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Monday, August 29, 2011

Ramadan – One more day

I went to sleep thinking that my fasting was over. I woke up to lots of noise outside at 2:45am. I looked at my cell phone to check the time and saw that I had a message from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer.

“Turns out there is one more day of fasting. Gov’t just announced it. Dern.”

So I ate Sahur – the middle of the night meal from the left over food that’s always on the table, drank lots of water and went back to bed.

When I got up this morning my Ibu-mama said that they announced on television that the leader of the Mohammedan sect said that Ramadan ends today and the leader of the Nahdatul Ulama sect says that Ramadan ends tomorrow. The NU group is the largest in Indonesia and has over 50 million members here.

Ramadan ends at different times all over the world. It starts with the sighting of the new moon and ends with the sighting of the new moon. Each country has religious leaders who declare when it starts and stops. Indonesia is as wide as the United States. The moon rises at different times around the world and there is a slight phase change every day.

Every calendar here has August 30 and 31st listed in red. That means they are federal holidays. I assumed that it also meant that Idul Fitri is celebrated by 2 days of celebrations. I was wrong. It’s celebrated by a week of celebrations.

Okay. That’s the facts, as far as I know them and they might be right and they might be wrong. Here’s my reaction.

This is typical of my life here. I never really know what’s going on or why. It’s almost reassuring to realize that other people don’t know either.

My first reaction was, okay, another day – actually it kind of surprised me how easily I thought that. No resistance. I just climbed a super high mountain only to be shown that I’m not on the summit – I still have a ways to go.

When I was young and impressionable a young girl named Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbonize Liberation Army – a radical group in the US and I never did understand what they were protesting. She was the daughter of a wealthy man who owned many newspapers. Her kidnappers kind of brain washed her over the next few months and she assisted in a bank robbery and her picture was on television a lot with comments from psychologists. It seems that when you finally surrender to your surroundings in order to survive you do things that assure your survival in that group even if you normally wouldn’t do them in your every day life. When she was finally returned to her family she was released without any charges against her. She eventually married her body guard.

I expected Peace Corps to change me dramatically. It’s one of the reasons I signed up. Yes I wanted to save the world, one little piece at time but in the process I knew that something inside of me would have to change too. There are reasons why the Peace Corps slogans are “How far will you go to make a difference?” and “The hardest job you’ll ever love.”

Betsy, our Peace Corps Assistant Country Director here in Indonesia gave us a talk during our mid-service conference about “Changing behaviors.” She said that is what development worker do – their job is to change behaviors in countries where they are assigned. Something in me rebelled. I knew from some absolute place of truth that wasn’t MY job. She explained that you need to identify which behaviors the host country nationals want to change and what their resistance to the change involves and you go from there. All of that is very true and very acceptable and certainly something I would have agreed to do and certainly signed my name to when I first joined Peace Corps. And when I tried to look at what the heck was stirred up inside of me, I found that all my life I had tried to change people’s behavior, why was I upset about doing that now?

When we were still in the States we were given a little booklet called: A Few MINOR Adjustments. I’d describe it as a survival manual on cultural adjustment. Basically it says that the way we experience a culture is not as an abstract thing, but rather as the behavior and actions of people who have been conditioned by and respond in accordance with certain assumptions and values. It goes on to say that fist you learn to predict the behavior of host country nationals, then you accept the host country behavior and finally you change your own behavior. If you still do not like most of what the people around you are doing, you haven’t adjusted. The chapter ends with a section on Cultural Sensitivity and Can I still be me?

Two weeks ago when I had diarrhea and vomiting – at the same time – with no toilet (in the Western understanding of the word.) – something shifted. Actually, it had to. I had a slight fever and a little runny nose and I didn’t want to tell the Peace Corps Doctor because the last time I told him I had diarrhea he sent a car to bring me back to Surabaya, a 5-6 hour trip in a disposable diaper! It turns out, I talked the nurse out of sending me back, but it sure scared me enough to think twice before I shared my diarrhea stories again. But this time I was beyond miserable and when I went to school the next day I told my co-teachers what had happened and I went home a little early. (We weren’t teaching, it was Pondok Ramadan – Islamic teaching week.) I was home for half an hour in my room with the door closed; lying on the bed when my Ibu-mama knocks on the window and tells me the vice-principal was in the living room. Oh Shoot. I went out (without my jilbab headscarf and my calves exposed – I really wasn’t thinking very fast.) and sat down with the 2 co-teachers and the vice principal. It’s a Muslim obligation to visit the sick. The sick have the obligation to sit in the living room and convince the people that you really are okay. Now I was worried that PC would find out I was sick so I called the Dr. and all he told me to do was stop fasting and drink 3 liters of water with oral rehydration salts that day and 2 liters the next day and I’d be fine. He said it was viral. I think he meant something like a 24 hour flu bug. Anyway, it all turned out fine. The next day every teacher asked me about my diarrhea – you get used to this kind of thing – bowel functions are not a taboo subject here. While the teachers were here one of them said, “Oma, I think something is not just wrong with your stomach, something is wrong in your heart.” And I started to cry. It was true. Being sick absolutely made me realize how much I wanted the “comfort” of my own society, my own bathroom, my own control over what food I ate, my own little bed. I told them I wanted my family, that I thought everyone who is sick would naturally want to be in their own comfortable surroundings. They understood. They said yes, when you are sick you like your own family to squeeze and pinch your arm. (This is what people do here who love you and care for you – kind of a little massage. I prefer to be left alone. But they understood what I meant within their cultural context.)

Here’s where I think I am in all of this. Something inside of me has snapped. The rubber band has been stretched so far that it no longer can return to its original position. I live constantly with ambiguity. I really am not sure most of the time what people are saying, what they really mean (even if I can translate every word) or why they are doing what they are doing. I usually guess because that’s the way human beings work, we try to make sense out of our surroundings. But now I see that I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to predict what they will do or at least not being surprised when everything changes. I may not know why, but I see that there is a system of logic behind what people are doing – it makes sense to them. But the acceptance part, the changing my own behavior to conform to host country norms, the adjusting my own behavior so I don’t offend them, the behaving in a way they expect so that they become more accepting of me – that’s the hard part. I can see that part of me cracking apart. It feels like an invitation to surrender at a level deeper than anything I’ve surrendered to before.

