Monday, May 31, 2004

We began teaching today. Our schedule has changed since the last the last time I wrote (surprise, surprise). Matt and I each have a class from 2-5 in the afternoon. All last week we prepared. I went to look for materials—crayons, pencils, glue sticks, etc.—one day and was rerouted to several people. Finally the director told me that she had placed a purchasing order for a long list of materials. She gave me the list and I incorporated various items off of it into my lessons. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with a kilo of beans, corn, and cotton; maybe a lesson on plantations? All was going well. Meetings were supposed to happen, materials were supposed to be delivered, and copies were to be made. None of this happened, but Matt and I had learned from our mistake of expecting people to do as they say and were not overly disappointed, frustrated, or confused. After all, the Filipino consulate was visiting on Thursday and the three hour kindergarten graduation was on Friday, when would we have time for meetings or obligations of any kind?

So when the director told me that she hadn’t actually placed the purchasing order, but would do so before this week, I was not surprised. When I was told that I would be able to start setting up the classroom on Friday then was not able to, I was okay. When the supplies were not purchased on Thursday, Friday, or over the weekend, I was still dealing with it in an appropriate and gracious manner. When I got to school this morning (late because our driver was about 30 minutes late) and the director told me to go over the list that she had given me and decide what I needed for today so someone could go into town to get them, I was calm and agreeable (they came about 30 minutes before the class was over for the day). When the copies I needed for today were not done, I changed the lessons with little complaint. But when I needed some card stock for flash cards that I was making this morning and I went up to request some, I became upset. I stood in front of the sign that said “Speak only English in here” and asked the non-English speaking secretary how I could get some card stock. There was some on her desk, but through a series of gestures and rewording I could not convince her to let me have some. She said I could place an order and someone would go into town for it. I eventually got some by going back into the office when someone who spoke more English was there. Supplies are guarded like Fort Knox here and can only be accessed through a long series of forms—kind of a hassle to go through for a pencil.

The only other frustration came around 12:20, when Matt and I had just finished lunch and were about to force our way into the classrooms to set up. We were walking back to our office to gather our things to take to the classroom when we were approached with a memo. Matt remarked, “Great, I love these memos!” I was just as enthusiastic until I saw that it was announcing a “program” for the kickoff of the PEC (preparatory English Course) at 1:00. That would give us 40 minutes to set up our classrooms. Luckily we are in Indonesia and things always start late. The program started at 1:30 or so. By this time I had all the decorations I had made hanging on the walls and most of the things set up like I wanted.

I had 16 kids in my class this afternoon. The youngest was 3, the oldest 9. A little boy named Joshua instantly became a favorite, as he is very bright and cute. We read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss and they were to draw a picture of something with feet. I went around to the different tables and asked in Indonesian what they were drawing and sometimes could tell them the English word. A little girl named Amelia drew an Indonesian flag with someone standing next to it. I asked her what it was and she stated in clear English, “flag” and “the teacher.” For the first time I felt like maybe we belong here. Seeing a drawing of myself under the Indonesian flag was an interesting mixture of emotions, mostly nice ones.


Matt and I are celebrating our one-year anniversary today by…well, working for ten hours. We decided to gift ourselves with a water heater for our shower. We were going to get it last weekend, but they were out of stock. Hopefully we will soon have warm showers.

I cleaned a chandelier yesterday. What odd things life throws into our houses.

Speaking of things being thrown into houses…it poured down rain today. We had heard from other people that our roof leaked but had failed to see any evidence of it until today. Our helper told us that we needed to keep a towel in the doorway between the back room and the kitchen. She explained that during the downpour today our house flooded. The water came in through the roof in the back room and filled the kitchen. All of the floors in the house are tile, so no damage was done there. Tomorrow we will talk to someone about getting it fixed.

There are termites eating away our cabinets. Luckily, our walls are all concrete.

We bought several things for our house last weekend. I got a toaster oven, Matt got speakers and we bought lamps. I was really excited about having the oven since there is no real oven here. Now if I could only find some brown sugar I could make chocolate chip cookies.

We bought dictionaries, one English to Indonesian and one Indonesian to English. They help a lot in grocery shopping. Matt used them this evening to translate his new comic book called "Kung Fu Boy."

We bought an Indonesian Bible yesterday. Now we can fit in when we go to church.

Wednesday we will attend a wedding party. I think the groom’s name is Michael. They are people that were at the church we went to on Sunday. Because our skin is white, everyone wants us around.

People come up to us often to “practice their English.” Only two have talked to us for any length of time. You know the conversation is not ending soon when they start asking your opinion of political issues or how many prepositions can be in a sentence. Generally they ask for our phone number. We offer our e-mail address instead.

I think that is all the tidbits of information that I have for now. Please do not give up on a well-composed post. One will come soon.

No comments: