It’s been already 3 years since I joined IHF back in 2010. Time surely goes fast! After moving around the Indonesian Centers quite regularly, I have been able to settle down in Jakarta for these past months.
This is my last blog post for the IHF Aceh center and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. I have had a great time here and I’m quite sad to be going so soon. I’ve learnt a lot about how education centers like this work and have made lots of new friends. I have also developed a taste for Murtabak and Acehnese coffee!
This week, some of the local volunteers and I visited some of the boats that were swept inland by the Tsunami. Many of them have been left where they stood as monuments to what happened. The biggest ship was swept five kilometers from the sea and it is huge. It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of the wave and how much power it had to do this. It was an affecting experience and helped to put into perspective just how much damage the Tsunami caused.
This week we continued our student recruitment campaign, Philippe and Icut visited an orphanage near to the center to encourage the students to take advantage of our free classes. The kids seemed keen to join so hopefully they will start coming to the center next week. We also had a special workshop for the students in SMP and SMA about HIV, run by Petra who works for an HIV charity in Aceh. The students were very interested and asked him many questions. It’s important for them to be educated about health issues and I think they learned a lot from the session.
This week we said goodbye to our house mother, Rose, and her daughter, Rara, as they have to move back to their home town. We are all really sad to see them go since they have been here for almost three months and they are really part of the Aceh family. We are currently looking for a new live-in housemother but we luckily have Bunda, a mother of some of our students to cook for us for the time being. She is a great cook and is always happy and joking with us.
That’s the last that you’ll hear from me. Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone that has made the last month such a great experience and I’m going to miss you all so much!
My time in Bali is reaching the end… It’s been an amazing time on this incredible, beautiful island and in the IHF center in particular. On my last week, Emelie and I still had time to go to the market early in the morning so I could live another real Balinese experience before I leave.
The third week of April at the Jakarta Center was quieter than usual, as the Indonesian national examination for junior and senior high school students was held across the country. It turns out that even the younger children in primary schools were affected by the national examination and their routine was disturbed as well, causing lower numbers of students in our classes. Not a good thing in general, but it worked out well for me, as I had just begun teaching at the center, and fewer students in my first days made it an easy start.
I mostly teach elementary students and I’m a big fan of Full Body Response type of activities, so we did a lot of these. One thing I did not take into account whilst planning these lessons was the Indonesian heat – both me and the kids were soaked in sweat after demonstrating new action vocabulary in class: “playing football”, “flying”, “swimming” or “jumping”. And yet, kids prefer this “exercise style” class to any activities involving copying vocabulary from the white board!
We also did a lot of singing and chanting. It definitely does wonders to our students’ pronunciation! I’m a terrible singer, but our Indonesian students are really good at it and do it happily. This gave me the idea of organizing a karaoke contest in our center for junior and high school students. For now it’s just an idea, but I think it can be a great motivator for our teenagers to focus more on English not only in order to be able to pass tests in school with better marks, but also to see it as a live language! What do you guys think?
One more great thing about the center is that kids come early for classes and stick around after them. It’s great to see our students interacting, relaxing and taking it easy. Many moms hang around as well, so IHF has become a place where people meet, talk and laugh.
Hello everybody. Another warm greeting from IHF Medan center. Last week was (I guess J) the third week of my presence in the Medan center. Gradually, I got used to the Medan center and whilst I’m becoming more familiar with more students it feels more like the Aceh centre here. This is bad, that if you want to get something you need to give up another thing. Whilst in Aceh, I felt like I was staying with my family. I thought I couldn’t find that vibe anywhere else. However, now that I have settled down at the Medan center I feel the same. I was supposed to go back to Aceh next month, but as a new director Caroline will arrive there the day after tomorrow, I will stay in Medan to help my lovely granddaughter Louise in managing the center. However, she is super active and can handle the whole center alone as she did for the entire last year and more, but I am happy to be here and give her a hand in case. Next month she will traveling outside of Indonesia and I am afraid that I can’t manage the center like her. She is really perfect and I am proud of her.
