Throughout their nine months in Indonesia, Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have no shortage of activities both in their schools and in their wider communities. During the month of February, many ETAs hosted local WORDS Competitions, an English speech and talent competition held nationwide every year. In April, the ETAs and their schools’ winners will gather in Jakarta for the AMINEF-sponsored national competition!
Besides hosting competitions, February was also a busy time for ETAs getting in the spirit of both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. From teaching topical lessons to leading Valentine’s Day-related arts and crafts, ETAs brought American celebrations to Indonesia while also celebrating local events like weddings, birthdays, and so much more!
What else did Indonesia’s fearless and funny ETAs get up to during the month of February? Read on to find out!
Alongside ETA Kayla Stewart, the students at SMKN Jawa Tengah took part in a special Black History Month lesson. 10th grade students were introduced to American history by learning about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and famous African-American leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Toni Morrison.
Wedding Party and a New Tradition
SMA Wachid Hasyim 2 Sidoarjo, East Java and SMAN 3 and SMKN 2 Pangkal Pinang, Bangka
2-5 February 2017
February is usually a month associated with love. During the first weekend of February, love was definitely in the air in Pangkal Pinang. Over the course of several days, two generations of Pangkal Pinang’s Fulbright ETAs gathered for a special occasion. Current ETAs Elizabeth Hardison and Kiana Ward were welcoming hosts to Kelly Fitzgerald and Caitlin Jordan, ETAs from the 2015-16 cohort. Kelly is now a Senior ETA in Sidoarjo and she flew to Pangkal Pinang for the weekend. Caitlin lives in Boston, but she made the long trip to Bangka for one reason: the wedding of a dear friend.
The wedding took place on the fifth of February. Kelly and Caitlin stayed up all night with their friend and her family to provide moral support and comedic relief during the stressful preparations for the several ceremonies that took place in the bride’s home the following day. On the big day, Kelly and Caitlin joined the bride and groom and their families in parts of the wedding ceremony that are reserved for immediate family members and the closest of friends. The former ETAs then helped greet hundreds of guests at the couples’ reception and they even got to sing a little karaoke for the crowd. Current ETAs Elizabeth Hardison and Kiana Ward as well as teachers from their respective schools, SMAN 3 and SMK N 2 Pangkal Pinang, attended the reception to express their well-wishes to the newlyweds. Being part of this wedding is an experience that neither the ETAs nor their now-married friends will ever forget!
While Caitlin was in town, the Pangkal Pinang crew also began the first of weekly “Thursday Night Dinners” on February 2nd with their special guest. Kiana and Lizzy served a grand American dinner of spaghetti with fresh pasta sauce, garlic bread, and green beans to a cheery group of friends and neighbors. They plan to have people over every Thursday to share the varied tastes of America with new friends in Indonesia. Next on the menu are fish tacos with homemade Spanish rice and savory beans.
On February 11, 2017, SMA N 1 Salatiga faculty and ETA Michaela Chinn and Japanese Teaching Assistant Narumi Hidaka woke up bright and early to meet at school. Why? Well, they did so in order to begin an amazing journey together: a full-day excursion to Yogyakarta! After enjoying Magelang’s tofu, sweeter-than- normal sambal, and Jamu, the SMA N 1 family went off to Borobudur Temple- SMA N 1’s Bapak Bambang Israel served as expert tour guide. Thereafter, the group made their way to Prambanan Temple. The highlight of the trip definitely was the evening’s entertainment, the Ramayana Ballet.
Mackenzie had the privilege to pulang kampung (go home to her village) in February when she went back to her former site of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan to visit her students and friends there. It was a long journey from Kendari but after two delayed flights, and one cancelled flight, she finally made it. She spent the weekend wearing a permanent smile as she got to spend time with her sweet kiddos and jalan-jalan around the city she used to call home. She visited her school and all the teachers (and shared some oleh-oleh from Kendari!), caught up with all her students, watched an English debate competition where her students took 3rd place, attended a birthday party, went shopping, went to karaoke, and ate at all her favorite warungs and cafes. The highlight of the trip was a river boat cruise down the Kahayan River with her students and former counterpart. It was a first for all of them! Mackenzie was thrilled to get the chance to see all her kids again and looks forward to hearing about their graduation in May.
