Thursday, May 6, 2010

two truths, a lie, and massive failure in the classroom

warning: this post is not a happy one.

i have three weeks left in indonesia and as expected, i am feeling overly emotional and dramatic. the fact that i am leaving soon exacerbates both happy feelings and frustrated ones.

i decided this week we would play a simple game called "two truths and a lie." most of my students had semester exams this week, so i figured an easy game would be received well.

on the board i wrote:

Two Truths and a Lie
1) i can cook fried rice.
2) i played basketball in high school.
3) i have one sister who is 14 years old.

i explained to them that one of these sentences about me was untrue or false. i then explained that two of these sentences about me were true.

after i read each sentence, the students had to stand up if they believed the sentence i had just read was a lie. a lot of students thought that number two was a lie, which i found pretty funny.

(the lie was number 3, by the way. i have a 14 year old brother.) i explained that they would all write their own 3 sentences and come to the board one by one. the class would then guess which sentence the student wrote was a lie.


apparently not.

here are some of the answers i got from students:

class 10-4
1) i am a student at sman 3
2) i can walk
3) i can fly

i persevered. "guys! you want to write sentences that could be true or false. you want your classmates to guess! otherwise the game isn't really fun, right?"

"oh yeah. yes miss!!!"

class 10-5
1) i am spiderman
2) i have two eyes
3) i hate school

class 10-6
1) i have one father
2) i have one mother
3) i have twenty brother and sister

after the student wrote his/her sentences on the board, he or she would read them to the class. the class would then vote on which one they thought was the lie.

when y.z. disclosed that his first sentence, "i am spiderman," was indeed false, the whole class cheered. they cheered uproariously. i was so confused. didn't they already know he wasn't spiderman? didn't they already know they guessed correctly?

i guess it would be different if i was teaching elementary school? because than i would understand why my students cheer for certain things. like when their classmate reveals that his lie was that he could fly.

how about i tell you about last week.
last week, i had my students write out sentences for charades.
one student wrote, "a man make water for toilet."

really, kiddos?

maybe the smell of fresh cut grass and summer lemonade is clouding my senses. maybe the thought of running into my parents arms at the airport is making these last few weeks particularly hard.

there are no schedules here. my classes are constantly cancelled. teachers get paid for extra-curricular activities they never lead. men get to smoke and judge women who do. cheating in school and on spouses is expected. money that could be going into education is used to buy snacks for meetings. my school has power outages every day, but the glitzy mall Sun Plaza is always air conditioned and glamorous.

im tired of all the stares i receive. i don't really understand why people here stare at me anyways. most indonesians think i am indonesian. im brown. i have black hair. and i dress appropriately for the culture. so why are you STILL glaring at me? if i was white, or pink, or green i would understand.

im also tired of not fitting in --even when i look like i fit in. the other day, on my way home from bandung, i came across a group of americans in the bandung airport. they were on their way to bali. their dress, accents, and navy blue passports gave them away. i was excited to meet some americans so i walked up and said hello.

me: * unusually bubbly for 5 a.m.* "hi! are you guys from america?"

some lady in a gold print VEGAS t-shirt: "yeah"

me: "awesome, im from the states too. what are you guys doing here?"

VEGAS lady: "we are going to bali. what are you doing here?"

me: "oh, i'm an english teacher on sumatra."

VEGAS lady's husband: "where are you from?"

me: "im from the states. indiana."

VEGAS husband: "from india?"

me: "no, indiana. my parents are from india."

VEGAS husband: "that's it! you didn't look...well you looked a little different."

me: "awesome. have a nice trip."

my fellow indonesians aren't the only ones that need a lesson on u.s. diversity. p.s. wtf arizona?


im sure i will look back on all of this in a few weeks and lightheartedly laugh. its just been a rough few weeks. memories are always fonder as time drudges on. the past has a tendency to become romanticized.

but for now, i am not feeling any romance. i am very much looking forward to peeing in my bathroom at home and not have a rat crawl out of the drain.

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