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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Only 1 week left at my training village

Only 1 week left at my training village!

Only two more language sessions! Yikes – I’m learning a new language now that I know my village for the next two year. Some of us are learning Javanese and some are learning the language of Madura. The Javanese language has several levels so I am trying to learn the high level that is used with older people (who may not have atteneded school and learned the National Language) and the lower level which is used by young children before they go to kindergarten and primary school. There’s a middle level too, which you use with your friends, but I’m not even trying to learn that.

For example:
English Indonesian Javanese for kids Javanese for elders
Yes ya yo nggih
Thank you terima kasih matur nuwun
What’s your name
Siapa nama anda
Sopo jeneng mu
Sinten asmo panjenengan

Afternoons and evenings are community projects to demonstrate that we know how to learn things about our community and that we know how to facilitate local people learning about their own community.
Friday and Saturday are language finals.
Monday we are evaluated on our acquisition of pre-service training skills and we have to submit our Teaching English as Second Language portfolio, practice the ceremony with the parts we each need to present and have a farewell dinner.
Tuesday we have a health exam/contest and have one half hour on stress / mental health (I’m laughing. You who have been reading my blog know that this something I probably should have learned a long time ago.) Later that day our new principals arrive. We spend Wed. in sessions with them, hopefully learning what they expect of us and sharing with them something about Peace Corps. Thursday we are sworn in as new volunteers and then leave with our principals to spend the next 2 years at our permanent sites.

Today, like most days I was up at 4:00am. At 6:00 my Ibu and Bapak took me to a group calisthenics session in Batu. I love these sessions with the elderly! I fit right in and have a blast! It’s some stretching, some yoga, some vigorous jumping and moving arms and legs and lots of music. Now I have a little time before we go to her sisters house to make small cakes for a wedding. (I think) After 2 months I can pick up on some of what is said, but generally I just smile and go along with whatever seems to be happening. (Oops, it’s now Wednesday. I did the calistenics on Sunday! Time is flying. I better get this posted! I've been involved in massive wedding preparations the last few days: making all kinds of cakes, donuts, sweets and wrapping presents and going to festivities with the other women in my village. My ibu's sister's son is getting married. I found out I can turn cloth into flower shapes by folding it and using rubber bands!)

I’m also learning the Indonesian national anthem! I have to get evaluated on my sample English lesson plan, do a visual presentation on the community service projects I’ve been involved with and finish up my Self-Assessment Portfolio (6 pages - tiny writing) of Pre-Service Training.

So if some of you are wondering, “How come she’s having a hard time?” That’s why! Training is a lot of work! But, the good news is I can see the end of the tunnel. We’ve been told that all this frantic activity will dissolve once we reach our permanent sites.

My favorite activities here have been walking through the villages, meeting the people, and just being a part of a community. I also loved the practice teaching sessions at the local high school. I’ve learned that my brain is old but my spirit is young. Interacting with people brings me the most joy and memorizing data brings me the most stress. I developed enough confidence to know that even if I loose the ability to talk and listen (or partially loose it) I can still get the job done. Communication is lots more than the words you can say or understand. And I’ve made some great friends: the other trainees in my village: Scott, Lukasz, Andy and Maggie have become my absolute support team. And the other trainees: Angela, Bart and Andrea who will be living within a few hours of my site, and Sami, Diana, Noel and Erica who taught school with me, and Troung, Lauren, Matt, Sarah, and Nisha who I think had the closest, craziest village and my good friends, Gio and Travis who always goes out of his way to give me a hug. My teacher Teguh has taught me more than I can ever aknowledge – it’s not just the Indonesian, but the way that people live and why. When he explained that there is a requirement to pray 5 times a day, but that sometimes we hear extra (non required) prayers on the loudspeakers at night, I began to uncover another layer of the deep spirituality here.

The Peace Corps staff has gone above and beyond in a very limited amount of time to get us trained enough to send us out on our own. I wish I could keep Lyn, the medical officer, with me forever. From my perspective we’re two old ladies who have more fun with life than anyone suspects. Betsy, the new programming and training officer, has stepped up to the plate and picked up the pieces of the meal and is making it into a grand feast! From the top to the bottom; Ken, Wawan, Mifta, Joyce, Dewi, Selvia, Ririez, Lyta, Evelyn, Bimo and Jack and Rebecca who will be moving on, and the others I’ve just met a few times, I just want to say thank you to everyone at Peace Corps staff who has supported the 19 of us!
And the people at Univ. Mohammadyia, Eni, Pak Habib and Pak Barto and all of Teguh’s friends at American Corner…

Okay I’m running out of time and I also want to say thank you to my family. My Ibu and Bapak are the best! and Dea and Ayu and little Aldin have helped me out when only a teenager and college student and 5 year old could reach in and understand me when my brain absolutely refused to act like it was 61 years old!

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