26 October 2012

Early Halloween + Pontianak at 241 years

[From Sunday 21 October 2012]

I had a wonderful weekend. I just came back from the second Sunday Dinners event in Pontianak. The dinner is an opportunity for Jordan, Anna, and me to bond with each other and our Indonesian friends over cooking dinner. Anna, the ELF at Universitas Tanjungpura (UNTAN) came up with the idea. Tonight for dinner we had crab, shrimp, fried sweet potatoes, salad, guacamole, and fruit (mangoes, papaya, and pineapples). The dinners are a good short break from nasi goring (fried rice) and any other food containing peanut butter (i.e gado-gado (green leafy vegetables + bean sprout doused with spicy peanut sauce).

Before the dinner, Willie (a friend whom I met at the first dinner) and I went shopping for the fruits and milk. On our way to the store Istana Buah (Fruit Palace), we stumbled upon a parade on Jalan Gajah Mada, one of Pontianak's main roads. The parade celebrated Pontianak at 241 years. It also served as a traditional wedding dress competition. It was a lovely sight. There were at least 10 couples dressed in traditional Melayu and Indonesian wedding attire. The beautiful wedding dresses overwhelmed me with joy. I was glad we went down that street to get the fruit! We watched the parade for about 45 minutes before we went to Istana Buah.

Parade participants holding wedding gifts.

Yesterday was a busy, but equally fun, day. In the morning, I held the English Club at my school for about 14 students. We worked on greetings and introductions. I instructed the students to work together in pairs after my explanations. The main speaking and listening activity had the students introducing their partners after their conversations. 

After English Club, I hopped on my bicycle and went to the American Corner at UNTAN. Jordan, Anna, and I had to present on Halloween. We decided to have the presentation a week before the holiday weekend because next Saturday, 26 October, is the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. When Jordan and I finished our presentation on the history and main activities of Halloween, we went to our activity stations. We had a station for apple bobbing, mask-making, costume-making, trick-or-treating, and games. A couple of weeks ago, when we were in meetings planning for this, I was not sure how the event would turn out. I wondered about how the event would be received by 20-something year old university students. Answer: They loved it. We had a total of at least 42 participants running all over the place tailoring their costumes made out of newspaper, coloring their masks, and vigorously bobbing for apples. We had a great time. I decided to color a mask as well. I was so into it; I picked my colors carefully and tried to stay inside the lines. It reminded me of being in my high school art class. 

 Dian, one of the student volunteers at UNTAN, was a witch. 

My turn to bob for an apple. 

The bobbing for apples crew.  

The costume-making station. 

The mask-making station. 

What a costume! 

Being Gleeks taking a picture under the Glee poster. 

My favorite mask. 

My mask :).

Jordan with some bobbing for apple participants.

The event ended about an hour and a half later with an impromptu photo shoot and a massive clean-up. Soon after, I met up with two students for English lessons. I had invited the students to my house for an informal English club and Ellen and Prisca were the only ones who expressed interest. I started off the lesson by having them tell me what they did before they came to my house. By doing that, we worked mainly on the past tense. This was the first time I let students into my house. I was worried they might tell everyone where I lived. So, I was happy to open my doors and work with the students outside of the classroom.

Until next time! :-)

18 October 2012

A Week of Firsts

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to ride my bicycle to school. In a previous post, I wrote that I didn’t want to ride my bicycle because the traffic was heavy and I was afraid that I might get into an accident. I usually got a ride to and from school with Herman (the Whitney Houston fanatic), and if I needed to go anywhere else, someone would pick me up with his or her moto or I would walk. I realized that I had to get over my fear and that my independence and mobility were tied heavily to being able to ride the bike. I planned for the big day in advance; I would stay on the left side of the road and I would get off my bicycle if I needed to cross the road to head in the opposite direction. The first time I rode the bicycle on my street in September, I swerved a lot; I was nervous and my arms would not stop shaking. But on the big day, although I was still nervous, I swerved less. I also passed my main tests: crossing the street and riding around the Bamboo Roundabout. The bike ride was quite the workout since I haven’t been working out, and I was very sweaty when I reached school. But that was okay. I made it! It was a huge victory for me.

Me, on my pretty little mountain bike. 

This is the soft seat cover that is literally saving my behind. I 
had to get this a week later. Now, the ride to school is more comfortable
I love you Velo Extra Gel seat cover! 
Last week, I taught the 10th graders for the first time. During my first week here, I observed my co-teacher, but after that the students had two weeks of presentations on global warming, and one week and a half of midterm exams, which is why I had to wait for a long time. This was the day after I returned from my trip to Madura, and I came back riding a wave of energy, ready to teach. My first lesson went well. My co-teacher and I talked about sports played in America and the present continuous tense. We also discussed the use of can to describe ability and inability. Later, I realized that we could have taught this in a separate lesson because the students were mixing the sentence structure for present continuous tense with the sentence structure for modals. In my assessment for the lesson, I got a sentence like this: I am can playing badminton. So, I decided I would reteach can and talk about other modals in future lessons.

Kelas XD (Class 10D)

Kelas XA

Whenever I ended a lesson early, I treated the class to a game of Ninja and I reassigned seats by having the students draw numbers randomly from a hat. Now, I know the names of my troublemakers and can reassign their seats when necessary.

Kelas XB plays a game of Ninja!

I plan to use Rod Stewart’s Sailing to help teach the present continuous tense in my next lesson. I will let you know how that goes.

13 October 2012


I am still trying to figure out ways to get involved in my community on a consistent basis. I am also trying to find a yoga or karate class to join, and I would love to pick up a guitar again. In the meantime, I have been saying yes to any opportunity where I can help non-native speakers with their English.

On Saturday 22 September, I helped some students from Universitas Tanjungpura (a university in Pontianak) with a presentation on greetings. We sang songs to a crowded room of seven and eight year-old students at a pesantren. 

Some teachers at the pesantren and university students.

A photo with the girls.

A photo with the boys. 

A photo with the university students. 

Today, Saturday 13 October, I volunteered at the American Corner, located at Universitas Tanjungpura. [An American Corner is an American Space - there are about 400 worldwide (11 in Indonesia) - that is used to promote English and teach people about various aspects of American culture (holidays, sports, food, etc).] Last week, I held the semester's first Speaking Club for university students and other people in the community not affiliated with the university. My presentation from earlier today was about junior high schools in America. I compared and contrasted junior high schools in America to those in Indonesia. I also talked a little bit about my background. The students went wild when they saw pictures of attractions from New York City, and they oo-ed and aahh-ed at the beautiful scenery of upstate New York. 

After my presentation, I had a question and answer session. The children are no different from the adults and as usual, I was asked about my religion, relationship status, and where I lived. The students also asked me if I could sing and dance. I responded yes to both and, of course, had to prove it. So, I sang a song by Adele (they sang with me too!) and performed the dance from the Gangnam Style video (watch the video below if you don't already know the dance). The dance brought down the house! I enjoyed the presentation and provided them with my information on Facebook so that they could continue to practice their English with me.

The latest batch of my Facebook friends.

Kamal, Madura

This past weekend, Jordan and I took a working trip to the town of Kamal, located on the island of Madura (East Java). Kamal is very rural and crops cover most of the terrain. Once you are outside, you cannot escape the dry and intense heat.

Walking back to the guesthouse.
The guesthouses.

Madura is known for its kerapan sapi (bull races). 

Jen Kim, the English Language Fellow (ELF) in Kamal, invited us to give presentations to her Cross Cultural Understanding and Speaking (level) III classes. My first presentation was about me, my family, my life in New York City, the city's culture and attractions, life in upstate New York, my time in college in Ithaca, NY, describing the higher education system in America, and scholarships available for Indonesian students and professors to attend American colleges and universities. My second presentation was about the different cultures of Tanzania, Nicaragua, and Haiti, countries where I had worked or studied previously. I presented to about 100 students. Many of the students asked great questions about my motivation for coming to Indonesia to teach English, what differences I saw between Americans and Indonesians, the diversity of New York City, and American culture.

Jordan, me, and Jen at Universitas Trunojoyo. 

Students in Ms. Gita's accounting class.

Everyone wanted a picture with Jordan and me!

Two women pose in my photo of the perpustakaan
(library) on campus. 

A game of Ninja! to get things started.

Words/phrases used in Ninja!

Our last presentation at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school). 

In addition to the depth of Jen's experiences, I was able to provide more perspectives about other cultures of the world that she might not have had a chance to discuss in her classrooms. I learned a great deal about teaching from her as well. The experience allowed me to learn how to speak better to ESL students, deal with disruptive students, pace myself during a presentation, and manage a classroom. I am very happy that I was able to collaborate with Jen; our combined experiences created a richer learning experience for our students and us. So thank you Jen! I returned back to my site in Pontianak excited to teach with the knowledge I had gained.

Dinner at Terang Bulan (Moonlight) restaurant in Bangkalan, the town
north of Kamal and the capital of the regency in west Madura.

Lengthy layover in Jakarta equals playing pool at the Havana Lounge. 

12 October 2012

Mau ke mana, miss?

[Published on 1 October 2012]

People ask me this question all the time when I walk along my street. Mau ke mana? is the shorter version of kamu mau pergi ke mana?, which literally means you want to go where? But the question is more direct than that and when it is translated loosely it means where are you going? Mau ke mana has come to symbolize some of the lack of privacy that I have been experiencing in Indonesia. Everyone wants to know everything. The word privacy doesn’t even really exist in the language. When I searched for what privacy is in Indonesian, I got this definition: kebebasan pribadi or pribadi. And when I looked up pribadi to see if the entries matched, I got this definition: self, individual, and personality. In my community, there is no individual, no self. Anyone who sees me has the right to interact with me. Bu Jess talked to me about this when I first arrived in Pontianak. She told me that Americans and Europeans don’t like it when Indonesians ask them those types of questions. And she wondered if that would make me upset. I told her that Americans and Europeans don’t respond to that question if it is coming from a stranger or other people we don’t know very well. I also told her that I would not get upset, and that I would get used it. (Di sana, which means there, is my usual responsePeople get a kick out of that because I have told them nothing.)

Once I reach my destination, I get asked dari mana, which means, from where? or where are you coming from? And once we start to talk, people want to know more. Upon meeting an Indonesian, these are the first set of questions he or she will ask you:

Where are you from?
Where do you live?
Are you married?
Do you have children?
What is your religion?
Are you dating someone?/Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
(And if you don’t have the aforementioned) Why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Do you/would you want to date an Indonesian?
I usually tease people and give them hope on the last question, and respond with mungkin, which means maybe. People throw up their hands and laugh in response.

So, I am doing my best to get used to it, but it’s clear now that my personal bubble popped the moment I set foot in this country, and in some cases, it is an interesting challenge for me. People who enter a café, for example, walk up to me, look at the screen of my laptop, and ask me what I’m doing. If I am reading or studying Indonesian, they want to know what I am doing. If I am texting someone, they want to know who is receiving the message. Ah! Who are you? And why do you want to know?? Ultimately, I laugh and answer their questions. There is nothing else to do but laugh. Why should I be mad? This person has been raised in a society where that kind of behavior is acceptable, and I am coming from a society where if I did that to a stranger he or she would call me crazy. I think that is hilarious. So, I laugh.

Not too long ago, I was at Rayhan Coffe(e), a cool restaurant located at the end of my street, talking to a male nurse. We had just met and he asked me all of those questions. Up until that point, I had accepted those questions as just being a part of Indonesian culture. But, after being asked so many times, I wanted to know why. I answer most of their questions, but sometimes I can’t help feeling exposed because they are very personal; for 22 years, I have been socialized to get to know people differently. “Why do Indonesians ask people they just met those personal questions? The ones you just asked me” I asked him.He said that they were talking points for a conversation. “But why those questions specifically?” And before he could respond to my last question, I found myself answering it. I told him that in America, for the most part, people start with somewhat general questions and work their way inward. We build on relationships and those types of questions are answered later on. Indonesians, on the other hand, become your best friend within the first five minutes of knowing you. It’s like the mau ke mana’s and dari mana’s are ways to connect with you right then and there. That instant connection is the basis of their relationship with you. Those questions along with the talking points mediate the connection. “So these questions are what make you get closer to someone?” I asked him after I finished my thoughts. “Yes,” he responded. These are the questions that help them connect to you quickly and make them feel like they have known you for a long time. At that point, I thought of people as being the center of concentric circles. Indonesians and Americans just have different starting points; Americans start on the outside while Indonesians start on the inside. Now, this all seems obvious to me. But at that moment in the café, I had to talk aloud to figure it out. I am leaving behind the notion that the way Indonesians get to know people is different from the way Americans get to know people. It’s just the Indonesian way, and I am slowly embracing it.
My street, Jalan Paris (Paris Street)
Lunch time at Rahyan Coffe(e)

Indonesia, Singapore, and back

[Published on 24 September 2012]

I will be an English Teaching Assistant in Indonesia for the next year through the Fulbright Program. I have been in Indonesia since 12 August and recently found some time to write this post. So, please read on and enjoy!