Although Valentine’s Day isn’t typically celebrated in Indonesia, ETA Katerine (Kate) Barton enjoyed sharing some of her lovey-dovey traditions from back home. On the weekend before the “Day of Love” Kate invited her site mates, her Indonesian tutor, her counterpart and other “girlfriends” from Kendari over to her house for a “Gal-entine’s Night”. The ETA trio, including ETAs Mackenzie Findley and Shelby Lawson made delicious American delicacies, such as guacamole and taco bowls, to share with their Indonesian friends. They also had plenty of Valentine’s themed snacks like heart-shaped donuts, heaps of chocolate, and a pizza (because what’s a Valentine’s Day without pizza?). After gorging themselves on the fabulous display of food, the girl group set out to watch a non-romantic movie to quell their lonely hearts. They finally settled on Mission Impossible because the action-to-love-scene ratio was excusable. It was a perfect Valentine’s Day indeed.
Love of friendship was in the air at SMAN 7 Kendari this February. ETA Shelby Lawson and Counterpart Ibu Ani decided to make this Valentine’s Day celebration extra special for their students. Each student designed a postcard and wrote a message to Miss Shelby’s friends and family back home. Then, the postcards were sent to America to greet people. At SMAN 7, students are eagerly awaiting responses and replies. Not only did students get to learn and share about a special American holiday, but also interact with others from around the world. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!
Per custom in government schools in Central Java, teachers donned traditional Javanese clothing known as Beskap on the 16th of the month at SMKN 1 Magelang. ETA Julius (Jukie) Tsai was outfitted by his ibu-ibu [female teachers] in full regalia to the delight of students and teachers alike. The core of outfit consisted of a batik sarong, a short yet serious blazer, all topped off with a Yogyakartan Blangkon. The costume was accessorized with slender leather slippers and a keris, a classic Javanese dagger, slyly tucked into a batik cummerbund. The outfit matched many of those seen in exhibits at Yogyakarta’s famous palace, The Kraton. Needless to say, it was fit for a king.
Local WORDS Competition
SMKN Jawa Tengah Semarang, Central Java
18 February 2017
Students at SMK Negeri Jawa Tengah had a busy February. Students competed in several competitions, including the school-wide WORDS competition, led by ETA Kayla Stewart. Though several very talented students participated, it was Mas Syarif who won the competition and will represent the school in April in Jakarta.
SMAN 2 Balige, North Sumatra
18 February 2017
Relax friends, and let’s enjoy a beautiful day at Bulbul Beach. Students don’t belong in school on Saturdays anyway. They ought to be out having fun and playing games, or sleeping in, saving their homework for another day.
On February 18th, that’s just what the students of SMAN 2 Balige were doing. Classes were cancelled for jalan-jalan santai [relaxed walk], and the entire student body walked in a long chain from the school to the beach, about an hour away. While many teachers decided to ride down to the beach on their motor bikes, a handful, ETA Daniel Gerardi included, wanted to walk alongside the students. It was a beautiful morning, and most students were happy to be out of school, though one did say he would rather be learning in class than walking.
At Bulbul beach there was plenty of eating and singing, though Daniel avoided the latter, much to the dismay of many teachers (he’s gotten more confident at singing in front of people, but was not up to the challenge that day in front of so many people, even if they were only half-listening). While some of the students piled in the gazebos to relax and sleep, others played games in the sand. One of the games involved two teams of five students, each team linking up in a chain, battling against the other to either knock the other team down, or grab the last person in their chain. Daniel wasn’t sure exactly what was happening, the crowd was too rowdy to explain and it was all too chaotic and fun.
Daniel also joined the bapak guru [male teachers] in playing volleyball against some 12th graders, though he may have been more of a liability than anything. To cool off after several intense games, Daniel jumped in the lake in his trousers, a refreshing end to the day. Every Saturday ought to be the same!
On February 19th, ETAs Caroline Rose and Shreya Kundur helped at a bi-monthly English camp for kids in Malang. The morning began with Caroline and Shreya teaching the kids the song and dance to “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes.” Afterwards, the kids practiced naming the body parts and competed in “Simon Says.” Caroline and Shreya also got the kids running and walking, while teaching them how to play “Red Light, Green Light.” After a break for snacks, the kids played one more game putting together letters to form words for different animals. To close the morning, everyone sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” The ETAs were impressed that a full band, including a violin player, performed the music for the morning’s games and songs. It was a great time for all. Caroline and Shreya loved meeting the kids, and they are looking forward to going again!
