Wednesday, October 14, 2009

no more big yellow school buses

first day of school (september 28, 2009):
i woke up for my first day of school like every other first day of school: ridiculously groggy and disgusted by the chirping alarm being emitted from my cell phone at 5:30 am. i took a shower and put on my very best first day of school outfit. long black dress pants and a navy blue longsleeved button-up dress shirt. ibu zulfah was supposed to pick me up at 7:00 am. she arrived promptly at 6:45 am. i quickly gathered my things and we were off on her motorbike to the high school.

my very first day at SMAN3, was the first day back for all the students and staff; they were off for Ramadan, a month long religious holiday and the school's state appropriately reflected that it had been vacant for a some time. so it was a pseudo first day for everyone. to begin the week, every week, there is a flag ceremony. during this ceremony all 1400 students stand, grouped by grade level in the courtyard and face the flag. the teachers stand in front, next to the flag. this week was obviously no exception.

after some student leaders recited the national anthem, the headmaster started speaking. during his speech, a teacher nudged me and said, "five minute speech, ya? you new. some indonesia some english, ya? ok. ya. it will be ok, ya?"

uh...sure id love to speak in front of 1400 students and 100 teachers on my very first hour in my very first day at your school.

so not like any other first day of school.

the headmaster finished his speech, and i was shoved towards the podium. i stepped over the chords and squinted into the sunlight to see a wave of fresh young (profusely sweating) faces. i gave a short speech half in indonesian and half in english. everyone cheered after each indonesian sentence. i felt like a rockstar. a really really sweaty rockstar. after i finished, the students and teachers applauded and whistled. i walked backed to my former position under the shade and then waited in line with the other teachers as each one of the 1400 students came up to shake our hands.

except the handshake isnt a typical handshake. it is like the following:
in order to show respect to teachers/elders/those in authority, the students take the teacher's right hand with both of their hands and put it up to their forehead or cheek and bow.

this takes a while since there are 1400 students.

did i mention it was only 8am?

after the greetings and the handshaking, i went to my first observation. for the first two weeks at our school, we were only supposed to observe the teachers and their interactions with the students. only in the third week were we to start teaching. this idea sounded great when AMINEF told us about it back at the Novotel in bandung...except it didnt really happen.

definition in english of observation: sitting and watching to receive knowledge of how something or some task occurs or is performed

definition of observation in indonesian english: giving a speech about yourself to each class and every class and subsequently answering the barrage of questions that a speech about yourself and then praying for your time to be up because no one is asking questions because no one can speak english and no one has understood a single word you said.

so... i spent the whole day running from 45 minute class to 45 minute class (the teachers here switch classrooms, not the students) answering questions and telling the students about myself. after about midday, the heat really started to get to me. there is no air conditioning and most classrooms don't have fans. some classes were really alert and asked many questions. others stared blankly and giggled after every word i spoke. while i was in the classroom, many teachers would walk out or zone out into indonesian teacher dreamland. it was frustrating because i know many of the students just didnt understand what i was saying, and i could have used some translation help. although about half of the english teachers cant really speak english i guess it would not have helped so much. between 7th and 8th period i realized how hard my job was going to be...but how excited i was to be here.

i finished my day at about 2:00 pm and ibu zulfah dropped me off back at my home. i was exhausted (who knew talking about yourself for 7 hours straight could be so tiring). i took a mini nap and went to explore the city on my own in the evening.

definitely the most unique first day of school. ever. and i didnt get picked on (in english, anyway...). score.

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