Sunday, September 27, 2009

Surabaya--I Made It!

I meant to post this Morning evening (morning for you), but of course after checking my email the internet went all wonky and I spent the next hour of my life trying to get it back. Seems to be working this morning, so here you go. Love, Cassie

It seems like my pattern is to write on blog on Sunday, but feel too tired to get it online. So if you are looking for my blog on Sunday and is not up, I’m sorry—there will likely be a new post within a few days. Again a busy week.

We had Tuesday off because of the holiday and my friends and I decided to visit a volcano as it would be our last opportunity before leaving Bandung. Although Idul Friti was on Sunday, the holiday and celebration lasts for over a week. Many schools are still closed. A group of ETAs had visited the volcano the first weekend we’re in Bandung. It took them one hour to get there—it took us over 4 hours because of the traffic. The car was suppose to take us to the top, but there were so many cars that we got out and walked. It was steep and within minutes my calf muscles locked up. It was not too far to the top, but there were so many people—masses and masses—it was difficult to get through. It was neat to be at the vocano, but after the long ride and crowds, we were ready to go. However, we had already left our driver who was going to meet us at the end of the hiking trail; we were not really sure where to go. I started talking with a man selling sourveirs—turns out he was also a guide. The group that came before us said it was a nice, easy hike down. Apparently, I have very different standards. Although most of it was downhill, it was extremely uneven and not always stable. I felt like an ill-equipped mountain goat. Fortunately, our guide was very nice and helped me for most of the trek down. (Saving me from disaster at least 3 times). Once we made it to the car, it took over 2 and half hours to get back to the hotel. I am glad we went, but it was quite a day.

On Wednesday, our counterparts (the Indonesian teachers from our assigned schools) arrived. My counterpart is a man named Supratman. He teaches the 12th grade, but I will be teaching the 10th grade. ETAs are not allowed to teach the 12th because the primary focus in this grade is passing the standardized test at the end of the year and AMINEF does not want to waste native speakers on students concerned chiefly with tests. There are nine 10th grade classes at my school with about 38 students per class. I am teaching each class once a week. And for those unable to do math in their head (like me, who totally used a calculator to figure this out) that is around 350 students I will be teaching each week. Table tents with names are mostly definitely a priority.

I am in a senior high school (which is grades 10-12) with 850 students total. The school is renovating and there is a shortage of classrooms. Grades 10 and 12 go to school in the morning and grade 11 in the afternoon. The plan is for the building to be finished in January for the 2nd semester. We shall see.

Class begins at 6:30 am and I shall be teaching at least twice a week at this hour (pause for gasp). There is normally not school on Saturday at my school, but there is now because of the renovating. Also, I will only have to work in the mornings because that is when 10th grade class meets at this time. When the renovating is done, if I am still here, there will be a different schedule. The other the duty I have is the English Club, but I am still not certain when that meets. There is also a chance that I will be teaching the teachers English. The school is trying to obtain an international standard, which in Indonesia means that at least two subjects (outside English) are taught in English—generally these are science classes.

On Saturday, I traveled to Surabaya with my counterpart. I am living with a very nice (and wealthy) family. There is a large house—rather like a compound, in that there are different sections and a locked gate. I am living in the guest section and there is a swimming pool I can use. There is a grandmother that is my “Indonesian mother.” I am living in her son’s house with his three children. The eldest just started university, the second just started senior high school, and the third (and only boy) is 8. I am still feeling my way around as the culture in Java is polite to the point of saying you may do things that they would rather you not do. Hopefully, I come across the boundaries gently without any major faux pas.

There is a very nice mall within walking distance with a movie theater, trustworthy drug stores (prescriptions are not required in Indonesia and in some of the stores, you are taking a chance in what you are getting), a grocery store, and an English bookstore. I have not yet gone further than the mall (which is about a 5 minute walk)—we shall see how quickly I set out on adventures.

Today (my Monday) the other ETA in Surabaya came to see me with her counterpart. They are about an hour away by public transportation (called bemo here)—which I have yet to experience here in Surabaya, but I hear it is just like Bandung with the little buses. My counterpart will take me to school for a few days and then one of the servants (from now on I will be using the word helpers, because servant is just too strange for me) will help me figure out to get to school on the bemo.

My school starts classes on Wednesday from the holiday break for the end of Ramadan. There is a teacher party tomorrow (my Tuesday) to which I have been invited. I found out today that I need to cover my hair for the party, so I have to borrow something from my host mother because I have nothing suitable. There are 72 teachers at the school. Already I am having trouble with remembering and pronouncing names—I hope that I do not make a fool of myself, but when I do (and I do) people just laugh. At least I am amusing.

Cassandra’s Firsts:
1) First time to drive an angkot (the public transportation in Bandung)—my friends and I were the only ones on the angkot and we were talking with the driver and his friend with our limited Bahasa. The friend asked if we wanted to drive and one of my friends said yes jokingly—turns out he was not kidding and they let us climb over and steer (the driver was still there and we weren’t in complete control but we could turn—it was fun).
2) First time to sing Karaoke. I never did it in the States. It was a blast. A couple people put it together for our last night in Bandung. I sang “Barbie Girl” and “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” by Bob Serger—not by myself and not well, but fun.
3) First time in Surabaya.
4) First time to eat jack fruit. It is different. I don’t not like it, but it is not an instant favorite.
5) First time I walked in Surabaya by myself. A helper walked me to the mall and I walked back by myself. Like I said, it is not far and I only got slightly misplaced. The helper wrote down the address for me and I showed it to one of the guards in the neighborhood and he pointed me to the correct street.

Well, I think that is all for now. Next week I should be able to tell you about my school and the students. I have two weeks to observe before I am required to teach, but on next Monday during the flag ceremony (not sure exactly what that is yet) I am introducing myself to the school. Keep me in your thoughts and/or prayers.

1 comment:

  1. By the time you got to pool, I wanted to cry. Oh dear. It sounds very nice : ) I will have to come visit!