Thursday, August 12, 2010
Ramadan 3 Mocca Syrup and other Words
When we break the fast in the evening, my family gives me hot mocca syrup. I asked if it was coffee and they said, “No, mocca is a fruit.” It’s really sweet and thick. They pour a little bit of it in a glass and add hot water. Maybe it’s date syrup. It’s the first thing they want me to drink after the 14 ½ hours of no food or drink. We also drink it at the 3:15 am meal.
And my Ibu mama gave me cookies to keep in my room! At first I thought it was a joke – give a fasting person cookies to keep in their room, but she explained, “No, this is for at night. If you are awake, go out on the porch and eat the cookies so no crumbs will be in your bedroom and you won’t have ants.” They are in a blue and red tin and are the exact same cookies you can get in the States – Danish Monde Butter cookies. I have fond memories of eating these as a kid. I always liked the pretzel shaped ones. Now, here I am, fasting for a month in Indonesia and I get a whole box to myself, to eat in the middle of the night!
Tomorrow, school starts again. I’m ready. I tried to translate what I want to work on this week:
“Receive from each child, key words, which are of particular importance to that child. Pleasant words won’t do. Respectable words won’t do. They must be words organically tied up, organically born from the dynamic of life itself. They must be words that are already part of a child’s being. No time is too long spent talking to a child to find out his key words. The key that unlocks himself. For in them is the secret of reading, the realization that words have intense meaning.”
I found this quote in some of my Peace Corps materials. I figure it will take me 30 minutes to explain what this means, get help from my team teachers in fixing my translation and talk to the kids about the words in Bahasa Indonesia that have meaning for me: sakti = spiritual power, fajar = dawn, etc. Words that stimulated me when I heard them. Words that set my imagination on fire. What is “spiritual power?” I want to know a society that has a word for that. Even if I can only scratch the surface of what that means, even if I can only inhale a little of that perfume, oh, how wonderful! And when can you say dawn is here? Is it now? Is it 2 minutes from now? Is it daybreak? Is it when it is still dark and you first sense dawn is coming? What does your word, “dawn” mean?
How can I find out their words? Are they Justin Beiber, World Cup Soccer, or True Love? Are their words Hunger, Thirst, Allah, or BFF? Last week I gave my 11th grade classes homework to write down 5 persons or things that are important to them. The 10th graders had to describe an experience that has made them different and tell me why. I have no idea if they will have accomplished those tasks, but I want to build on this exchange of ideas. I want to push them past the polite, expected responses into the realm of what makes us human, what motivates us to show up in a foreign country and reach out to people. I want to know them.
Classes will be shorter for Ramadan. I think. My team teachers may be more or less fixated on the poorly written text book. I try to incorporate into these lessons, whatever grammar or work the teacher is pushing for that day. For example, I chose past tense narrative for the 10th grade classes.
I like to begin each class with a song. I have taught the 3 different verses to “It’s a small world after all.” to 45 different classes! I have to tell you I’m a little sick of that song myself. But long range, what do I remember from my High School French classes. Very little. But I can still sing the song we learned! If I leave a legacy of songs and can persuade some teachers to focus more on the students and less on the curriculum, then Yippee!
Since I teach for such a short time to so many different students, I have some challenges. But I know what I’m good at. I’m a story teller. (I know you aren’t surprised.) But part of my job is to tell that same story to 15 different groups of children and with 2 different teachers, a little different each time, to keep the teachers engaged in the story too. And then get them (teachers and students) to share their stories. I love this job!