Wednesday, September 19, 2012
We were able to visit every grade level at the school and share a cultural presentation with the students. They had many questions, similar to what any teenager would ask.
Many of the issues that interest teenagers are the same irregardless of the country they call home. About 50% of the students had phones with an internet connection. For many of them the phone was their only source of internet access. The school did not have internet access for students that was reliable. Many teachers also had the same problems. From what I could tell the internet was not incorporated into classrooms. Much classroom time was devoted to lectures with the students diligently taking notes from power point presentations their instructors had prepared.
We had a day to explore Palembang with our host family. We were able to visit several cultural cites and get a feel for the city. Because we were traveling with the family I think we experienced the city differently than if we had be adults alone. It was a fun experience that really highlighted the cultural diversity found in Indonesia. We visited historical locations from colonial times, as well as Buddhist and native cultural cites. All of these different perspectives were infused with the modern Muslim culture. In American we are of many different cultures and differences are celebrated. In Indonesia the national identity is firmly established as Muslim. It is a uniting factor that makes the city life and culture cohesive. As a population with many differences, the Indonesians are united by their Muslim culture.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
A few days ago I mentioned to Sri that my birthday was coming up. I didn't think about it again until morning ceremony started and the entire school started singing happy birthday to me. It was the best birthday party I have ever had. They had candles for me to blow out and cupcakes. Thank you SMA 2!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Aster a three hour drive we arrived at SMA 2 (the 2nd high school in Sekayu) and were introduced to some of the teachers. Everybody was very nice and welcoming. We then met with the secretary of the education department and the the Deputy Secretary in the mayors office. It was quite a day!
Day 5, Sumatra bound
Jodi and I are the only two teachers that traveled to another island. Sumatra is a large island located north of Java. The flight was only 45 minutes but first we had to get to the airport. Did I mention that the traffic is horrible? I saw 4 people on one scooter. The previous record had been three.
Jodi purchased a traditional Songket, which is a ceremonial dress/scarf for women. Palembang is famous for these hand woven Songkets. One garment takes 3 months to complete. There were pictures of First Lady Laura Bush purchasing one from the same weaver we went to. The really expensive garments are woven with gold and serve as a status symbol for people native to Palembang. The ones below contain gold.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The day started with a trip to the park that represents the diversity of the land and peoples of Indonesia. There are over 300 languages in Indoesia, each with a different culture. We were able to see a small portion of the park but the house are very elaborately carved and generally on stilts. This helps them avoid high water during the rainy season and unwanted animal visitors from the surrounding jungle.
Each region has a unique pattern associated with it. These patterns are worn on fabric called Batik, and displayed on their homes. These are a few ot the most interesting.
The park has a section on the island of Komodo …….. complete with a Komodo Dragon. They only charge 10,000 Rupiah, (about $1) to go pet the dragon. Can you imagine a zoo in the US allowing you to pet a half tone, potentially deadly reptile? Of course I had to give it a try. Well actually several tries J
That evening students from two different schools came and performed traditional Indonesian dances. The students were from SMA 49 and other local schools. This is a traditional dance from Bali, another of the Indonesian islands.
SMA is the designation for a high school in Indonesia. We visited a local pilot school that is using global education with their nationally required curriculum. The students and staff were wonderful and excited to talk with us. There are 11 American teachers traveling with the program. We were able to meet with the Indonesian teachers that taught our same subjects.
Indonesia has free schools available for all students while they are in middle school. After that many but not all, schools charge a fee for students to be able to attend. The school still receives government support but the funds are not sufficient to operate a school. Indonesia recently increased the federal budget for education to 20% and plans to offer free education for all students.
The students are the same as American students in many ways, from facebook, Twitter, music, (they all know the Hanson Brothers), and Skype, right down to their shoes.