Orientasi (orientation) –
On 12 August, I landed in Jakarta and boarded a bus to Bandung, a city in West Java located about three hours southeast of the capital. It was dark outside by the time my cohort members and I reached The Papandayan, a 5-star hotel, and my new home for a three-week long orientation. We were greeted with a lovely traditional Indonesian dance performance. After the performance, I went up to my room, which was more than I could have imagined. It had a large bed with soft sheets and pillows, a comfy sofa, a shower with glass walls, a flat screen television, and I had a cool view of the city and part of the hotel below. I did not know that they would spoil us rotten, but I was appreciative. After a year in Haiti, I was going to enjoy every moment of this experience.

During orientation, we had four hours of language class and four hours of teacher training almost every day. There were days when we had presentations on safety and security, staying healthy in Indonesia, Indonesian culture, and Indonesian politics and history. My favorite part of orientation was learning Indonesian. I practiced with the hotel staff, people on the street, and at restaurants whenever I had the chance. None of the housekeeping staff spoke English, so I spoke Indonesian frequently with them. I learned how to say, “Wait a minute” when one staff member came to collect my laundry. I used hand gestures and asked him in Indonesian, “How do you say this?” as I pointed to my hands and fingers to signal that I was asking him to wait. It’s tunggu sebentar.


I enjoyed living in Bandung. It has what some would call a Western vibe, and we had a chance to participate in its active nightlife. Bandung was once known as the Paris of Java and is a place where Jakartans can come for downtime. As I indicated before in a previous post, after returning from Haiti, the first thing I notice in a city is the cleanliness of the streets. Many of the streets in Bandung were clean and well-paved, but the sidewalks either needed to be fixed or didn’t exist. The streets were also always crowded with motorcycles. So, crossing the street caused me a lot of anxiety. The traffics lights are far apart so people just put their hands out and walk into the street as cars and motos come to a stop. I am the deer in the headlights that will freeze when I am in that situation. I remember thinking early on, “Wow, so this is how I’m going out?” But I always crossed with other people and could not help letting out a squeal when I crossed. According to some Indonesian street crossing experts, the trick is to walk across at a constant pace so the drivers can time you. I really didn’t care about the physics of it all. There should be more crosswalks!


During the second weekend, we attended a bamboo afternoon performance. The angklung was the musical instrument used throughout many of the performances. An angklung is a traditional Indonesian instrument made out of bamboo. Children begin with smaller angklungs and as they get better at playing the angklung, they move onto to the bigger ones. Toward the end of the performances, all of the audience members were given an angklung and every person played a note based on the assigned Indonesian island (each angklung was labeled) and hand gesture for that island. So, we followed the hand gestures of two young boys as they led us through songs by the Beatles. It was incredible.


Orientation quickly came to an end and we had to fly to Singapore to get our long-term visas because the Indonesian government did not provide us with them in time to start the grant. When we arrived on 12 August, we received Visas-On-Arrival which were valid for 30 days only. I was very excited to go to Singapore. I had heard great things about and was ready to experience the well-known city-state.

Singapura (Singapore) –
Singapore was very hot. After we landed, we boarded buses headed to the Albert Court Village Hotel and received a memorable introduction to the city. Our driver’s assistant told us about all the essentials we needed to know about the city: what time everything shuts down, the undercover police, the illegality of spitting or chewing gum in public, getting taxed on merchandise and reclaiming the money as a foreigner, the best places to go for shopping (Bugis Street!), etc. It was rapid firing of information. It was awesome. I got to my room, dropped off my belongings, and went to Little India with Catherine, Catharina, and Katie for dinner.