ETAs Shreya Kundur and Caroline Rose spent an evening at a PKBM, or Community Learning Center, speaking with people who are pursuing a non-formal education. Adverse circumstances such as poverty and unstable home environments prevent these students from learning in a standard school setting so they attend night classes at the PKBM fully operated by volunteers. Bu Rindi, a teacher from SMKN 4 Malang, volunteers at the PKBM. She invited the ETAs to speak about the importance of education and share their experiences living in the United States and Indonesia. Shreya and Caroline were impressed by the curiosity of the students who had lots of questions about American culture, politics and education. The event was followed by a delicious meal and lots of photos. Shreya and Caroline were grateful for the opportunity to speak to a youth community outside of their schools and hope their impact was positive and meaningful.
The month of February was full of highs and lows for ETA Christal Clemens, as she celebrated a one-of-a-kind surprise birthday party at her school, but also was hit in a major motorbike collision resulting in severe injuries and infection that required her to go to Singapore for proper medical care. Her February highlight actually includes both of these events, as she felt unconditional love and compassion from her Kupang community in both situations and realized how much of an impact her community is having on her life as well as her impact in her community. For her birthday, all of her teachers and students planned a sneaky surprise party that started out as a regular day, included students acting out a huge fight in class and ended with a delicious lunch including se’i babi, mie goreng and chocolate cake. While Christal was in the hospital in Kupang after the accident, countless teachers and friends came to show love and support, which made a huge difference in her mindset of recovery and decision to return to Kupang after receiving care in Singapore. Overall, February was a busy month and she is excited to be back home in Kupang.
On February 25, ETAs Lizzy Hardison and Kiana Ward got to be students for a change when they learned how to cook one of their favorite Indonesian foods: martabak telor. Over the course of an afternoon in their friend RaRa’s house, they chopped vegetables, poured pancake batter, and fried up delicious pastries under the tutelage of RaRa’s mother. The martabak they learned to make is different from what you might buy from street vendors – instead of rolling out yeasted dough to make the crispy exterior, they made thin pancakes (similar to french crepes) that they filled and then folded around the beaten egg mixture. The result was a crispy, delicious pastry that could be replicated in most any kitchen in the world. They served the martabak with a curried potato and beef stew prepared by RaRa’s aunt, and made enough pastries for RaRa’s family and a few visitors. Getting a cooking lesson was a new and fun way to engage in cultural exchange, and it will help both ETAs share a bit of Indonesian cuisine with their friends and family when they return to the States. You can learn exactly how to make this martabak in this article!
On February 25th, 2017 SMKN2 Bandar Lampung had its WORDS competition. The WORDS competition is an opportunity for students to show off their English speaking skills and personal talents by preparing a 5 minute performance. The theme of this year’s competition was “Lizard on the Wall” where students had to speak about what they would observe in a place and time of their choosing. ETA Matt Poissant worked with many of the students on their speech beforehand while Ibu Halima took the lead in organizing the competition. They also invited three judges to score the performances of the competitors: ETA Researcher-Coordinator and Alumna Grace Wivell, Ibu Aprianna from SMAN 7 Bandar Lampung, and U-Grad Alumni Alvin Sandy. All the participants are shown in the picture and they gave many creative speeches about a wide variety of topics such as the Industrial Revolution, Mecca, professional gaming, and New York City. There were also many impressive talents put on display such as karate, singing, and playing guitar. The winner of the competition was Maulana Sidiq with his speech describing a Lampung art and culture museum and with his talent of expertly playing a Lampung traditional instrument. Maulana will go with Matt to Jakarta in April to participate in the National WORDS competition.
On February 25th, ETA Vinny Owen held the local WORDS competition at MAN 2 Kudus. There were around 15 participants who all gave wonderful performances. The students were very creative with the “Cicak on the Wall” speech prompt that was given to them. The talks ranged from wanting to see their parents in the village, to traveling to outer space and exploring beyond. The students were also able to display some of their amazing talents. There were a variety of performances, from singing, poetry and dramatic storytelling, K-Pop, and even some traditional Javanese dancing. Watching the students’ performances and courage on stage was impressive, and Vinny hopes to see these students grow in their English speaking abilities and self-confidence throughout the year.
ETA Julianne O’Connell, like several other ETAs, held her WORDS competition in February and it was probably one of her favorite moments as a teacher so far.
Since the beginning of February ETA O’Connell has been coaching her students on their public speaking, confidence and how on earth to make sense of the topic “Cicak on the Wall.” From the 25 enthusiastic kids who signed up with the hopes of winning a trip to Jakarta to the 12 or so who continually came to the after-school workshops it was an ever-changing process that helped Julianne get to know several of her students better, as well as kids from the school who weren’t in her class. She got to know her students’ hopes and fears and the situations that make them anxious and even got to learn some of their hidden talents. The process leading up to the competition was very special and three weeks of hard work eventually culminated to a wonderful event on February 25th.