Who am I? It kind of doesn’t matter any more. I’m a human being. I play the role of a teacher, a mom, a grandma, an American, a woman…..but who am I really? If I’m willing to live by a value system that I didn’t endorse, if I give up, “I’m right and you are wrong.” What’s left? It all becomes “This is the way we are behaving because we are in Indonesia and this is the way people behave in Indonesia.”

Now a little disclaimer. I am no way endorsing everything here. I don’t particularly care when students cheat or teachers cheat – I can see that’s what the system requires. But would I stand by and watch someone torture someone – I don’t think so.

An interesting side note – the more accepting I become, the more okay it is that everyone is the way they are, the more accepting I seem to be of myself.

You, sweet readers, who are still reading this incredibly long blog, may think I have cracked up. I may have. It might be only temporary. I don’t know. It might be the result of fasting for a month. Or totally unrelated. Or it might be that the person I have lived my life at being is no longer as important as I thought she was.

I’m kind of curious to find out what happens next. I’ll keep you posted.

Ramadan - 2 1/2 hours left

It's 3:00 pm on Monday 29 August. In 2 and a half hours I will be finished with fasting FOREVER. Ramadan ends, Idul Fitri begins and next year I will be in America. I should add "God willing."

I'm glad I did it these past 2 years and I feel that's enough. I have had my chance to bear hunger and thirst and crabbiness. It's not really an easy thing to do. I'm a lot more appreciative of the Islam religion after doing this. It takes some effort.

This year was a little harder due to diarrhea and vomiting so I stopped fasting for two days and just concentrated on eating crackers and drinking oral rehydration salts during the day. Then my body was a little reluctant to go back to the fasting routine for another 2 weeks.

I am glad it's almost finished. I notice that I have looked at the clock 3 times in the past 5 minutes. Afternoons are always my hardest. I feel a little fuzzy headed and I think it's mild dehydration - even though I drink almost 2 liters of water every night.

I have tried extra hard this year to participate in the kindness aspect of Ramadan... to not be angry, to not be frustrated, to not say anything bad about anyone. For me it was a lesson in awareness. (Example: Oh yes, I am starting to feel upset. Okay Colleen, just let it go...breathe in, breathe out.... Maybe they are behaving in a way that is totally appropriate. And when I looked at the situation a moment later, sure enough my perception of it had changed.) This is a useful skill for me to develop!

Okay - only 2 hours and 15 minutes left. I've got my water bottle on my desk. I think I'll distract myself with something else besides blogging.

Thanks for reading.
Oma Colleen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ramadan - Student voices 3

Class X-A, X-D, X-E and XI-IPA2 and XI-IPS-4

My students were really excited to be a part of this project to "export" their writings to America.

What do you like best about Ramadan?
Going around after midnight. (Andhika 15, Widodo 15)
Nuzulul Qur’an celebration, (see Night of Power question) Tarawih prayers, Fasting, Reading Al-Qur’an. (Febri 16, Kanthi 15, Uun 16)
Kolak banana. (traditional cold soup eaten when fast ends each evening) (Frishna 16, Nizar 17)

Do you like Ramadan? Why?
We can do anything good. We often meet with family. (Reza 16, Farid 16)
We like Ramadan because Ramadan month full of challenges and (good) luck. (Khusnur 17, M Soqiful 17, M Choirul 17)

What is the most important thing about Ramadan?
When we break the fast each day we drink some food named kolak. It is a sweet soup with banana as the main ingredient. (Mega 15, Putri 15)
Ramadan is a month full of God’s guidance. (Dhiny 15, Dwi 16)
Fasting and training the patience. (Elfira 15, Wari 15)
Fasting, prayers and reading the Qur’an in night and day. (Amirah 16)
Restrain yourself for food and drinks. Because this is already the rules. (Endah 16, Merri 16)

Do you have any special activities that you do after Ramadan?
We celebrate with our neighbors. We are brothers and we are family. (Adi 15, Yongky 15)
Yes, very funny (fun?) together after the fast of Ramadan. (Nindiy 17, Rima 16)

How do you feel when Ramadan is finished?
Very happy because we already finished the fasting for 30 days. We with hold self control from hungry, thirsty and angry. (Dana 15, Faishol 15)
Happy and energetic to celebrate Idul Fitri because Ramadan is finished one moon (month and moon are the same word in Indonesian) and all Muslim celebrate day of winning. (Fitria 15, Isna 15)

How do you keep yourself energetic during Ramadan?
We are always doing something interesting such as read the holy Qur’an, learn the science of religion and perform all religious activities that are fun and it multiplies the reward. (M Bagus 15, M Fandy 16)

What do you want Americans to know about Ramadan?
We must celebrate Ramadan with energy, happy and pleasure because Ramadan comes only once in a year. (Lana 15, Galeh 15)
I do not know about Ramadan in America because I stay in Indonesia and I have not yet gone to America. (Endah 17, Mariana 16, Rintha 17)

What are the rules of Ramadan?
During Ramadan we should: fasting, praying with serious, standing passion, kindness, reading al-qur’an, fearing negative things and doing positive things. (Novia 15, Puji 14)
When we are fasting we have to prove that we can be hungry and thirsty from Imsak (prayers before dawn) until Magrib (prayers at sunset) has arrived. (Ifa 15, Qumil 16)

Do you say any special prayers during Ramadan?
We pray to be good people. (Nurul 17, Rizki 16)

Who should NOT fast during Ramadan?
People who go away (travel) approximately 80 km. (50 miles) (Aryanti 14, Eka 14)
Women sufficient and human not Islam religious. (Laila 16, Esty 15)
Time the menstruation, grandma, grandpa and pregnant mom. (Lilya 16, Riska 16)
Baby or sick or pregnant human. (Enik 17, Naning 16)

