by Sarika N. and Jessenia M., Voluntourists, IHF Jakarta
This was it. The reason why we took our journey to this new country. To teach and educate young minds and for them to teach us about the culture and their ways of learning. Monday at 10 am is when we, Jessenia and Sarika, got to the Jakarta IHF Center. We traveled from New York for 26 hours! Our biggest obstacle to overcome upon our arrival was not to look like we were jet lagged.
Tuesday proved to be a little better. We were anxiously waiting for a chance to start teaching since we have plenty of experience teaching English back in New York as E.S.L. teachers/classroom teachers. We needed to observe the classes first to get a hang of how things were run. Unfortunately, since it was Ramadan, not a lot of students came to the classes due to the fasting. We met one student who showed up. The co-Director of the Center was her teacher for the past few months and she was saying that she recently got accepted to an International university in Indonesia. She stated “I don’t understand how I got accepted, I am not smart or rich”. It was really sad to hear a young teenager say that. I had to inform her that she is rich in the heart and smart in the head. If many of the students of Indonesia have that set mentality, they will not be successful. The co-Director was teaching her about greenhouse gases. They were reading an article from National Geographic. It had a lot of hard vocabulary, which the Director went over and explained to the student. We were impressed by the student’s willingness to learn. Finally, it was show time for us. We got the chance to teach our first English class on Wednesday. Our lesson plan was about simple present and present continuous. Using the information that Sarika learned from her linguistics class and the professional teaching experience Jessenia had, we became a great team with a pretty interactive lesson.
On Thursday, we took a trip to a nearby mall called Kasablanka. It is a middle class mall (apparently). I felt like I walked into Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island. There was Guess, Cache, Billabong and all these companies we both knew. The day before, we explored Mall Ambassador. The differences were clearly visible. The one thing we have noticed here is when dealing with American chains, the prices usually stay the same. Sarika got a caramel latte from Dunkin’ Donuts the other day, it was still about 3-4 dollars. Same thing with the places out here. We both agreed that we liked the first mall better, “Mall Ambassador”, because to us, it reminded us of Broadway Mall but 10 times bigger and better. They had a lot more Indonesian style clothing and it was a lot cheaper. But the food at Kasablanka was very delicious —we had Indonesian “soul food”.
The best bonding time we had as volunteers (consisting of myself, Jessenia, Yanyi, and Lu) was exploring Bogor with Siti! She is Indonesian and had lived there with her husband a while ago for several years. Having her take time from her busy life was much appreciated. Jess and I especially felt grateful because she was fasting; so we knew that this trip would be exhausting for her. We took a train to the area and found our way to the Bogor Botanical Garden.
Walking around the beautiful, endless, green land, we found ourselves exchanging giggles, stories, and pictures. Siti taught us some key Indonesian phrases and helped us bargain at the gift shops. We proceeded to a nearby mall for some more shopping! Jess and I were eager to get more souvenirs for home.
All in all, we have been enjoying our stay here. One thing I like about the Center so far is that they really treat you like family. They are very welcoming; even to the Center cat, yes the Center has a cute little cat. They are so caring and make sure everyone is comfortable. We appreciate them helping us get around Jakarta. There is still much more to explore!