This week my students are enjoying a chance to interact with and learn from Ibu Mia, an Indonesian high school English teacher from Batam, Kepulauan Riau. She will be in our area for 3 weeks, spending a week at each of our schools. Her visit has been entirely coordinated by Pak Nyoman from APBIPA and we are so, so fortunate to able to particiapte in this program. Through APBIPA, we have hosted teachers from Sumbawa, Bali, Sumatra, Jakarta, Kalimantan, Bandung and now Batam. What a fantastic way for my students to experience the diversity of Indonesia.
We learned many interesting facts about Batam. Some of which are:
- Even though it is a tiny island, the population is roughly similar to Adelaide; 1 million.
- It is only 35 minutes from Singapore by ferry and Ibu Mia has often taken her sons to Singapore for a day trip!
- There are 1500 students and 90 teachers at her school, SMK 1 Batam.
- Batam was only founded in the 70’s and then developed in the 80’s as a centre for free trade.
- Batam has a good selection of high class hotels, one of which is a restored cruise ship!
- There are 7 domestic harbors and 2 international harbors in Batam.
- Batam has beautiful beaches.
- Batam has a huge industrial sector.
- Ibu Mia lives in Batam Centre.
- There is a ‘Welcome to Batam” sign which is exactly like the Hollywood sign in California.
- Batam’s skyline resembles any develped city’s skyline. Multi-story buildings and freeways.
This visit has been so enjoyable for me for a variety of reasons. Usually I teach as per usual and my visitor co-teaches i.e., assists with modeling pronunciation, extra facts etc. However this time, the focus of the lessons this week has been Ibu Mia, thus being a cultural brain break for all of us. While lessons largely reverted back to the 90% English/10% Indonesian ratio, it was so interesting and informative that it wasn’t an issue and we still managed to where possible incorporate the target structures for this term and students enjoyed plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their growing ability to speak in Indonesian with many classestotally impressing Ibu Mia! So exciting!! I couldn’t help pointing out to the older classes, that the level of communication we used with Ibu Mia was far above that which we have used with any previous visitor.
Our recent acquisition of pakai was very useful and we enjoyed the opportunity for many repetitions with all the classes due to discussions about why students thought Ibu Mia was Indonesian (as opposed to be being Korean, American, Spanish etc). They all said that had they seen her in the street, they would guess she was Indonesian because of the clothes she was wearing which led beautifully back to our circling:
- Ibu Mia pakai topi? bukan
- Ibu Mia pakai jaket? bukan
- Ibu Mia pakai sepatu? ya
- Ibu Mia pakai apa?
This then led to a discussion about her clothing. Students learned the word for her Muslim dress (gamis) and her head scarf (jilbab). I have a selection of jilbabs from Kalimantan, so we dragged them out which led to many questions from students about jilbabs. The questions were hysterical and I wish I could have recorded them all. It was so hard keeping a straight face! Questions included:
- How do you put on a jilbab?
- Do you sleep in your jilbab?
- How do you get your hair cut if you can’t take it off in public?
- What is that thing under your jilbab? (ciput)
- What happens if someone comes to your door that is not family and you are not wearing your jilbab?
The most amazing thing about all the questions was that they were all respectful! Not one student made a negative comments about any aspect of Islam. I am so proud of my students. Ibu Mia was so relieved. She showed me an article from her local paper for which the headline which roughly means: Ibu Mia is a ittle bit worried about visiting Australia On The Heels of The Bali NIne Executions.
Her friends all warned her that Australians would harrass her because of the executions and that it was a terrible time to visit Australia. Many also suggested she reconsider wearing a jilbab in Australia or at least wear a smaller one. Thankfully she did not listen to their advice!! At our school and in our local community she experienced exactly what I experienced while traveling in Indonesia amidst the telephone spying scandal: most of the hullaballoo is political and hyped up by the media. The general public are largely cynical consequently and thus when a visiting national from that country is polite and personable (as Ibu Ma definitely is), it dissolves any animosity one may have for their nation and is brilliant for breaking down the stereotypes that events such as these perpetuate.
The classes that have 2 lessons a week, were treated to a cooking demonstration for their second lesson. Ibu Mia, not only loves cooking but she is an awesome cook. We brainstormed one evening after school for recipes that are quick, easy and will surely be popular with students. Ibu Mia suggested her own recipe of Mie Goreng Telur A La Ibu Mia which is a popular snack she makes for her sons when they are hungry. We found all the ingredients at our local grocery shop and she was especially delighted that we could buy the extra spicy chilli sauce made by ABC!! Needless to say the small noodle pancakes were a huge success. Students could choose to have theirs with saus tomat, sambal atau tidak pakai saus. The entire cooking lesson was a double bonus because where possible Ibu Mia used the target structures that students have learned this year. It was awesome that Ibu Mia understood the power of TPRS/TCI so quickly. Her circling required that all students to listen, look & respond! It was so cool. Her language to the students included:
- Kasih Ibi Mia gunting
- Siapa mau menjadi assistan Ibu Mia?
- Apa ini?
- Kasih Ibu Mia telur. Apa telur? Ya, telur egg!! Jade, kasih Ibu Mia dua telur. Berapa telur?
- Berapa murid di kelas ini?
- Ayo, Menghitung! They would then count with her while she tricked them by going fast sometimes and slow sometimes.
- Garamnya (apa garam? Ya, garam salt) Garamnya terlalu besar, terlalu kecil atau pas?
- Siapa mau makan mie goreng telur pakai saus?
Terima kasih IIbu Mia. PEPS will miss you!