Do you have a special Ramadan story?
Big meat in restaurant. ( maybe meat, maybe meeting with lot of family and friends?) (Iftihal 15, Cici 16)

How did you fast for Ramadan when you were a child?
When friends and I child we study fasting for half a day. And sometimes friends and I not fast because of the impact of my friends not fasting. (Fika 16, Rivatun 16)
When I was a child I did fast for a full day each day in Ramadan month and I must to re-train my passion. If I tired I went to bed and I sleeped in the afternoon. (Sugeng 17, M Arifuddin 15)

What happened the first time you fasted? How old were you?
The first time I fasted I feel hungry, thirsty and dull but fasting is an obligation for Muslim. (Nita 16, Riza 15)
7 years old. I happy because I eat banana kolak, many fruits and many other foods and prayers. (Gready 15, M Ilzam 16)

What do you want to tell Americans about fasting?
We must endure hunger and thirst. (Dahlia 15, Ulfa 15)

Do you have any special traditions before or after fasting?
Yes, I take a bath before fasting because it can clean the self. (Fika 16, Rivatun 16)
Party, Fire (works), Flowers, Usually my best friends and my family, In village, My love. (Amdhang 15, Darang 16)
After fasting Open Family (Open House) together and next prayers Tarawih. (Fatimatu, Pramesi)
Prayers and good relations. (Nico 17, Yoga 16)

What happens when you are fasting?
I feel hungry, thirsty and frowned. (Alfinatin 15, Nilna 15)

What happens on a normal day when you are fasting?
Before fasting I eat Sahur, (3:00am) next praying Tanatud and watching TV – Opera Van Java (religious program?) and waiting. Then I pray Subuh (4:20am) then I take a bath, then I go to school till 12:00 when we pray Dhurur together. Then I come back from school. I sleep. I get up. I am praying Ashar (3:00pm) and waiting for Adzan Magrib (call to prayer) for open (to end) the fasting. After fasting I am praying Magrib, (5:35pm) Ishyah (6:44pm) and Tarawih next to reading al-Qur’an. (M Abi 15, Doni 15)

How does fasting influence your daily activities?
The trick is to make a simple diet so the stomach can rest. (M Jauhar 16, Rehan 15)

Why are you fasting?
Because fasting is obligation for Muslims people in the world. (Firda 17, Ratna 16)
Fasting is resist hunger, thirst, emotion but fast also makes us healthy. (Lufi 16, Luluk 16)

What is Idul Fitri?
It is a glory day. We usually visiting others and forgive each other. (Sugeng 17, M Arifuddin 15)
Prayers together in the mosque and celebrate with kindness. (Linda 15, Arti 15)
It is the feast day for the Muslim community. (Lufti 16, Ponisri 16)
It is like Merry Christmas – day of the celebration of conquest. (Elma 15, Ngaina 15, Pramita 16, Uswtul 16)

What do you do for Idul Fitri?
We make ties of friendship. (visit others) (M Syaifudin 16, Zainal 16)
Party and fireworks. (M Tajjudin 16, Orien 17)
Me and my parents always visit at my grandma’s home. (Sokhibus 16, Apin 16)

What is your favorite food for Idul Fitri?
Soto Ayam is a kind of chicken soup with glass noodles content using the spice tumeric that is blended with other spices so that the aroma of chicken soup mixed with tumeric is very tasteless (tasty) Soto ayam can also be eaten with rice or slices of lontong. Soto is one of the famous foods in Indonesia. (Fajar 15, Panji 16)
Ketupat Sayur because usually ketupat sayur to open house for Idul Fitri and we eat the good food always together with Big (extended)Family. (Anita 15, Uswtun 15)
Steamed rice with fried egg. (U’un 16) Fried rice that is very hot. (Mamik 15)
Steamed rice and chicken with many kinds of flavor. (Bintang 16, Bobby 16)

Do you think Muslims want to live in America? Why?
Yes, because in America there are only a few persons that are Muslim, so that portion Muslim go to America for access instructions Islam in order that it can disseminate wide in every corner of the world. (Ulif 15, Citra 16, Lailatus 16)
Yes. They want to spread Islam all over the world. (Mila 15, Chandra 14)
No, we like to live in Indonesia. Indonesia have culture and customs different but firm one only. (Santi 16, Retno 16)
Maybe they are on holiday or have a job there. (Atik 15, Isra 16)
They want to study or they want to work in America. (Iftihal 15, Cici 16)

Do you think Americans should visit Indonesia during Ramadan?
No, I don’t think that Americans will visit because it is a month for Muslims and many Americans are Christianity people. (Eiluh 15, Sri 17)
Yes I do because they can know about Ramadhan by visit Indonesia and to study about the activities of Ramadan. (Lita 15, Tarik 16)
No, because I think not important. (Faturakhim 15, Mamlaul 16)

What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a Muslim in America?
We think it is the absence of the mosque there. There are many churches in America, if there is a mosque maybe just a bit because the more dominating is the church. (M Bagus 15, M Fandy 16)

Would you like to go to America for Ramadan?
No, because I would like to visit my family and celebrate Idul Fitri together. (Wulan 14, Nur 15)
No, I don’t like to go because for Ramadan I want to be with my family in my house. (Ika 16, Ambar 17)
Yes, I like it because I want to celebrate Ramadan in America. (Kholidatul 16, Novita 16)

Will you only marry a Muslim person? Why?
Yes, of course!!! Because if we married with a non-Muslim person will be difficult to unite two religion ideologies which are different from each other. It can disturb the relation and the children growing up. The children will be a doubtful person because they get different religion doctrine. It can influence the children personality. (Vira 15, Wilda 15)
Yes, because I want to have the husband that can guide me in the right way and not have the influence of another religion because the religion that is very right is just Islam. (Sulfaolita 16, Nur 15)
Yes, because it is obligation. (Wahyu 15, Berkah 15)