Classes are running in routine base as a result of great directorship of Louise. We started the second phase of our workshops last week after we held a bi weekly exam. The students are so happy with classes and also educational workshops. Some of them who didn’t show up for a while are coming back to their classes and keeping their attendance up as they don’t want to be behind in the class and lose in the competitions which we have in every workshop. We had a group competition last week with four groups, working on reading and writing skills. Every group consists of three to four members who try to find as much errors and mistakes as possible in the other teams in order to catch their turn and get more scores for their teams.
I like to see them trying to win the matches, as it encourages them to study hard and learn English with eagerness.
Lots of love
This week there were a couple of bits & bobs that needed doing for the centre, so at the start of the week Kate and I were popping out on the scooter feeling very professional on the roads of Chiang Rai. We are starting to know our way around and gradually eased our way around corners and round round-abouts. There were some more vicious storms this week with strong winds. It did quite some damage on Tuesday morning, ripping out big trees and bringing down the canvas under which the close-by market was which was a real shame. Some of the bamboo at the centre was also ripped out and blocked the road. So out came us ladies and lads armed with are machetes to heroically clear the drive way!
By the middle of the week we had gotten the munchies (and thought it would be a good idea to get everyone involved in a group activity). So we made Chocolate-Cornflake-Cakes and ‘oh my’ …. they certainly settled our sugar cravings!
Some of the kids thought we were just serving everyone cerial as there was also a bottle of milk on the table! Everyone was put into groups and given a big bowl of conrflakes. Then, we had to chop up the big slab of chocolate and melt it down to mix in with the cornflakes. The kids were very into decorating their Chocoloate-Cornflake-Cakes with the sprinkles and smarties. They were then left to go hard in the fridge. We enjoyed them later on whilst the big rain storm shook the house and messed around with the lights. It was better than watching T.V.!
Besides the rainy nights, the days have been getting hotter! And off we were the next day to central market to get everyone’s school uniform sorted. All the children are now at the centre and there really is one big cozy family here! We chilled out in the evening and out came the Jenga game again. Recently, it’s been quite the thing around here among the lads. Adam has been showing us all the different games you can play with Jenga blocks. Whilst the lads were busy with that Titiporn and I were glued to the camera; we couldn’t get enough of posing.
After very hot days, our week ended with Jiraporn spoiling us with fried squid followed by swimming trips back to ‘the beach’. That place really is paradise.
The second week at the IHF centre in Chiang Rai and things have calmed down even more than I thought possible. Every night a storm comes rolling in and the mornings consist of us and the children cleaning the yard, or cooking or (specifically for the teenagers) sleeping until 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
The beach has become a common visit these days as the heat has returned. However, we were surprised to see such vast devastation after a particularly strong storm on Tuesday. The water level had risen as did the ferocity of the down flow of the water. The beach-side stalls had all been blown to shreds and children were picking up the last pieces of the bamboo debris from the stands, preparing to re-build. On Wednesday, I asked the older boys, Darid and Nupon, to show me a temple on an adjacent hill that is surrounded by jungle and is accessible through the jungle in our back yard. We took our bikes, but within a few minutes I encountered a few problems: the breaks failed but thinking nothing of it we pushed on, the chain fell but we simply put it back on, and finally the handle bar came off.
We had reached the base of the hill and a smooth, but incredibly steep paved road, lay ahead of us. I was pleasantly surprised to see that at the top we all sat down puffing and panting and a strange sense of comradeship lay upon us as we gazed across Chiang Rai, with beautifully decorated golden temples behind us. On the way back, we stopped off and casually picked up some 8 pineapples as a reward for our trip. On Saturday evening I set off for the night market, but was informed that it was closed due to the rain. I drove to town either way and was delighted to see that the market was in open, but only around half of it. The food stalls had shown up, but that was the primary reason why I set off in the first place. Too full to try it all I was forced to bring back a large bag full of goodies that the children eagerly helped me with. A successful night in my mind though.
By Adam Gloser