3rd December 2012, by Tess

Six weeks at the Jakarta center, and I feel like I’ve learned more than I did in my three year degree majoring in Indonesian Studies. Well maybe not quite, but I’m finally learning about what it’s like to be Indonesian, to live in Indonesia, and how to speak Indonesian. Up until this trip, my knowledge was academic, now it’s grounded in reality. For a start, the wonderful family here. Nia and Adit, the cutest kids in the world, even if they are a bit cheeky. Ayu and Ade, whom I have so enjoyed talking with, helping with their homework, and generally bothering them with questions and getting them to go on walks with me. Ibu Rini, whose cooking is amazing, by far the best Indonesian food I’ve ever had, and whose company I’ve really enjoyed. She’s teaching me a lot about speaking Indonesian, since she doesn’t speak English. Bally from England has been here guiding me through my experience, and I was very sad when she had to leave to go to Medan.

Teaching is a steep learning curve. I’m enjoying it, and doing ok, but everyday I have more respect for good teachers I’ve met. At first glance, it seems easy, but as I go on I realise how much there is to it. I soon learnt that with the young children, it’s vital to keep them occupied at all times. If they have a moment of free time, they will use it to be cheeky. It’s hard not to smile at them when they are though, as they are all absolutely adorable. The older kids I’ve just begun teaching as Bally left, and I feel that this is what I’m more suited to, and I’m looking forward to studying teaching next year to become a high school teacher. But it didn’t take me long to realise how little I knew about English grammar! I have to be sure to go by the book.

I’ve been really interested to see the new registration process in action, and how important it is to gather a little bit of information about our students and check that they are attending regularly. It was great to meet all the parents, and have little chats with them in Indonesian. I got a lot better as I went on. We are starting to look for new students for The Education Program, and I think I would love to sponsor one. It was really something to hear Nia describe a family as rich when the father supported two children for a month on what I earn in a day. It’s this kind of day to day reality that I had no idea of back at home in the classroom.

It feels like home here now and I’m really sad to leave. I hope I can come back soon!

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