Apr 30, 2013

Coban Rondo

*Throwback post to PST in Batu, June 2012*

One of my clustermate’s families took us on an outing to a local “tourist object” (for some reason, Indonesians are taught that a tourist destination is a “tourist object” in English).  This particular object was a waterfall called Coban Rondo. 

I dressed for a fairly rigorous hike, as we were told to prepare to be tired.  What I didn’t yet understand at the time was that Indonesians never walk if they can help it.  So, a 45 minute walk up a mild incline, say, a 3-5% grade, is the equivalent of an ascent to Yosemite’s Half Dome.  In any event, we were greeted by enchanting animal statues by the entrance, and the walk to the falls was pleasant.  We saw some coffee plantations on the way.  The waterfall was duly resplendent.

When we tried to find a place to picnic, the local monkey gang wanted in.  I’m happy to report our group remained monkey bite free.

On the way back, we walked by this random elephant.  He was hanging out all by his lonesome.  No real fence, no handler in sight.  Suddenly, music started playing on some speakers somewhere, and then the elephant started dancing!  What I mean is, swaying his head, trunk and body from side to side.  It was the most adorable and sad thing I’ve ever seen.  I fell in love with him and wanted to rescue him from there.  I had a really difficult time leaving him.  I really really didn’t want to.  But I just couldn't fit him into my backpack, alas.


*Throwback post to PST in Batu, May 2012*

During PST, we took a group outing to take in a local soccer game.  “Arema” is the team’s name, which is a combination “arek” and “Malang,” which means “the kids of Malang.”  Arema is apparently a really crappy team ordinarily, though loyalty is nonetheless fierce.  We happened to go on a good day, and they won!  The fans were over the moon, and it was great to get swept up in the excitement.  Mostly, I enjoyed the giant plush toy lions on the field.

Hari Kartini

*Throwback post to PST in Batu, April 2012*

Hari Kartini (Kartini Day) is celebrated every April.  Raden Ayu Kartini is a national hero.  She came of age in the Dutch colonial era, a daughter of a wealthy Javanese Regent.  She was highly educated and fluent in Dutch, which was unusual for Indonesians then.  She is a national hero, because she was a women’s rights warrior. 

This year, Hari Kartini followed National Testing Week, so there were no festivities at my school.  These are some photos from Hari Kartini during Pre-Service Training (PST)  last year.  We happened to be on our way to somewhere when we passed by the town square and were hit in the face with this ridiculous cuteness:

Hari Kartini 2012 fell during our practicum at the middle school, so we were able to take in their festivities.  After the requisite pomp and circumstance, I was handed the school camera and became papparazza for a few hours, right at the edge of the runway where the kids WERRKED it.  By the way and for the record: Nobody does Power Clashing like the Javanese.

Mar 6, 2013


Yeah so it's been a minute, and y'all don't want to hear me blame lack of internet again, so here are some photos of what can happen at my school.

Lots of banners happen at my school.  A new one pops up in unexpected corners, like mold on your favorite t-shirt, pair of jelly shoes, or shoulder bag.  This one has been up for a while and greets you in the court yard:

We recently completed our gym.  The Bupati (boo-PAH-tee) aka the Regent of Ponorogo speechified at the grand-opening and cut a ribbon.  It caused quite a stir when he came off the stage and sort of approached me but not really. It was rather awkward -- I couldn't read his body language (Are you coming over or are you not?  Am I supposed to stand up and walk over to you or not?).  I sort of got up and sort of ambled over, but not really, and he sort of walked over to me, but not really, so for a goodly while we were suspended in this long, awkward "are you coming or going" moment.  The photographers and his security guards were similarly confused.  I broke the spell by just sticking out my hand to him in greeting.  This historic handshake birthed and cemented the myth that the Bupati and I are Besties Forever.  Students then provided Reog-tertainment while we ate.  There were snack boxes AND a complete lunch buffet, YEAH!

Soon thereafter, we hosted a Tae Kwon Do belt testing event for all the Tae Kwon Do extracurricular clubs in and around Ponorogo.  I was really really happy to see a lot of girls take part.


I shed a little tear, remembering my days as a Red Belt in high school, training three times a week at Mt. Kim Dojo.  And now I'm in Indonesia as a Peace Corps Volunteer, staring 12 months in-country in the eye.  Bonkers.

But my favorite activity recently was coaching kids for a debate competition in the big city of Madiun.  We only had two days to train, and none of the kids had ever done debate before, never mind debate under the Australian competition rules and entirely in English!  I was so, so proud of them: They all worked like crazy during those two days, the team spirit was incredible, and one of our teams survived the preliminary elimination rounds to qualify for the quarterfinals the next day.

Out of fifteen schools, we definitely had the loudest yell: 1-2-3, MAN DUA!