This past weekend was the Fulbright Commission's national creative English competition (WORDS). All of the ETAs traveled to Jakarta with their students. We stayed at the ridiculously grand Gran Meliá hotel in Kuningan, located in south Jakarta.
This is one of two hotel lobbies.
My awesome room at the Gran Meliá. It was quite the upgrade from my current
living quarters, and I was so grateful to sleep here for the weekend.
The lovely pool in the back.
Water fountains located behind the spa.
On Friday night, we had a welcome dinner. A few ETAs, my student, and I sat at a table with the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Scot Marciel. We talked about our roles as ETAs in Indonesia, his job with the Department of State, and his work prior to working in Indonesia. We also had a chance to talk to Mr. Don Washington, the charge d'affaires when the Ambassador is out of town.
Ambassador Scot Marciel and his wife, to my right, and my student, Septrani, to my left.
Catharina and Wojtek, two other Fulbrighters.
Later in the evening, I engaged in Jakarta's nightlife with some friends.
The competition was held the next day, Saturday 16 March. Since there were about 50 students, the performances were split into two groups, A and B. Group A went in the morning, while group B engaged in activities. Then, we had lunch. After lunch, group A engaged in activities, while group B performed.
Septrani and I stand in front of the WORDS banner.
The students wait for the opening remarks to start the competition.
I was an activity leader for group B. First, Ben, another ETA, led the group through some fun stretches. After that, we had introductions, and our main activity. The main activity was titled Find Someone Who…. The students had to match statements written on a piece of paper with the ETA who wrote one of the statements. Some of the statements were I can speak Portuguese, I went to high school in Singapore, and I am afraid of stairs. The students had a great time walking around and talking to the ETAs.
We formed a large circle to complete our stretching exercises and introductions.
Students and teachers mingle to Find Someone Who….
The other activity leaders for group B - Ben, Leah, and Jocelyn.
I snapped this photo as I waited for these students to ask me a question.
One student from Banda Aceh asks me a question. (Photo cred: Dustin Volz)
Lunch time. You can see the gorgeous traditional clothes one student wore.
The prompt for the competition was What can the youth of Indonesia teach the world? The performances were incredible. The students talked about topics ranging from Indonesia's problem with the disposal of trash to pre-marital sex. Many of them sang, performed traditional dances, and had short dialogues. It was a wonderful moment to see all of the hard work from the ETAs, who put the local competitions together, and from the students, who had worked on their performances, culminate in an amazing show.
(Photo cred for this photo and the next 5 photos belong to Dustin Volz. Thank you Dustin! :)
Septrani's performance - "The Food Connection." She talked about how Indonesian's are passionate about food and performed a cooking demo. She made gado gado and gave some of it to the judges. I had some of her gado gado during my local competition and it was enak sekali (very delicious).
I was so focused on the performances!
The overall winner, Ms. Nabila from Samarinda, in East Borneo.
Her performance was titled, "Voices of the Children."
Group photo of all of the participants.
After the competition, the ETAs took their students out for dinner, and then bowling. Septrani and I had delicious Indian food before we went to the bowling alley. It was her first time bowling, so I showed her how to hold and release the bowling ball. The students took the bowling seriously! But overall, they had so much fun. We were there for about two hours.
On Sunday, the students went on a tour of Jakarta - they went to the Sea Marina in Ancol, Fatahillah Square in Kota, and to see the tower of Monas. While they did this, the ETAs were at the Fulbright Commission headquarters to talk about details concerning our trips home and the future of the program. Later in the day, we were reunited with our students.
Septrani really wanted to go shopping. So, the other ETAs and I took our students to the nearby Ambassador Mall. She was so sweet and bought a beautiful necklace for me. I bought One Direction's latest CD for her as a way to say thank you. She loves music from One Direction.
Dinner with my fellow Fellows.
The weekend came to an end quickly. The quality time I had getting to know Septrani and some of the other students from all over Indonesia was invaluable. The main purpose of the weekend was to have the students immersed in English as much as possible. I think we exceeded this expectation. Usually, when the students at my school are with each other they speak in Indonesian, but during the weekend in Jakarta, most of the students spoke to one another in English. I was happy to see how comfortable and brave they were to maintain conversations, at almost all times, in English. Some of the hotel staff thought some of them were English teachers! And at the mall, the workers in the stores spoke to the students in English, not knowing they were Indonesians. The students enjoyed the English speaking experience, thoroughly, and I am sure it boosted their confidence.
The students also became very good friends with one another. And without fail, as is the case in Indonesia, they have already exchanged Facebook, Twitter, and BBM contact information so that they can keep in touch. It truly was a pleasure to see and be a part of their experiences.