Just call me Ibu Karren. & be sure to roll the r's

Trip Start Jul 05, 2011
Trip End Jul 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ibu Rosina's home....

Flag of Indonesia  , West Java,
Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Monday morning,..time for a new school semester….students are fresh and well rested?? although some forgot to get a haircut before today and are pulled aside and their hair is right now being cut by teachers !  And im not hearing one complaint.  And then there are the late students who have to wait in formation out front until much later when they're permitted to join their classes.  So now it’s time for the flag raising ceremony and inspirational talk from Pa Yayat, the Head Master, or Principal. 

Men are addressed as Pa and then their first name, it’s like Mr., and women use the term Ibu, as in Mrs.  or Ms.?  Family names are not used….seems that people just kind of make up the last name (that’s what Im told) and it does not get passed down to the children.  So from here on I'm Ibu Karren…. and I get introduced at the flag raising, a solemn event during which the students stand straight and at attention, saluting and responding….looks to me like things are pretty serious around here.  But as I watch them, I catch an eye once in a while and they grin back and I start to see that teenage energy that translates right across cultural boundaries….a few are goofing around….things start to look familiar.   I know I'm going to make a speech and my nervousness totally dissipates with those sweet and eager faces. 

So I'm up there with my Selamat Pagi (excuse me if the spelling is not always correct).  That means Good morning, Selamat Cyang is afternoon and Selamat Matan is evening.  A few general rules to pronunciation is to pretty much say each letter as it looks, put the accent on the last syllable mostly,  make the c’s before vowels sound like ch’s, and when you’ve got an "ng", you have to squeeze the sound out of the back of your mouth.  There are no real tenses in Indonesian; it depends on context and expression.   Not too hard…although the words are entirely different than those based in Latin so it’s quite easy for me to completely say something wrong.  And then there’s Bahasa Indonesian, which is the central language here…but also Sundanese Indonesian…from different regions…many people seem to speak both.  I'm doing my best with my handful of words and then someone asks if Ive got Sundanese down yet….that would be rather ambitious. 

I've met the Green Club…we went for a hike thru the park the day before…those kids have already charmed me with their enthusiasm and sparkle….we sat and talked about environmental issues and what they’re doing / what our green club is doing…and I shared my extensive photo collection of my own ECOS students.  It is so cool to circle in the grass and share some food and conversation.   I'm just so excited to be here.

By the way, did you notice the uniforms?  On the teachers as well?  For teachers, Monday is green uniform day, Tuesday is tan uniform day and then I think it’s all about the BATIK.  The school buys the uniforms for the teachers and let me tell you there is some snappy batik to be worn here.  I've been gifted with a batik shirt (the later in the week uniform)…but I think i'm a little larger than most Indonesians might imagine and it’s beautiful but going to need a little tweaking.  I'm trying to be quite conscious about appropriate attire…I check in w Anni all the time…she’s my consultant…and I'm very glad to know that although I must wear long pants and have my feet covered, I can wear short sleeves.   And with my presentation schedule and the heat here, I'm grateful…seems like there’s always an opportunity to sweat profusely. 

And as for English?  My colleague and host teacher Anni, or Ibu Anni, speaks English pretty well…she teaches English here and also spent 5 months in the US (Kent State) through a scholarship program (the counterpart of the program that brings me here).  But the English speaking talent varies dramatically.   Many people know more than they think they know…they're just way too shy to use it with a native speaker (such as myself)…we all know how that can be….and then there are many teachers and students who have not yet fine-tuned their English abilities.  There are some students that choose to be bold and try out their language skills and some are just incredible.  So I try to speak slowly and clearly, leave out the expressions that mean nothing to them, and it all goes well.  I meet with large groups of students and we talk about how Indo/Amer students are different/the same….what motivates them, their goals, and we laugh a lot.  I’m feeling exhilarated by the connection and so fortunate to have this opportunity.

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licia fields on

did you get your hair cut ? maybe i could get a job there..... life in the school brings back memories ......

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