Hello and happy new year!
Updating my blog took a back seat in my life for the last month and a half. This happens from time to time. But now, I am back. So, yay!
Looking forward, December seemed like the month that would never end. But it passed by quickly. I stayed at my site for most of the month, and decided that I needed to find a way to be productive with all of my free time. I called my staycation a Period of Personal and Professional Development (PPPD). I started off my PPPD by joining a yoga class. I pay about $1.50 for a one hour session (there are four classes per week). Amazing, huh? The instructor, Andri, is a stocky man who is always in a great mood. He changes his hair color from time to time and wears it in the form of a mohawk. He is definitely the right person for the job. In the beginning, I worked up quite a sweat because I had not done yoga in a while. But as I attended more classes, I went into the poses with more ease. I eat way too much fried rice and noodles. So, I also started doing more abdominal and leg workouts in my house.
Some other things I did during my PPPD:
- I started an online class through Coursera, Think Again: How to Reason and Argue
- I studied Indonesian regularly
- I started reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
- And I went to school everyday to be with my other co-workers.
On 14 December, Anna, the ELF at my site, had a karaoke competition for her university students. She asked me to be a judge for the competition. The performances were incredible. Many of the students sang top hits and classics from Adele, Whitney, Mariah, and the like. On 17 and 21 December, my school held concerts for Christmas. The concerts were great and had me feeling a bit nostalgic. It was my first Christmas away from my family. Fortunately, Indonesians have an amazing way of making you feel right at home.
My headmistress, Bu Agnes, invited me to her house for Christmas. I accepted the invitation as I saw that being at her house would be better than waking up to my empty house on Christmas day. My stay with her and her family is probably the highlight of my grant, thus far. Indonesian moms are funny because they always want to know the same two things: Have you eaten yet? and Have you showered yet? These things are important! Bu Agnes is such a caring person and a great cook. I ate to my heart's desire. But she was set on making my stomach pop. She makes these delicious layered cakes (kue lapis) and is well aware that I am a fan of them. So, every 15 minutes or so, she would offer them to me. And after having my fair share, all I could do was laugh and say, "I'm sorry bu, but I'm full and I can't eat any more." All throughout Christmas day, she entertained teachers from the school, their families, and her friends. At night, her husband and I went to a party at the governor's house. He mentioned it to me earlier in the day and, of course, I said I would go. How many times do you get to go to any governor's house for a party on Christmas day?? The place was filled to capacity. Photographers were all over the place documenting the event and everyone wanted to shake my hand. He and I had some fruit juice drinks, chatted with his friends, enjoyed some singing performances, and then we left about half an hour later.
On 26 December, we dropped the remaining food from Christmas day dinner off at an orphanage. Bu Agnes makes this trip annually. After visiting the orphanage, we went back to her house to welcome more guests, and then she dropped me off at my house. I had to pack my bags for a long-awaited vacation to Yogyakarta.
I'll get to that epic vacation in the next post. But for now, enjoy the pictures below from my staycation.
The rainy season shows West Borneo no mercy.
Bu Yanti becomes a barber. This happens from time to time
when a student comes to school with hair that is inappropriately long.
Setting up the Christmas tree for the holidays.
We had a day of sports for the teachers and their family members
on 15 December. All the women wore dresses or aprons and all
of the men wore sarongs. The men played basketball while the women
The team from SMA Kristen Immanuel. We played against
all the other schools in our unit (primary, elementary, and junior high school).
The members of the foundation that funds the school
participated in the festivities as well!
Pak (Mr.) Herman, consumed by his sarong.
Christmas concert at the school aula (hall).
Group photo after the concert.
Catherine, another ETA located in Medan (Sumatra Island),
came to collaborate with Anna. She was able to stop by my
school and hang out with me as well.
Bu Yanti always throws up the peace sign. It's only right that I join her.
My friends from the nearby laundromat. Sometimes I
will stop by to dance and sing with them.
Jordan and I collaborated and screened the movie Invictus
for our Muslim and Christian students.
Some students discussing the theme of reconciliation from Invictus.
Since Catherine was in town, it was a great opportunity
to visit the Equator Monument (Pontianak city lies on the equator).
Some of my students came along for the visit.
After visiting the Equator Monument, we went to my yoga class, and then
we had dinner on a boat on the Kapuas River (the longest river in Borneo
and in Indonesia). We met Sofia, a member of my yoga class, and she decided
to give us a ride to the restaurant. She also paid for our meals and paid for the boat to
take a tour of the river. It was amazing! We were so lucky that she decided to help us.
The students had three days of class games before going
on break for the holiday session.
Student report cards. So fancy!
The boys and girls from Kelas 10 and Kelas 11 played
competitive games of futsal (football). They kept the crowd
entertained throughout the tournament.
Some "spectators" playing chess on the sidelines.
Sofia, my friend from my yoga class, invited me to lunch.
Sofia (on my right), her two friends (on her right), and her
daughter, Gwen Stefani. Sofia loves the artist Gwen Stefani so much
that, you guessed it, she named her daughter after her.
A man selling bananas on his boat.
This picture is the highlight of my grant and my staycation.
It was my first hot Christmas and it was a wonderful one. I thank
Bu Agnes for inviting me into her home and treating me as one of her own.
This is the pet of Bu Agnes' youngest child, Calvin. They
bought the duck when it was a duckling for 5000Rp. (50 cents).
The duck wanders in and out of the house from time to time.
I thought it was a hilarious sighting and that's why this picture is here.
My co-teacher (far right) and his wife stopped by
Bu Agnes' house to eat and chat.
As I wrote the captions for the photos, I remembered how happy I was about my decision to stay at my site for the holidays. I am glad that I got to know my headmistress, as well as my co-teacher, better. I found out that she is a very adventurous woman. During one night of my stay at her house, she showed me pictures of her trips to Bali and the Philippines, as well as her white water rafting adventure in Jakarta. My stayction allowed me to feel more comfortable and at home at my site in Indonesia.