Monthly Highlights: October 2016 Part 2

October was a busy month for Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) in Indonesia. From celebrating Halloween in all kinds of creative ways to hosting neighborhood jam sessions, ETAs have found many ways to connect with members of their communities. In the second part of this two-part series, read more about what ETAs across Indonesia were up to during the month of October.

Exploring the Neighborhood
Bandar Lampung, South Sumatra
5 October 2016

One night ETA Matt Poissant met up with some fellas from his kost* to get some spicy Indonesian chicken that he says “I can not remember the name of. But I do remember the chicken was ridiculously tender and it luckily wasn’t as spicy as I had thought.” Afterwards they decided to take him to see the different government offices of all the different districts within Lampung, “kind of like a Bandar Lampung version of embassy row.” As they came to each office they gave him a little summary of each district, which included a bit about their culture and history. Being that they were agriculture majors at their university they also gave Matt a lot of information about agriculture of each district.


Vinny Owen at MAN 2 Kudus’ English Camp

English Camp
Kudus, Central Java
15-16 October 2016

ETA Vinny Owen joined the students from the language program at MAN 2 Kudus for an exciting English Camp retreat in Jepara. This overnight event was held in collaboration with Global English Course Jepara, a local English club working to improve their English speaking abilities. The camp consisted of language lessons and games, as well as a talent show and even time to relax at the beach.

Salatiga, Central Java
18 October 2016


Community celebration of Bapak Toch Hadi’s safe return from Mecca

ETA Michaela Chinn was honored to accompany SMA N 1’s teachers to a communal celebration (syukuran) of Bapak Roch Hadi and his family’s safe return from their pilgrimage to Mecca. The celebration occurred at the family’s home in the main living room. Michaela, along with teachers and Bapak Roch Hadi’s family, enjoyed tasting some delicious sweet treats brought back from Mecca. They sat on the floor while eating lunch and engaging in discussions about American culture, Indonesian culture, and Muslim rituals. Following this dialogue, Bapak Roch Hadi led a prayer that ended with everyone drinking water from the Zamzam well that he and his family had brought back from Mecca.

Intercultural Potluck
Sidoarjo, East Java
22 October 2016

From morning to late afternoon on October 22nd friends, students, teachers, and fellow ETAs gathered at the home of ETA Kelly Fitzgerald for an intercultural potluck. Students from Universitas Airlangga’s American Corner took the lead in making gado-gado, a traditional Indonesian salad, while ETAs Krupa Patel, Shreya Kundur, and Caroline Rose prepared foods such as pasta, bruschetta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and deviled eggs. The potluck was attended by a dozen university students, several teachers from SMA Wachid Hasyim 2, and over 40 students from Kelly’s English Club. After lunch, the ETAs took the party to the streets by “getting funky” and dancing to the Cha Cha Slide. The party was truly an opportunity for intercultural exchange where the ETAs were able to share traditional American food and dance while learning about Indonesian party etiquette.


Ayat with participants in the Asian Law Student Association English Competition.

English Competition
Makassar, South Sulawesi
29-30 October 2016

The Law Department at Hasanuddin University held its annual Asian Law Student Association (ALSA) English Competition on October 29-30, 2016. High school students from and around Makassar came to compete in speech or British parliament style debate. ETA Ayat Abourashed was invited to judge the high school level speeches. The speeches covered superheroes in real life, the role of youth in counter-terrorism, and the harmony in diversity of religions in Indonesia. At the closing ceremony, Ayat handed the awards to the high school speech winners.

Japanese Festival
Malang, East Java
30 October 2016

ETA Caroline Rose attended a Japanese festival with her students at a local university in Malang. At the festival there were games, dancing, and competitions to highlight and celebrate Japanese history and culture. During the festival Caroline participated in a workshop to learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. She enjoyed learning about a new country and culture alongside Indonesians. This festival provided Caroline, her students, and her fellow teachers yet another fun way to experience international exchange!

Julianne waltzing the day away at one of several weddings.

Julianne waltzing the night away at one of several weddings.

Season of Love
Kupang, East Timor
Various dates in October

October is not usually known as the month for love, at least ETA Julianne O’Connell never thought it was. She usually considers it to be a month for football and changing weather and Halloween. In Kupang, however, much like in the U.S., October seems to be a popular month to get hitched, which is how Julianne found herself at one wedding every weekend this month. The first wedding was for members of her hash* group, Bobby and Emilia. It was held in an extravagantly decorated ballroom and was the most lavish wedding she had ever seen, on any continent. Julianne was surprised with how western the wedding felt: there was a long line for the buffet, cake cutting, a bouquet toss (just as awkward and uncomfortable as in the States), there was even an open bar! She spent the night waltzing with a local dance teacher, which was the highlight of her night, but honestly, Julianne felt a bit jealous of the more traditional weddings that she saw her friends on Java experiencing.

The two weddings that followed were similar to the first, albeit a bit smaller and less extravagant. Julianne was able to participate in some traditional dances and realized that most weddings are pretty similar (and that A LOT of people get hitched in Kupang, often at the same venue). And finally, the last weekend in October, she went to another wedding (her 4th in 4 weeks) which was traditional and wonderful and everything she had been hoping to experience. The wedding was for the cousin of her neighbor and best friend and was held on her street, about 5 doors down from her kost. Julianne wore her traditional motif skirt, much to the delight of her neighbors. She celebrated all night with traditional music and dances and prayers with her neighbors and the people who know her best in Kupang. She even got to see some of the kids from her Neighborhood English Club all dressed up and clean for once. It was a great night which she will not soon forget.

All in all it was a great month filled with lots of dancing and good food and LOVE. So even though there are no costume parties or changing leaves Julianne is still finding a lot to smile about!

The fruit of SMK N 2's collective labor.

The fruit of SMK N 2’s collective labor.

School Competitions and Clubs
Pangkal Pinang, Bangka
Various dates in October

October at SMK N 2 Pangkal Pinang brought with it a national language competition, the first meeting of their English Club, and a local English Language competition. For the national language competition, students at SMK N 2, a technical high school, welded and painted a very impressive metal sign. Said ETA Kiana Ward, “It’s fun to see what can be accomplished when the students put their skills to use.” SMK N 2’s own Lang Buono made it through the first round of the English Competition with his speech on the quality of Indonesian Education.

New Uniforms
Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi
Various dates in October

At SMA N 4 Kendari teachers often wear matching batik according to their respective departments on Fridays. After a few weeks of asking if ETA Kate Barton could join in the matching fun with the English department, they finally decided to get new batik. She even got to help pick out the new pattern. They kept it a secret and they all showed up on Friday wearing their gorgeous new batik. The other teachers went wild. Needless to say they took many pictures!

*A kost is a boarding house. Typically young, umarried Indonesians (and ETAs!) live in a kost while they work/study away from home.

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