We crossed an underpass across the street from our hotel and as soon as we did, it was very obvious that we were in Little India; Bollywood music blared from speakers, Indian men crowded the streets, and the smell of food in the making teased our nostrils. We walked around for a while and explored some of the small shops on the sidewalks. We saw pretty silk scarfs, handmade shoes, and trinkets. At one shop, we asked the owner for the best place to eat in town and we ended up going to the Banana Leaf. I had mouthwatering chicken samosas, very spicy chicken curry with rice, and a creamy mango lassi to chase it all down. I was in heaven. After dinner we stopped by the Arab Quarter and had creamy Turkish milkshakes. Once we returned to the hotel, we changed into club wear and headed to Clarke Quay to enjoy Singapore’s nightlife.

The next day Morgan C., Morgan S., Amanda, and I left the hotel early so that we could see as much of Singapore as possible. We went back to Little India to buy some souvenirs and shoot some photos of the place during the daytime. Then we went to the Singapore National Museum and had an amazing audio tour of Singaporean history. We were there for about three hours, but we couldn’t even get through all of the sections by lunchtime. So, we left and went to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel for lunch. I have heard about the hotel and it is definitely a force to be reckoned with. I don’t know which section we were in, but once we got of the MRT (the metro system) we saw a small river leading into the mall and we all said, “Whoah” at the same time. It was spectacular. There were canoes on the river and a geyser located at the end. After we ate, we wanted to go see the iconic Merlion across the Singapore River. So, we took a colorful water taxi for about 4$. We actually missed our stop to walk to the Merlion, and we were treated to a wonderful tour of the entire river. We eventually got off at the correct stop and had a chance to see the Esplanade Theatres, also known as The Durians because they look like the king of fruits. I returned later that night with Catharina so that she could get a chance to see the Merlion as well.

Before Catharina and I went back to the Merlion, we had dinner at an Egyptian restaurant in the Arab Quarter. She was my neighbor during our stay at The Papandayan and we talked, but I didn’t know her too well. So, we got to know each other a little better as we sat on the floor and had dinner. I had a chicken shawarma with mango lassi (I really like mango lassi….). We got back to the hotel around midnight which was probably not the best idea because all of us received wake-up calls at 3:30am so that we would be ready to check-out of our rooms by 4am.

We had a great time in Singapore. It is definitely a city of the future and a longer stay would have been great. But after a month of living in the luxurious bubble of The Papandayan and getting spoiled in Singapore, I was ready to get to my site and start teaching.

Pontianak –
My placement is in the city of Pontianak. Pontianak, which means vampire in Malay folklore, is the capital of Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan/West Borneo). I was placed here with another ETA, Jordan. It was pouring when Jordan and I landed in Pontianak, but I love when it rains and it was a nice change from the heat wave in Singapore. I thought Haiti’s airport was a little bit unorganized, but Pontianak’s airport takes the cake. Similar to Haiti, I boarded a shuttle bus to baggage claim. When I got to baggage claim, I saw two conveyor belts and people crowded around both ends. Then, I noticed that the ends were basically dead ends and everyone’s luggage just accumulated on the floor. I couldn’t believe it. The entire thing was like a scene out of a market place. People ran to the ends and rummaged through the luggage looking for their bags. Meanwhile, I was standing in between both conveyor belts looking for my bags. I remember thinking, “This is not how you handle someone’s luggage!” My bags were the last ones to come out and under their weight and from my exhaustion due to all of this traveling and lack of sleep, I promised myself that I would get a massage within in the first week.

Our headmasters and counterparts picked us up and we went to a restaurant for dinner. I had fried rice with seafood and a whole coconut. Yes, a whole coconut. First, I drank the water first, and then I ate the meat. I was stuffed. Not sure what I was thinking, but it was delicious. After dinner, Jordan and I parted ways as we headed to our houses. My headmaster, Bu Annes, and her husband brought me bread, topped with cheese and chocolate, and then helped me move my bags into my apartment.

Some of my neighbors saw me moving in and came over to say hello. Four of them are in their late teens/early twenties and are assistant-teachers at the secondary school where I am posted. I dropped off my belongings and went to check out their apartments. After talking to them for about half an hour, I returned to my place because I was tired. I fell into my bed once I got back. A few hours into my sleep, I heard someone knocking on my door. It was Bu Jess. She said that she had been out when I arrived and wanted to introduce herself and say hello to me. She apologized for waking me up. I told her she had nothing to worry about. The only other thing I remember from our conversation that night was that she said, “Wow, you’re so tall! It must be because you’re American and I’m Indonesian.” I do tower over her though. She is either 5’3” or 5’4”. I’m pretty sure I just laughed and thanked her for stopping by. We hugged and she let me go back to sleep.

