Day two at the Junior High school started off in the teacher’s workroom again. “Selemat Pagi” was greeted to all the welcoming teachers who made an effort to shake my hand. The air was much less humid, with a nice cool breeze filling the surroundings. Unlike the ridged structure of American school system schedule’s, it appears that Indonesian education is much more relaxed. No one appears to be in a rush to get to their class, assuming students know what they are doing. Expecting to follow the day’s agenda by observing a class, I was caught off guard when Rudhi asked me to present the same lesson as yesterday on Michigan. Scrambling for the correct technology and resources, I was now dealing with students who were much older than what I was used to, 9th graders. Very animated considering the early hour, they were relieved when I said they can speak in Bahasa and Rudhi will translate. Thankfully I was able to get my computer to work and show two videos I had prepared. There was no hookup to present it on the board, so students had to watch a 13” MacBook 💻. Surprisingly the results seemed to get by with little issue for the students sitting in the back. He first video was the typical day in the life of a middle school student and the second video was my year in review with my kids. The usual “oohs” and “ahhs” occurred when they saw how student switch classes, the cafeteria, and the sports they play. Feeling the heat in the class, I noticed that no student seemed to notice the sweltering temperature. When I asked Rudhi for the duration of the lesson he wanted presented, it was much longer than I had planned or prepared, an hour and a half! After having the students write questions down, Rudhi served as translator for my answers. The accompaniment of the computer’s visual aid was a huge help since it gave students a tangible image to make a connection. With little participation no matter the topic or the prompts, it was atypical to say the least regarding student teacher interactions. With the apparent one sided conversation, the students seemed engaged when there were comparisons between my students and them. Finishing off with a picture tour of America and its animals which I’ve photographed, I passed out Van Hoosen pencils to the students at the end of the lesson. Afterwards, their was a long wait time in the teacher’s lounge. We were waiting for a long time while many teachers socialized. A large difference that I felt with American schools is the sense of time. Teachers in America have a structured schedule while it appears there is no rush for people to head to their classes. Assuming something was eventually going to happen, I ended up being surprised when Rudhi approached at noon and said we can go back to the hotel, to start our activity. Originally we had planned to visit some museums because he wanted us to go with some people from work. They couldn’t make it because they were caught up still teaching, so we switched our day’s plans to visit the Cipendok Waterfall in Purwokerto. Any chance to go on a hike was welcome, but I would have much preferred doing this on my birthday the following day. After an hour to rest at the hotel, we met back up to go to the waterfall. The drive was the usual 40 minutes to get only a short distance across town. Mount Slamet once again stalked us as we drove through the countryside. Making our way to the waterfalls entry way, we parked amid the vast tropical dense rainforest. Hiking about a mile to the waterfall, it reminded me of the vegetation native to Hawaii (which is a good thing!). Laying my eyes on the waterfall once we reached the highest peak of the hike, this too was similar to Haleakala National Park in Maui’s, Waimoku Falls. Reaching a staggering 300 feet tall, the waterfall was nearly impossible to capture with a camera. Powering through the dense tropical forest and showering down below, I desperately wanted to go for a shower, but knew that wouldn’t be the best idea as we were going to head back in the car in about 30 minutes. Taking in the sights for a good half hour, watching eagles soaring above, it was refreshing to be so close to nature, this far away from home.
About Matthew Cottone
Experience the World! This is my creed I bring to my classroom and my life. I'm a World Studies teacher at Van Hoosen Middle School and I have a passion for learning and experiencing the world.