museum-goers while giving zombie death stares rather than the regular smile. After that, we did a quick flashmob dance which turned into a huge dance party with a DJ and flashing lights. All in all, a very enjoyable and unforgettable Halloween.
* sitemate = another Fulbright ETA living and teaching in the same region or city