By: Christopher, Work Study
IHF doesn’t just work with those who visit the centers, but the local community as well. This is something I had the opportunity to experience first-hand this week. IHF Medan was visited the week before by Tuti, a former local teacher, who had dropped by to see everyone and invited the co-directors and myself for lunch and to meet her students. Tuti is an English teacher herself and teaches children from her home.
We went by motorbike from the center, picking up fresh coconut juice on the way. Tuti had made us two local dishes and drinks for us to try, catching up on IHF Medan and asking me questions about my home and the English language. After lunch, she took us through to a room in her house which she uses as her classroom, where all the students were sat waiting for us. We introduced ourselves and had a short Q and A session. Her students were at the junior and senior level and very eager to ask their visitors a bunch of questions, many of which were steered towards “Are you married?” or “Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” Their English was very good and it was easy to see they were interested in learning. I then ran an English activity for them in teams.
We ended our visit with a photo session. If you’re a “bule” (foreigner) in Indonesia, you quickly discover that taking pictures will take a while, but the locals are so happy and excited it always makes for a fun time. I found myself taking large group pictures, pictures with groups of friends, pictures with just one person, and repeating the whole process. While everyone was checking and showing off their photos, Tuti allowed us to take some sugar cane and fruits from her garden back to the center. When it came to good byes, all the children came up to take our hands and touch them to their foreheads. This is a gesture the children do when they say good bye to teachers. I have grown very fond if this custom.
Feeling appreciative of the kindness people have shown me in Medan and knowing that I won’t be here in November, I decided to teach the children at the center about Thanksgiving for the Special Activities class. The first half was spent teaching the children about a British festival, Guy Fawkes Night, on November 5th. We made paint fireworks with water colors and straws and then the children made their own “Guy”. The second half of class was about Thanksgiving. I taught the children about the meaning of this American festival and then made a “Thanking Tree” using branches from outside. The children and staff wrote messages about what they were thankful for on paper leaves and stuck them to the tree. It was nice seeing what everyone was grateful for and to have time to reflect.