What do you want Americans to know about Islam?
The rules of Islam. (Mafise 15, Nisa 16)
Islam is the perfect religion because it refers to the holy book Al-Qur’an that Allah sent down to prophet Mohammad SAW for all people. ISLAM is for the prayers said during the day: Isya, Shubuh, Luhur, Ashar Magrib. (Dessy 14, Eka 15, Nadira 16)
I will go there and explain about Islam to Americans and invite them to come in Islam. I want to be like Nabi Muhammad. Or I will marry with American people and invite them for to come in Islam. ^_^ (Erna 15, Anis 17)

What do you want to tell Americans about being a Muslim?
Being a Muslim is very happy, because Islam is a perfect religion. Islam is down direct by Allah. (Aryanti 14, Eka 14)
We give rice or money to poor people in Ramadan before Idul Fitri. It’s name is zakat fitrah to purify our soul and our wealth and to celebrate Idul Fitri day with all of our big family for good will to all. (Endang 17, Ririn 16)

What is important to you about being a Muslim?
With the Moslem religion our thinking can not have a negative impact. (Nurul 16, Vika 15)
To be a Muslim makes us better. (Andri 16, Muhtaadin 16)
Prayers, fasting, kindness and respect to each other. (Siti 16, Salus 17)

How does your religion impact your daily life?
Increasing devotion to Allah. Verily the noblest among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious among you. From the word of Allah explains the necessity that the devoted live well and be the key to salvation and happiness in life in the world and the hereafter then will be a measure of the glory of one’s piety in the eyes of Allah. (Fajar 15, Panji 16)
It teaches me to be a kind person. (Anita 15, Uswatun 15)
I always doing with happy fun. (U’un 16, Mamik 15)

What is the most important thing about your religion?
Praying. Praying must do 5 times a day. Except praying, in the Islam religion that good deeds don’t important. (I am not sure what Irma and Reni are saying.) (Irma 15, Reni 16)
Prayers, obligatory alms at the end of the Great Lent, fasting at Ramadan and the need to make a pilgrimage to Mecca for them who are able to. (Dewi 16, Leli 16)
Religion very impact to existence. (Gita 16, Weny 16)

What are the obligations of a Muslim?
Respect for people rich or poor. (Lilya 16, Riska 16)

How do you feel when you pray?
I feel getting closer with Allah. I feel quiet. Protection from Allah. (Livy 15, Tary 15)
If I am pray I am feel very happy and in my heart feel quiet. (Ratna 15, Ismafatul 15)
I feel peace heart. (Bayu, Ilmanudin)
Happy and moved. (M Tajjudin 16, Orien 17)

Why do you pray?
We pray to ask for what we want. (Yefi 15, Alfanda 15)

What is the Night of Power?
It is the time the al-Qur’an book was brought down to Mohammad s.a.w. prophet in the Hero Cave and this is one of the miracles given to Mohammad. He saw from Allah SWT Al-Qur’an as a compass for mankind of Moslem and the last of the book that Allah SWT gave are Sabur, Injil and Taurat. (Dyah 15, Tia 16)
It is a holy day in which Muslims celebrate the day when Al-Qur’an was divined in Hira cave to the prophet Muhammad SAW.

What is Pondok (Cottage)Ramadan?
It is about worship, teaching doctrine, the customs and the days that are considered special by the Islamic religion. Also places considered sacred and so on. (Rindang 14, Salma 15)
Extra curricular in the school that has a purpose to give religious science. (Zulfaolita 16, Nur 15)

What do you do during Pondok (Cottage) Ramadan?
My activities are prayers, to stand hunger, thirst and desire. (Rita 15, Yolanda 15)
Pondok Ramadan is can to reward. (able to give us benefit…?) (Diah 15, Yozega 15)

I apologize for any mistakes. Students - Please tell me about them and I will fix the blog.

Ramadan - Student voices 2

Class X-C, X-F, X-G and XI-IPS1

What do you do for Idul Fitri?
I wear a new dress and I ask for sorry from all people so that I will become holy. It is the moment when non-Muslim people celebrate with Muslim people. (Ravika 16, Siti 15)
I clean my house and wait for my guest is welcome. (Eni 15, Arina 16)
Celebrate. (Afrian 16, Alfin 16)

Do you think that Muslims want to live in America? Why?
Muslims living in America can show Americans that Islam is an easy and simple religion. Muslims can teach Americans to understand Islam and they can study the prayers and readings of AlQur’an and other activities. (Arinal 16, M. Yusuf 16)
Everybody has a principle for life. (Nasa 15, Yoga 17)
Yes I do because I want a holiday, a special place for recreation. (Dian 16, Liana 16)

What do you want Americans to know about Islam?
Islam is a religion of love piece (peace). Islam is not a religion that likes violence. Islam observes other religions. It teaches that humans should love generously. (Danang 15, Ulum 15)
Islam is beautiful and it gratifies. (Mazida 15, Anggun 15)
Ramadan is a holy moon (month) a forgiveness moon and we must seriously to prayers. (Reni 15, Fitriana 15)
Yes I do. (Nunung 15, Wulan 16) (No explanation given.)

Why are you fasting?
It is an obligation for the Muslim human race to do fasting. We get training to be patient, to feel what poor people feel and to have a healthy body life. (Nur 15, Roidatun 15)
We study to resist anger and our body being healthy. (Faiqotul 15, Risky 15)
It is our custom and I very happy because of fasting. (Bagas 16, Pradana 16)
Because as Muslim community we have fasting obligation. (Desi 15, Rizqi 15, Karisma 15)
Because fasting already an obligation of Muslim people. (Ahmad 16, M Asnawi 16)

Do you like Ramadan? Why?
Yes. Because Ramadan activities are many prayers, to hold hunger and thirst and at last to celebrate Idul Fitri. (Nilla 16, Evi 17)

What is Pondok Ramadan? (Literally – The Cottage of Ramadan)
School activities every fasting moon (month) to make the character of Muslims - practice prayers, learn Al-Qur’an. (Vina 16, Umi 16)
We always go to school and listen to speech form my teacher and prayers. (Rahayu 15, Riska 15)
We read Holy Al-Qur’an and do much sholat prayers. (Fathur 15, Evan 16)
Studying Usmani together. (Reni 15, Fitriana 15)

