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Sunday, July 4, 2010

I know my schedule!

Okay, the title is a lie. I really don’t know my schedule for sure. But I’ve gotten some clues. I think I’ll be teaching:

Mon. 7am – 2pm
Tues. 7am – 2pm
Wed. 7am – 2pm
Thur no scheduled classes – maybe for attending English teacher meetings.
Fri 7am – 11:30 (School ends early on Fridays for Mosque attendance.)
Sat 7am – 2pm
Plus some afternoons for English club for students
and twice a month afternoon English club for teachers.

School starts July 12. we get
2 weeks off in Sept (end of Ramadan 2010, fasting month)
1 week off at the beginning of Jan,
1 ½ week vacation June 30 – 11, 2011.
TOTAL 4 ½ weeks off during the year!

AND during some of the vacations teachers still need to come to school to do written testing and verbal skills assessments for new students.

Now that’s not exactly true because I do get 24 vacation days a year from Peace Corps and there are 12 scattered single National holidays. But still, there is a reason why all those Asian kids in school were so super smart. They LIKE to go to school here! Even on days when only the teachers need to report for duty – for working on reports and attending mandatory meetings, (The letters are stamped with the official seal from the headmaster.) there are lots of students around, dressed in their uniforms, just hanging with their friends, reading whatever notices the teachers post, finding out from the teachers who in the class hasn’t completed each particular assignment and making lists of things to tell the students who aren’t there.

Actually the schedule is for the 2 women English teachers who teach 10th and 11th grade. They know exactly which class they will teach at what time next year. I will tag along and be a “team teacher.” The idea is that I pass my skills on to other teachers so that when I leave there’s more sustainability. None of the English teachers (my two friends plus the VP in charge of curriculum who teaches English to the 12th graders) have classes on Thurs. That might be because Thurs. is reserved for inter-school English teacher meetings most weeks or maybe I get a day off!

Mrs. Sulis teaches 37 class periods each week. Mrs. Nikmah teaches 33 class periods. Peace Corps has requested that each volunteer teach only 20 hours per week – that would be 30 class periods (the class periods are 40 minutes each.) And per the agreement with the Indonesian government agency, I’ll be teaching grades 10 and 11.

10th graders get 4 periods of English each week. (often two sessions are back to back)
11th graders get 4 periods if they are specializing in Social or Science and 3 for Religion
12th graders get 5 periods for Social or Science specialties.
The Religion specialty might be new. We don’t have any 12th graders doing it this year.

Teachers pay for their own photo copies. I saw the new schedule on someone’s desk and asked if I could have a copy and one of them graciously offered to photo copy it for me before I understood about the paying for your own photo copies. (They’re cheap – 1 cent each copy. But I need to remember that for any copies of things I want the students to have.) I saw teachers hanging around after a meeting and saw that they were getting the school calendar for next year from the VP in charge of curriculum. He was installing it on their thumb drives, so I waited and asked for it too. Then I stopped at the internet on the way home and got it printed in black and white for 5 cents.

The internet place is a shop with maybe 8 computers in little cubicles and teenage boys with head sets are making loud noises as they play games on the computers.

I’m excited now that I know this really is vacation time. I didn’t go to school today for the first day since I got here (except for Sundays) Peace Corps wants us to “integrate” into our communities so they don’t want us hanging out with other volunteers. To spend the night anyplace other than our home we need to get permission in advance from Peace Corps in Surabaya. And we need a good reason, because we’re not allowed to take a vacation day for the first 3 months. And we need to tell them 48 hours in advance where we plan to go. At least that’s what I think the handbook is saying.

This past week I did meet up with the 3 other volunteers in my area. We met to make sure we could reach our Emergency Action Plan destination. I took a bus, but the other 3 volunteers were driven there by their families and counterparts. The counterparts and families all wanted us to go to an ancient temple about 20 minutes drive away, so I went with another volunteer and her counterpart. The counterpart was INSISTING that I spend the night with my friend and then go to the beach all together the next day. This is from the PC manual: “ Failure to notify the Peace Corps office prior to spending the night out of the community will result in disciplinary up to and including administrative separation.” (Home to America!) One thing that’s good here is that “Thank you” can simultaneously mean “No, thank you.” And “Thank you, I will later another time.” And “Thank you, yes.” So I kept saying, “Thank you.” And smiling. Every attempt at explanation was met with a very reasonable way around each explanation!

So, during this long (10 days – we had meetings Mon – Wed) vacation period before school starts I need to figure out things to do here at home. I would love to go to the beach – there’s one on the map 15 -20 miles away – and just see what it looks like. The problem is that public transportation only goes to big cities, not remote beaches. Most Indonesians drive (or rent) motorcycles and we are forbidden to ride a motorcycle. I need to go there and be back before dark. The 10 miles to the city center on a bus took 1 ½ hours. I can buy a bicycle with PC money but the traffic is so horrendous and the main road I need to take for everything is the primary road to Surabaya so it has lots of trucks, buses and fast vehicles (as well as a few horses, cows, becak – bicycles pushing people in a little cart like thing attached to the front) Anyway, I just question the safety. I’m either getting up some nerve or talking myself out of the bicycle – I haven’t figured out which yet. Also the map shows I need to go through a kind of mountainous area and the main road only goes part way to the beach.

I think most volunteers here are so restricted by their families and counterparts – they are afraid to let them take public transport by themselves. But since I established early on that I could get to Surabaya (5 hours away – 6 ½ coming home) all by myself, I earned some respect as a fearless traveler. I don’t think any teacher in my school has ever gone to Surabaya by themselves on public transport. They were shocked that I was being instructed to go there by myself.

Enough. The world is waiting. Love and hugs from Oma Colleen

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