Sekolah (school) –
Every morning since I have been here, I wake up at 5am to get ready to go to school. Yes, the next morning after I arrived, I woke up at 5am to leave my apartment by 6am. I had to write that out to believe it myself. I get up at that time because I want to leave with my neighbors by six. They get a ride to school with another teacher, Herman. The school gave me a bicycle to use, but I don’t think the roads are safe enough for me to ride my bike. Indonesians are interesting drivers. I don’t think the concept of personal space exists on the road and every space is filled with a motorcycle. There are thousands of them on the roads here in Pontianak. I also saw a moto accident the other day (the student was shaken, but she was able to walk away from the accident). So, I would rather stay alive and get up at five.

The ride to school is nothing but entertaining. Every day for the last two weeks, when I get into Herman’s car a Whitney Houston track is playing. Herman is a Chinese Indonesian, is married, and he has three daughters named Hilary, Heavenny, and Honesty (yes, he came up with the names). So, his love for Whitney Houston is adorable and funny to me. The same three tracks are usually playing when I am in the car: “I have nothing, nothing, NOTHING!.... the greatest love of all….I wanna dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody!...” “Wow, you guys really love Whitney Houston, huh?” I asked Endrew, one of my neighbors. “Yeah, we do, “ he replied. Endre likes to sing as well. Herman drops us off at school. “Dance!” – Whitney sends me off as I step out of the car.

During my first week, I observed all of the English classes. I wanted to get a sense of my co-teacher’s teaching style, what language he uses the most, how he engages the students, and how the students behave. I am supposed to assistant-teach English for the 10th graders when they have class on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Friday. However, recently, I decided to help the 11th graders as well because I wanted to make better use of my Mondays. I would rather teach some of the 11th graders than none of them. I remember when I first walked into some of the 10th grade classes I heard gasps of excitement, claps, and some random student shout, “Obama!” The latter makes me laugh all the time. After my introduction, I had them do introductions, I wrote down their names and took their pictures. Overall, the 10th graders are an easygoing bunch. The 11th graders are another story.

When I walk into an 11th grade classroom, they scream like I’m Michelle Obama, start clapping, and screaming, “Miss, miss, I love you meese!” I really can’t help it and let out a small chuckle. The 11th graders speak English better than the 10th graders, so one time, after I finished introducing myself, I told them they could ask me anything they wanted to know about me. What are your hobbies? Do you have siblings? What do you think of Pontianak? Can you tell us how twins are made? – Huh?? One student wanted me to tell her how twins were formed. Luckily, I had taken enough biology classes in my lifetime to know the answer to her question. So, I drew on the board and showed the students how identical and fraternal twins were formed. On another occasion, after telling the students that I was thinking about having a gospel choir, a student asked me to sing for the class. Luckily, I had sung A House Is Not A Home enough times to sing it well and at a moment’s notice. By the looks on their faces, I think they were impressed. I hope I have a good turnout at noon on Saturday for the choir.

This past Monday, I taught my first class. I was going to observe, but then decided to help teach at the last minute. It was a lesson on the past continuous tense and I thought I could help out with some examples. It went well for an unplanned lesson. I was able to fill time by having the students write sentences about themselves so I could gauge their writing abilities. My main issues came from the students themselves. The 11th graders are active, to put it kindly. They were always talking even when I told them to be quiet and some students would just randomly talk out loud to my co-teacher or me. I found myself trying to talk over them and reaching for my water bottle because my throat started getting dry. I started talking to myself too. This was not going to work. I was not going to strain my voice everyday for the next year. I needed to come up with a way to manage them as soon as possible. I turned to my co-teacher for help, “Can you tell them to be quiet???” He and I were able to finish the lesson on time. Then, the bell rang. It was lunchtime.

I plan to split up all of the troublemakers by assigning seats, award points to the participating students, and deduct points from the disruptive students. I will let you know how my plans turn out.

I will leave you here. As you have read, you can sense that a lot is going on in my life right now. I will do my best to post something by Sunday night Jakarta time (Sunday morning for people on Eastern Standard Time). I also created a photo blog on Tumblr at http://choumikasimonis.tumblr.com. The visuals are amazing and I thought some of you might like it. I posted more photos there. If you have any questions/comments, then please let me know below in the reply section. I will be more than happy to answer them.