On the eighth, and end of the seventh, week of pre service training we taught at a middle school for eight days. We returned to the same middle school we taught at for our first week of practicum on Friday May 13th and worked at the school until Saturday May 21st on all days except the 15th. I still taught with my teaching partner from the first week of practicum, Sonam, and we continued working with our counterpart from the first week.
On our busiest day Sonam and I had to teach three lessons in immediate succession. We taught a total of five different classes as many as four times each so we created four distinct lesson plans to work with over the course of practicum. Our lesson themes were descriptions, conjunctions, chores, and family.For better or worse, our teaching counterpart, would be retiring in ten months and was not very invested in teaching with Sonam and me. He had also already worked through the entirety of the state provided bahasa Inggris (English language) textbook. This allowed us the freedom to teach whatever we wanted, but made it difficult to try and build off of what our students had been learning earlier in the year. We taught students who, for the most part, only had one year of English class, so ensuring that our lessons were on a level the students could understand was important. The involvement we had from our counterpart was minimal, as most of the classes Sonam and I taught were without his assistance. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is often the norm for Indonesian teachers.
The schedule during teaching practicum was more demanding than the already crowded schedule for a typical week of PST. Each morning, the trainees from Manisrenggo would meet at 6:00 to take an angkot to our respective practicum schools. Peace Corps wanted us to be at the school at 6:30 each day. I don’t like being rushed in the morning so I usually got up a little after four o’clock. This gave me plenty of time to mandi, get dressed, eat breakfast with my bapak, gather my things, maybe call my parents, and get to the angkot without ever feeling hurried.Waking up early is not difficult for me and I was aided by a side effect of the antimalarial medication I have to take. Mefloquine can cause restlessness and I usually would wake up well before my 4:24 alarm. [As I write this it is 3:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep.] Unfortunately, on my last day of practicum I was able to sleep soundly and woke up with only 20 minutes to get to the angkot. No time to mandi, no time to eat. My abstention from mandi-ing and eating breakfast was quite a conversation at dinner that evening.
After practicum we had one hour off for lunch. I always chose to eat at home as it was the most economical and quickest option. At one o’clock we started bahasa Indonesia class and would be in class until five that evening. During the first four weeks of PST we attended language class in the morning; so having this sedentary task in the afternoon, after we spent all morning teaching, set the stage for a significant struggle between staying awake and falling asleep. Our language facilitators were always very understanding and made sure we had plenty of breaks.
After language class we were finally “free,” though freedom here really just means no PST events planned. For some reason, the week of practicum was a particularly popular week for hosting tahlilans. Tahlilan is an evening prayer gathering for men in the village. I went to six during the second week of practicum. After dinner, writing, mandi malam, and maybe tahlilan, I typically got to bed a little before nine at night.
The busiest week of PST, but also the one that I thought was the most fun. A little stressful, sure, but also very educational and exciting. I didn’t have much time for things not related to PST, but that’s not what PST is about. I was efficient with my time and practical with my goals. Two things I believe Peace Corps volunteers are supposed to know in order to succeed.