At the request of about fifteen students via a text message sent to Pak Agus, I held the first English Club meeting at school, on Saturday. Eight students attended, which is great since it’s their summer break! I combined a couple of Truong’s ideas with an icebreaking activity from the PC working with youth book to create a pretty entertaining hour’s worth of mid-morning English language excitement (teaching tip for new teachers, from a new teacher: steal stuff that works, try it out, change it to fit your style and the needs of your students, and pass it on). I taught them how to talk about what they did last night (thanks Truong for the topic, which was perfect since I’ve already gone through introductory stuff with them) and we played a game involving a ball of yarn (!!), everybody having the “what did you do last night?” conversation with at least two people, and the creation of a giant spider-web that had to be undone in such a way that one person had to tell the group what someone else did the night before. Pretty swell. Then we did some vocabulary board races that ended up being extra great because the kids were loud and rambunctious enough to draw the attention and eventually the participation of a few teachers. The kids were stoked and I invited them over tomorrow afternoon for 4th of July watermelon and Oreos (thanks, Diana). I think I might teach them three-legged racing and the balance-an-egg-on-a-spoon-and-run game. If I can get my hands on a couple empty beras bags we can have an Indonesian version of a potato-sack race. O, Americana!
In other happy news, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the PC Indonesia cookbook, of which I have been in charge since I volunteered for the honor in Jakarta (remember Jakarta?). I love that stuff. Reminded me of the good ol’ days sitting at the desk in the kitchen typing recipes until I had to frost someone’s name on a birthday cake or steal a nut croquette from Al (has it already been five months?). I’ve finished typing up all of the recipes from folks in the PST communities; I was excited to be able to translate almost everything without using a dictionary. If there’s one thing I can talk about in bahasa Indonesia, it’s food. We’ve got some great recipes so far and I can’t wait to see what the final product ends up looking like…including the artwork, layout, etc.
Current Indonesian pop is starting to grow on me in a terrible, terrible way, but I’m not ashamed. More surprised, if anything. I’m developing the same sort of lukewarm yet bizarrely resolute affections for it as I have for certain contemporary American pop musicians…probably because they’re a lot like siblings, one looking up to the other in lots of ways, for better or for worse. It’s baffling how influential contemporary American (pop) culture is on the world…I wish I had a way to find out about the history of Indonesian pop music in the last fifty years or so (I also wish I had a way to find out about other Indonesian music other than pop/karaoke tunes and totally traditional gamelan orchestras. I know there’s some far-out funk around and I’ve also heard a few folksy acoustic guitar tunes, but I only heard those because they were on the Laksar Pelangi soundtrack. Maybe that will be my starting point…but I haven’t seen any music for sale other than karaoke DVDs and top 40s, so.).
Anyways, I’m off to bed. Finally put up my mosquito net* and decided to go a day without coffee in hopes of having the best night’s sleep since arriving in my new place. Here’s to it!
PS: Happy birthday Mr. Al! Never forget your father’s words of wisdom regarding the significance of this new era in your life. Console yourself by the fact that your wife is only getting younger as the years go by.
*My mosquito net has been up since I arrived. It was my number one priority upon arriving at site. Right, guys? Okay, okay. I’m a dunce. Sorry, Lyn. If I have malaria, I promise I won’t call you and make you drive all the way from the office to stab my finger; I’ll just get Erika to do it. If I have The Dengue, well…haven’t we all been doomed from the start? Anyways, I think I signed something that says I’m entitled to at least one paid near-death experience before this two years is up.
Dear everyone in the US: I’m sorry, but the post office in Magetan tried to charge me $13 to send one letter to the States. I had a stack of them to send and figured mailing them off wouldn’t be an issue because I could send one letter from the post office in Malang for a little over a dollar. Lots of you have been written letters. Stand by.