Wednesday, May 26, 2004

We sit in our office at Manado International School on a Wednesday, poring over books and planning for our first week of teaching. Our first assignment is to teach what is called a Preparatory English Class for incoming students. The class is three hours a day for four weeks. We will each teach a three-hour morning session and a three-hour afternoon session (different levels of students in each class). Matt will be working with 7-12th graders, while I am with the never-been-to-school-before through fifth grade. Matt was given four books to combine and use for lessons. I was given a schedule of what the elementary teacher did last year. We have both been working very hard on lesson plans that are easily adaptable, so we can meet the kids at their English level.

One of the main goals of this class, according to the memo we received, is to “asses” the students. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds an awful lot like a scene from Pinocchio.

So far the school has been great to give us just enough information to confuse us completely. One thing may be decided in a meeting, so we act on how we understand that decision, only to get a memo or some other form of information later that contradicts what we thought was decided. The meetings are abundant, formal, and useless—unless the use is to confuse.

If you can’t tell, we are a bit frustrated with and confused by our employers. Getting a straight answer is impossible, rumors are abundant, and information is seemingly senselessly withheld. We are trying to understand the culture, trying to understand how the school works, and trying desperately to figure out how we fit in.

Many of you have asked what you could send or what we need. We need books. I brought twenty or so children’s books with me, and I have more than the school’s library. The problem with books is that they are generally heavy, thus making them expensive to ship (I have priced shipping on and it is about $7 plus $5 per book, which adds up fast, hopefully UPS, FedEx or USPS will be less expensive). If any of you have children’s books that your kids have outgrown, or anything that would be appropriate for a student (K-12) it would be of most help. Reference books (i.e. picture dictionaries, non-fiction books on different subjects) would be a great help as well. Christian-themed books are acceptable since this is a Christian school.

Also, Matt and I read a lot, so much that in the two and a half weeks that we have been here, I have gone through most of the books that I brought with us (we brought books other than children’s). Although, I just started The Pickwick Papers—seven hundred pages of Dickens should last a while. English books are very hard to find here. I have only found one—a book of Indonesian short stories, which was interesting.

We would very much appreciate any books that were sent (except for anything from the Left Behind series), especially a new historical fiction novel by two of our former professors (Dr. Daniel Hays and Dr. Marvin Pate, the book is called “Apocalypse”).

We are still experiencing culture shock and most likely will be for quite some time. Last night we were invited over to our neighbors’ house for cake. When we got there, dinner was on the table. We had left our new helper at our house starting dinner for us, telling her we would be back in a few minutes to help her cook. We got back over an hour later and apologized profusely to Sonya, feeling awful for not being able to foresee that we would be served dinner and would be gone much longer than we expected without a polite escape.

Having someone cleaning and cooking for us is a major adjustment. It is very nice to come home to such a clean house with everything in order, but I find myself never really knowing what I should do to help, if anything. We are at school for nine hours a day, five days a week, which makes having someone to help us very nice. In fact, working and wearing clean clothes would be almost impossible to do here without help. It is just a very strange feeling to walk into your house and see someone ironing your underwear.

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