Will you only marry a Muslim person? Why?
Yes, because always parents wish Muslim equality and therefore have a deep family. (Vina 16, Umi 16)
Yes, because if I don’t marry with a Muslim person I will be cut from Islam. (Yudi 18, Rofiq 15)
Yes. Sure, because if a Muslim person marry with a non Muslim the law of balance will not be permitted. (Dyah 15, Wine 15)
Because to marry is an obligation of a Muslim person. (Khusnul 16, Wahyu 16)

What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a Muslim in America?
Adaptation, because there are seldom Muslim people and Muslims can’t do activities like in Indonesia. A Muslim have to be careful with something which he eat, because in America a Muslim don’t know about foods which are halal / haram. (Muslims do not eat pork products.) Besides that it is difficult for a Muslim in America to get information about the Islamic religion through Islamic priests, but he / she can search the internet for information. So, actually if we being a Muslim in America isn’t so difficult. But if we want to get information about Islam everything will be okay. (Chusnul 15, Uswatun 16)
In America, being a minority. It is very difficult for adaptation. (Diah, Nurul)
Being a Muslim in America is the same as being a Muslim in Indonesia – the same traditions, activities, fasting are also in America. (Irma 15, Anisa 15)

Would you like to go to America for Ramadan?
Yes, because we wish to better know American persons and we wish to enjoy the beautiful world there. (Mustika 14, Tutut 16)
I wouldn’t like to go to America. (Rohmad 15, Argo 15)
Yes, I like to go to America for Ramadan but I haven’t money to go to America. (Adhetya 16, Laelatul 16)

Do you think Americans should visit Indonesia during Ramadan? Why?
No, because fasting in America or Indonesia is equal but if you want to observe the month of Ramadhan don’t false visit Indonesia. (Nabila 15, Halimatus 15)
Yes, I do because Americans must study about Ramadan in Indonesia. (Nidya 16, Rani 14)
Observe (respect), because equal human must mutually be generous. (Mira 15, Safinatur 15)

How do you feel when Ramadan is finished?
Very happy because after Ramadan we celebrate the great day of Ied of Fitr and prayers and visit family. (Fatimah 15, Ummu 15)
Happy because we to forge links in a rope with good relations with the Muslim community. (Riadhotul 15, Tri 16, Uun 15)
I feel sad because Ramadan is finished. (Eva, Lia)
Sad because the obligation for one year is met. (Arga, Risky)

What is your favorite food for Idul Fitri?
Snow cake, candy, jelly and cakes because all of it is delicious food. (Eka 15, Fitriva 15)
A rice cake boiled in a rhombus shaped packet of plaited young coconut leaves – and it maintains good relations. (Juwita 15, Wenty 15)
Chicken (Sihani 17, Eva 17)

How does religion impact your daily life?
Challenges pull us but our religion is very perfect in this world. (Eka 15, Fitriva 15)
The impact is we can be a good person, a generous person and more. Actually this is a good thing. (Sofik 16, Najiah 15)

How does fasting influence your daily activities?
I very happy. I NOT hungry and thirsty. I can meet my friends and joke and always find energy. It is a challenge for a Muslim. (Novi 15, Anny 15)

What is the most important thing about your religion?
Prayers, also fasting, good deeds and being generous. (Angga 15, Bagus 16)
It’s prayers. (Lina 16, Nuril 16)

What is the most important thing about Ramadan?
We must be patient every time. We can get forgiveness from Allah. (Anggi, Chandra 15)
Communal reading of the Koran. (Ana 17, Eti 16)
Commit prayers and fast. (Freni 17, Risky 17)
Prayers and fasting. (Alif 16)

What happened the first time you fasted? How old were you?
I to feel very hungry and thirst. My body felt weak. Don’t have energy for to do activity. For hours only to wish sleep and constantly to look at clock because not patient for waiting. Especially when fast is during summer and the body to feel very very hungry and thirst. (Della 15, Lailalul 15)
When I have age about 7 years old. It is very hard to do, but I try to do it and I can do it. The first day, the second day and third day I do fast with happy but when the last day I very proud because I can do it perfectly. (M Alea 14, Rendy 15)
Small children usually begin fasting after dzuhur. (Noon prayers) (Nurul 16, Zuli 17)

What is the Night of Power/ Nuzulul Qur’an during Ramadan? (What is the power of Ramadan?)
Power during Ramadan is the intention of the heart – to stay strong fasting. (Della 15, Lailalul 15)
Nuzulul Qur’an is turning the Al-Quran to Mohammad. We hope to pray all night to be able to have kindness fixed in the world we live in. (Dyah 15, Maya 15)

What are the rules of Ramadan?
Holding a sensation of hungry, thirsty and carnal desire and to increase prayers, devotion for nearing to Allah. (Ika 15, Vanessa 15)
To endure carnal desire. (Uthia 16, Bidayatur 15)
To resist passion. (Nasa 15, Yoga 17)
Not eat, not drink. Start before Imsa’. Finish at Magrib. (M Budi 15, Yuli 15, M Edi 15)

Who should NOT fast during Ramadan?
If she is people non Muslim. (Anik 17, Hendrika 16)
People after childbirth, people sick, people pregnant, people give suck (nursing mothers), people menstruation, people traveler or people road far, or people age advance old. (Lailalul 15, Wahyu 15)
Crazy people, sick people, menstruation people. (Pradana 15, M. Irkham 16)
The people non Muslim. (Zaed 17, Hanip 16)

What do you like best about Ramadan?
We increase to do kindness, to bring our self closer to Allah and to carry out the prohibition and instruction of Allah. (Maria 16, Novia 16)

What challenges do you face when you are fasting?
I am arrest for hunger and desire from the rising of the sun as far as be drown of the sun. (Alvi 15, Zainal 14)
We feel hungry, thirsty and week (weak) at evening. (Dyah 15, Maya 15)
All matter to cancel fasting. (Umi15, Ambar 15)
Hungry, thirsty. (Adirir 17, Lirds 17)
Weather, temperature, health. (Ana 17, Eti 16)