The day of the competition 8 students came ready to bear their hearts and it was a joy for ETA O’Connell to witness all their hard work and confidence and vulnerability. It was a truly humbling moment for her as a teacher to watch her students overcome fears of public speaking or “lack of talent” to give the school a wonderful 2 hours of English speaking, story-telling, singing and song-writing. Though only one student won first prize and the chance to represent SMAN 3 Kupang in Jakarta all the students were winners in the eyes of their proud teacher!
ETAs Anna Katomski and Samantha Geary traveled to Ruteng, a city in the region of Manggarai Barat in Flores, on February 25, 2017. Ruteng is one of the principal cities of the region and is located in the mountains. For the ETAs, this cooler change of climate was a nice change from the constant heat of Labuan Bajo.
Ruteng is about a three-hour drive from Labuan Bajo along a windy mountain road. While in Ruteng, Anna and Sam visited the childhood home of one of their close friends, saw stunning rice paddies, and purchased their first “songkes” in a traditional market. “Songke” is the word for “sarong” in Bahasa Manggarai. Songkes are made of beautiful woven cloth, often exhibiting a colorful pattern on black fabric.
That evening, Anna and Sam attended the engagement ceremony of another one of their close friends, who is a researcher for Komodo National Park. This traditional Manggarai ceremony was definitely one of the highlights of Sam and Anna’s grants. Almost all of the attendees wore songkes of their own, including the ETAs. The ceremony itself consisted of a lot of sitting and eating (2 meals to be exact). The family of the soon-to-be groom had to make a series of payments and other offerings to the family of the future bride. Once the price was agreed upon, the couple exchanged rings and a photo shoot ensued. Overall, Anna and Sam had a wonderful time participating in this ceremony in such a quaint city.
In preparation for the Iconic Foam Color Run in Surabaya, ETA Krupa Patel started a running club with her students at SMA Khadijah. The first meeting was held on February 13th 2017. Six students and a teacher along with Krupa travelled to a local university campus which is about 7 minutes away from the school by motorbike. They did stretch, run around a lake and campus, along with ab and arm exercises. The kids were extremely excited but also exhausted by the end of the first meeting!
Running club was held twice a week. Various students and even teachers come to join the fun! The goal of starting this club was to promote a healthy lifestyle and motivate the students to live active lifestyles. Healthy eating and the importance of hydration was also emphasized! Overall, Krupa loved sharing her love for fitness and healthy lifestyle with her students. She also enjoyed getting to know them outside of the classroom. She and her students can’t wait to run the Iconic Foam Color Run 5k race in March! Running club with Miss Krupa will continue for the rest of the school year.
Students from MAN 2 Model asked ETA Ayat Abourashed to make a lesson for English Camp, and Ayat enlisted the help of an Australian marine biologist, Siobhan. Together, they created a lesson plan focused on English slang: American vs. Australian slang. The morning of Sunday February 26, Ayat and Siobhan went to MAN 2 Model and taught English slang to about 25 students. Students learned all sorts of new words like “shiela/gal”, “bog in/pig out”, “McDos/Maccas”, and “singlet/bro tank”. The students really enjoyed learning about more informal speech. Ayat and Siobhan had many conversations using slang and had the students translate. Ayat and Siobhan even challenged the students to create their own conversations using their new knowledge of slang. Safe to say, the students were awesome and came up with some amazing conversations!
Seven university students from the English Department at Universitas Negeri Gorontalo (Gorontalo State University/ UNG) have been working with ETA JoAnn Doll and co-teacher Pak Mustain to lead the new debate club at MAN 1 Gorontalo. First, they taught the 10th grade students the fundamentals of the Australasian debate system, including the roles of each member of the government and opposition teams, the structure of a formal debate competition, and how they should prepare before the debate. In the next meeting, the students competed in their first formal practice debate following the Australasian system, on the motion titled “This house would ban smoking in school areas,” while the UNG leaders acted as team coaches. In the final meeting of February, the UNG leaders guided the students in forming logical arguments to express their personal opinions on the motion titled “This house would legalize abortion.” The students received feedback on their performances, and all of them have been showing steady improvement in expressing their ideas and opinions in English with confidence and conviction.