The fifth week of PST was centered around attaining experience teaching at an Indonesian school. Each trainee was paired with another trainee to teach in a school around Kediri. Some schools received up to five pairs of trainees. My partner, Sonam, and I were placed at SMP 4 along with Hilary and Abby.
The weekends during PST are filled with many different activities and events that our host families have arranged or plan on us attending. My training group has been very fortunate to arrive in Kediri in the middle of wedding season. There have probably been a dozen or so trainees that have attended a wedding so far.
I have yet to go to a wedding but I hear they are quite the spectacle. The one unique cultural event I was able to attend, however, was a circumcision… party… celebration. A sunatan.
Before coming to Indonesia one of the things that I ofttimes thought about, and not in a particularly nervous or anxious way, was the squatty potty. The kamar kecil (small room). The porcelain hole in the ground.
Something that I have alluded to in my previous post is the obsession it seems all Indonesians have with foreigners, especially white foreigners. A constant fascination with the “bule” seems to be a cultural cornerstone.
Explaining the experience of being an absolute foreigner is very difficult. In America anyone of any ethnicity can walk down nearly any street in any town and draw minimal to no attention. That’s not to say that race is not an issue in America, but that most people don’t see it as novel, strange, or unique to have an uncommon skin tone.
Sunday the tenth of April was our first real day off after arriving in Indonesia. The first day without anything scheduled for us to do. Nonetheless I still woke up before five o’clock in the morning. My host family wanted to show me around Kediri so we left walked to the main road around seven-thirty to catch a bus to Dhoho street. On Sundays Dhoho street is closed down to cars so and turns into a market. The street was very crowded with Indonesians and me being the only bule (fair skinned person) in the area was quite a novelty. Being stopped to take pictures with the more daring Indonesians was very common. In fact, one young Indonesian girl even interviewed me for a class assignment of sorts.
We arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia Tuesday morning on the 29th of March and hit the ground running. Even though we had traveled for about 45 hours we had a full day scheduled with various sessions on Peace Corps policy and information; most of which I do not remember.
After one day in Surabaya we left for Kediri. We stayed at a hotel by the name of Bukit Daun for three nights. While at Bukit Daun we had 16 hours of language classes and two bahasa Indonesia assessment tests to place us in groups of five to seven for our language classes over the next two months.
The last two posts have been snorefests. So it’s time to pull out some good content.
I moved in with my pre service training host family on a Saturday. I had only had two days of language classes. My language skills were pretty much limited to telling someone my name, saying where I’m from, and saying where I live. I could also point to a couple of objects and identify them in Indonesian. Oh, and numbers. I could count to like a billion. But that wasn’t very useful.