How do you feel when you are fasting?
We feel hungry, thirsty but because we have an obligation we are firm. (Arizkhi 17, Melina 17)

What do you feel when you pray?
I feel calm and I feel near with Allah. (Eni 15, Arina 16)
Peace, kindness, pleasant and fixed. (Evy 15, Fitria 15)
I feel that my heart is calm and peaceful. (Dinia 15, Riiha 17)
Energetic. (AB Zainul 16, Priyo 16)

Why do you pray?
Because prayer is the street (path) to give something to God. (Isnaini 15, Sulis 15)

Do you say any special prayers during Ramadan?
Yes, I wish success on someone. Amien. (Amen) (Elis 16, Niza 16)

How do you keep yourself energetic during Ramadan?
I look for the blessing. (Diah, Nurul)
Sleep enough. Eat a meal before day break. (Anisa 15, Irma 15)

What do you want to tell Americans about being a Muslim?
I like Muslim. I love Muslim. (Zaed 17, Hanip 16)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ramadan – Student voices 1

This is information for the internet to tell Americans about Ramadan.

Class X-H, XI IPA-1, XI IPA-3, XI IPS-2, XI IPS-3 and XI Agama

I asked my students in grade 10 and 11 to tell me more about Ramadan. They chose the questions and worked with partners.

Why are you fasting? What do you want to tell Americans about fasting?
Because it is an obligation of the human race. (M. Hasan 16, Nano 16)
Fasting is one of the Islam principles. (M Rizal 15, Rudi 17)
To be patient and not have a bad prejudice of other people. (Afidatul 16, Atik 15)
Fasting defends our traditions and then we get to celebrate the feast. (Ratna 16, Lis 16)
Because we are obliged to do it every year and it is our tradition. (Atik 16, Fika 16)
To restrain thirst and hunger. (Binti 17, Riza 16)
We can practice being patient and we can observe people. (Fitria)

How does fasting influence your daily activities?
Fasting makes for no energy in activities and makes the body frown. (Binti 15, Ika 16)
I get up at 3:00am for a meal. I am used to this from the age of 8 so I am used to starving from 4am till 6pm so fasting does not affect my daily activities because it was unusual for me. After 30 days Muslims celebrate Idul Fitri, the closure, the feast of the diamond. We are very pleased with the arrival of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Eid because it is a day of victory. (Rindi 16, Lea Shella Cobra 16)
It makes us more patient to face all challenges. (Devi 16, Dewi 16)
It can make health. (Lulfi 16, Yeni 17)

What happens when you are fasting?
Hungry, thirsty, jealous, generous, traditions. (Fenk 16, Lola 16)
We feel thirsty, hungry, sleepy, choked, lazy but we must keep the fast. (Rizaldi, A Kandi)
I see my intention for effort to fast and I must walk with sincerity from before daybreak till we break the fast. (Basofi, Luri)
We read Al-Qur’an and after fasting celebrate Idul Fitri. (Canistia 16, Vitriana 16)

What challenges do you face when you are fasting?
To guard against a passionate emotion and the effort to speak honestly. (Ruhmaia 15, Indra 15)
Hungry, thirsty. (Rendi 16, M Khoirun 17)
To hold hunger and thirst, to loose the feeling of hunger and thirst, but I can do activities to forget it like watching TV and other activities. (Abghi 15, Artin 16)
Hungry, thirsty and holding anger. We must be generous and energetic when fasting. Also for a Muslim must perform prayers. (Tri 16, Yuliana 17)
Also no smoking for a boy. But Muslims are always happy when fasting comes. (Kiptiyatul, Anatus)

What is the most difficult part of Ramadan?
To bear hunger and thirst and do positive activities like reading the Al- Qur’an while we wait for sunset. (Ermi 15, Luluk 15)
The many Islamic activities that add merit. (Desi 16, Yunita 16)
The most difficult is to restrain from anger with any people because it can decrease the reward for fasting Muslim and Muslimah (female Muslims) (Riza 15, Ngalimatul 15)
I think Berhak - to remove anger. This is the most difficult but we must have the face of a Muslim for mankind. (Riza, Isna)
In my mind, to keep the passion inside is very difficult, like hungry, angry and thirsty. To restrain it I do positive activity like reading a holy Qur’an and reading a book. (Arina 16, Siti 16)

What obligations do you have during Ramadan?
Fasting, prayers, bear hungry and thirsty and we must bear passion too for example don’t be angry. (Ratna 16, Heni 16)
Fast, pray, be religious, observe poor people, celebrate and pray. (Arin)
At the fasting month Moslem people do not get angry to observe this month. (Maratus 16, Nur 16)

What do you want Americans to know about Ramadan? What is the meaning of Ramadan?
It is a merciful month, we show mercy to others. I think Americans may be interested in Islam. (Irma 14, Hanifatur 15)
It is to endure passion and desire and not have a bad impact. (Finasti 14, Dwi 15)
Fasting brings good influence to us because there are so many challenges during fasting month. (Ervina 16, Miftiana 16)
In my opinion all peoples must know about Ramadhan cause Ramadhan is the big day for all Moslem in the World and Ramadhan makes us becoame the best more than other months ^_^ (Nida 15, Paramitha 15)
Ramadan is a month of full blessings like: rewards, kindness and generous. (Titik 16, Septiana 16)
Ramadan is month of kindness. I like it when we break the fast at 17:30 together with my family. (Tri 17)
In the moon (month) of Ramadan we must say many prayers to Allah. (Aprilia 16, Nia 16)
We restrain hunger and thirst but we must be energetic. Fasting challenges us as Muslims. (Anis 15, Intan 15)
We must detain thirst, hunger and desire. We maintain good relations with our family. (Rahmawati 17, Riska 16)
Ramadan is the one winning month for Islamic people. (Miftahul 17, Ahmad 17)

What do you want to tell Americans about being a Muslim?
It is a harmonious faith. (Nais 15, Trias 15)
Muslims are sure that Allah swt (The most pure) is true. There are some obligations: belief, prayers, and obligatory alms, fasting and making the pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims who are able. Thank you and sorry. (Astiya 16, Durotul 16)
It is possible in America that there is not much impact – maybe Muslim people are only 10 – 30% of Americans. But they can still observe and socialize and pray in the mosque. (Aldini 16, Sita 16)(Note: There are 8 million Muslims in America - about 2% of the population.)
Being a Muslim is beautiful. (Aggeng 16, Alfin 16, Dhiya’ul 16)
Muslims have an obligation for prayers five times a day, obligatory alms, making a pilgrimage to Mecca and saying before people that you are a Muslim and reading Syahadat. (Usmirotul 16, Lucky 16)
A Muslim must wear a jilbab, good clothes and give alms to others. (Khusnul 17, Xlasihatul 17)

What is important to you about being a Muslim?
Being a Muslim can deliver you to heaven’s door. (Sevi 16, Rohima 17)
Worship as in prayers, fasting and religious tax and to do a good job when we worship. (Zakiyahil 16, Zuli 17)
I very happy being a Muslim. (Dwi 16) I like it because I love Islam and Islam is beautiful. (Intan 16)
There are 5 important parts: syahadad (declaration of faith), prayers, fasting, haji – go to Makkah (Mecca) (Devya 17, Presrana 16)
Fasting and prayers 5 times a day. (M Yusuf 16, Nrar 16)
Always fasting for 30 days in Ramadhan and at idul Fitri to visit all the houses of my family and praying in the mosque. (Arina 15, Hefti 16)

What special traditions do you observe prior to fasting?
We have a religious memorial banquet (Hammi, Farid)
Usually my family goes to the grave for prayers for my family who has passed away. (Ika 16, Lilis 16)

What do you do to celebrate the end of the fasting month?
We forgive each other and then the children always receive some money from their relatives. (Himah 15, Lailatul 15)
We make a feast for a statement to say Thank You to God because we got to welcome Ramadan again. (Irmawati 16, Ayu 15)
We have Happy Idul Fitri and pray and celebrate each year. (Vina 16)

What is Idul Fitri? How do you celebrate Idul Fitri?
A day to celebrate success because we have been fasting for one month. ( Frisma, Reita)
The day Islamic people go to the mosque and do Idul Fitri prayers and they forgive sometimes. (Bimo 15, Musrifin 17)
Usually Islamic people pray Idul Firtri in a mosque, then they arrive from house to house to forgive something from each other and eat food that has been prepared in their home and on the 8th day they celebrate their feast day again! I like to eat the ketupat, the cake, and the snacks and wear new clothes and play with fireworks and fly a big balloon. (Haman 16, M. Arwani 17)
It is the Win Day of Muslims. Their hearts are so holy. In mosques together all Muslim people resound with Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar… meaning God is Great. That is really fun. (Nafissatul 17, Ukhti 16)
It is a shared anniversary for the Moslem race after the obligations of religious fasting. The month brings patience to the heart. Idul Fitri is a power day for Muslims to celebrate being nice. (Alvian 18, Yulian 17)
It is a day of victory for Islamic people. (Rina 16, Ulfa 16)
We celebrate winning over the fasting for one month. (Agustina 17, Nur 16)
Special day for all Muslims, prayers in the mosque at morning. (Eko 16, Novan 16)

What are the rules of Ramadan?
We pay a religious tax because it an obligation for all Muslims to give to the poor. (Dewy, Afif)
We give a division of our treasure to poor people. (Durin, Ulfa)

How does religion impact your daily life?
We must always be optimistic that Allah will give the best to us and we must always do His instruction and stay away from His prohibitions. (M. Rizqi 16, M. Nanda 16)
We are more energetic when we study and pray but sometimes we are tired and thirsty when we play football or volleyball. (M. Deaky 15, A. Albar 15)
My religion is very important for my life. It guides my life. My religion is very true. The rule of my religion is to do kindness. (NM Pandu 16, M TAufiq 16)
My obligation to prayers 5 times a day and to resist hungry and thirsty. (Fitria 17, Elga 16)
Islamic religion is the best of my life and it is the principle of my life. (M Yasin, Nurul)

Do you say special prayers during Ramadan?
Ramadan is a noble month and prayers can disappear problems that are a burden (Dewi, Anjar)
About 7:00pm we go to the mosque together and pray 20 rokaat then continue to pray with 3 rokaat. (This is following the regular 4 cycles of the standard Islamic stand, kneel, forehead to floor prayer sequence. I rokaat takes about 3-5 minutes) (Diyah 16)
Reading Al-Qur’an and prayers of Tarawih and Witir. (M Syamsul 15, M Alwi 16)
We execute Tatawih prayers so we do not perish. (Fitri 16, Desti 16)
We say special prayers during Ramadan so that the praises come back. (Achmad M Nur)

How do you keep yourself energetic during Ramadan?
Drink 4 glasses of water at Sahur (3:30am) and always smile and pretend to not be thirsty and hungry and to eat fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and to be always mindful of Allah SWT (Peace be upon him) (Diah 15, Novi 15)
Always have positive thinking and eat fruits and vegetables, fresh. ( Imam 15, Ryan 16)
I do keep myself energetic by sleeping. (Asad 16, Farid 16)
I climb over (overcome) my feeling of being hungry. (Nur 17, Putri 18)
I do activities that are easy and enjoyed. Examples: reading a story book, watching TV, short messaging services (texting) with my friends. When we finish fasting we eat many kinds of foods pregnant with vitamins. (Intan 16, Elok 16)
Don’t do too many tiring activities, eat the nutritious consume, and keep to power. (Agus, Hadi)

How old were you the first time you fasted and what happened?
5 years old – I felt hungry and thirsty but is was a challenge for me to be patient. (Hanim 15, Anis 15)
I feel happy because fasting is a challenge and if we do kindness we have a reply twice for Allah swt (The most pure.) (Devi 16, Riska 16)
I was 6 years old. I must get up every morning to a meal in the night and I was very lazy to do it. But I’m very happy to fast because it makes my body healthy. When we break the fast it is a special moment. (Atina 16, Nurul 17)
I old 6 years (Dewi 16) I old 7 years (Ika 17) We feel thirsty but happy because we can feel Ramadan this year. To me fasting is important because it guards against lust.
First time I fasted 7 years old;. (Bayatul 16) and 10 years old (Elin 16) I feel happy and energetic but also hungry, thirsty and choked.

Do you like Ramadan? Why?
Yes, because it is an obligation of a Moslem person. (Abdul, Sodiq)
Ramadan is a month of full blessing and pleasure.(Citra 16, Siska 16)
What I like about Ramadan is that we break the fast Together with people and people are generous. During Ramadan we observe people – the afternoon is when the challenges often happen: hunger, thirst and jealousy. (Ervina 15, Siti 16)
Yes, because fasting makes people healthy and smart. (Dewi 16, Marinda 15)
Yes, Ramadan is a month of full blessing, reward, holiness, mercy, patience and forgiveness. (Whyu 16, Ferida 16)
Yes, I am hungry and thirsty but I am very very happy. (Yayuk 16, Heny 16)
Yes, it is a month full of blessings. (Kiki 17, Indah 17)
What I like best: reading Al- Qur’an, praying Tarawi’h, Sahur / dinner, and Berbuka Puasa / Breakfast (Happy 17, Urvi 17)

Will you only marry a Muslim person? Why?
Yes, because that is the Islamic rule so there is a side to sacrifice in religion (Sultan 15)
Yes, because of past rules, traditions and Muslim municipality. (Baridatul 16, Wahyu 16)
Yes, because in Al-qur’an – don’t marry different religions, unless you expect the person you marry to move to the Muslim religion. I want to find a woman who is already grown-up, nubile and knows good and bad. (Himawan 16, Gala 15)
Yes, it is my principle of being a Muslim. (Benny 17, Jalu 16)
Yes, because I am a proper Muslim and because of Surah Rasulullah RAW. (in the Holy Qur’an) (Relna 16, Aprelia 16)
No, because Hadits explain how we can marry with a non-Muslim. Example Sunan Kalijogo (Muslim religious leader) married a person from China. (Who became a Muslim) (Iva 17)

Do you have a special Ramadan story?
In the middle of the night (3:00-3:30am) we must wake up and eat sahur. (Nurul 16, Titik 16)
Yes, I am energetic to walk when I am fasting. (M Zmrul, Niko)
Yes, I have a special Ramadan story. (Eko)

On Eko's paper I did ask him "What is the story?" I'll let you know if I find out.
During this Ramadan I am praying for the families and friends of people who read this blog.
Love and Peace.
Oma Colleen

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ramadan – First few days

I just finished eating. My stomach is full and I’d like to just lay down and stare at the ceiling but that’s about all I’ve been doing for the past several days so I thought I should do something more productive – so here’s a blog about how Ramadan has started for me.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow there is no school. So I set my alarm, get up at 3:30am, eat the food that is left out on the table from the night before, drink as much water as I possibly can, pray for the people I said I’d pray for and go back to bed.

It’s noisy at night so I don’t sleep well. There are fireworks and prayers on loudspeakers and in this neighborhood someone gets up at 1:30am and plays a “musical” instrument made out of bamboo pipes and also something metallic.

Around 5:00 I wake up for good and go for a walk around the neighborhood. I walk until 7:00 on non-school days. Then I come back, take a mandi splash bath and do some laundry, check my email, read books, play sudoku, read the holy Qur’an, check to see if my laundry is dry, iron a few clothes, rearrange my closet, spend some more time staring at the ceiling and thinking about being hungry, check the internet about the trip to the turtle hatching beach that I’m planning for September, think about how other people in this world have it a lot worse than I do, visit with some students who stop by and lay down again.

Hunger feels like a hot feeling in my belly. Not awful, just warm and a little achy. I haven’t felt very thirsty this year because it’s been overcast the last few days and I walk early in the morning when it’s cool and because I’ve been able to drink almost 8 cups of water every day. The only thirst feeling is a slight headache as it gets close to late afternoon and evening. There is a word in Indonesian that I really like – pusing – it means dizzy but it’s what people say you feel when you fast, also what you feel if you can’t have a cigarette when you want one, or what you feel when you’re tired. It’s kind of a general expression like “I feel spacey.” Or “I just don’t feel well.” Or “I’m nauseated.” Or “I ‘m a little disoriented.” Sometimes I feel that if I get up too quickly from a laying down position.

As soon as the 5:35pm magrib prayer sounds, my Ibu-mama says, “Oma, please eat,” and I start off the meal with a drink of cool coconut milk with sugar and chunks of coconut, watermelon and jelly in it. Then I eat a plate of whatever food there is.

Then I go back to my room and read some more and drink some more water. I usually lay down around 8:00pm but I wind up getting up several times in the middle of the night to recycle all that water. Oh well, as they say…It isn’t easy getting old, but it beats the alternative. And every time I wake up I drink a little more water and if I feel like it, I eat some beef jerky or some cashews that my daughter brought me.

My host family is not fasting. So during the day when they are cooking outside my window I sometimes just walk out there and inhale deeply and tell them how good it smells.

I have one more “do nothing” fasting day and then I get to teach for several mornings. Yea!

I do meditate sometimes, or maybe I spend a lot time in that quasi-aware but not really paying attention state. I would say I feel more peaceful.

I don’t pay as much attention to the food, eating quickly becomes something to get nutrients in as fast as possible. My stomach feels full fast so I try to make sure there’s some protein in the first few bites before I give up and say, that’s it. I just can’t put any more in.

I've learned a little bit about Muslim teachings. Humans are made from clay. Angels are made from light. And Jinns are made from fire. They are a lot like humans because they have brains and emotions but not bodies. The brother of one of my students told me that the good Jinns are Muslims but then I think he felt bad because he realized I wasn't a Muslim. I told him it was okay. I gave him a Readers Digest in English and he told me that if I have any questions about Ramadan or Islam that I could ask him - so if anyone in America (or any place else) has any questions, let me know.

In my own little realm of experience "Jin" is my sister in Texas. Hi Jin!