School has begun! Not to be confused with “my teaching has begun”…actually I am on vacation once again with four days off due to the beginning of Ramadan. For those of you who are not familiar with Ramadan, it is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar – the month of fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in order to increase piety and cut their selves off from worldly comfort, becoming constantly aware of God. Society’s time schedule tends to shift throughout the month as people get up early (like 3am early) and stay up late, sleeping more during the day so they might go about their usual activities during the night when fasting doesn’t pose such a hindrance. Lucky for me, I live in the Tengger with a Hindu family, so while I still reap the benefits of Ramadan vacation days, I enjoy them while consuming as much rice and tea as I please.
But back to school…before I jump into the weeks activities, let me first give you a short photo introduction of the facility. Last week, we moved out of the SMP and into our new SMA, a beautiful little school on a hill about 3km from my house. As you’ll see from the pictures, the school itself is still under construction.
Although I have not yet begun teaching, school is certainly in session. Throughout the first week a number of orientation activities took place – quite similar to what one might have experienced during their own high school freshman orientation in the U.S. (with the added fun of silly outfits and military style salutes).
The week started off with an introduction by Pak Sugeng, the senior teacher at the SMA, and was continued the next day by Pak Nur, the principal. Throughout the first three days, teachers held hour long presentations from time to time regarding academics, expectations, and extracurricular activities. The remainder, and majority, of time was run by the older students (mostly 11th graders), guiding the newcomers in a variety of games and activities.
The new students weren’t the only ones who got to play dress up these past couple weeks. On Tuesday, a couple teachers, about 20 students, and I hopped in the back of a pickup truck and took a ride down to Pasuruan to participate in some sort of march/parade/walk representing our village.
Groups from schools all around the area gathered in Pasuruan dressed in traditional garb to demonstrate their village’s pride – it need not be said that I was the only buleh in company. This being my first time off the mountain, I was quickly reminded of the reality of Indonesia’s heat – the heavy black I was garbed in not making it any cooler.
I can’t really say how far the walk was; maybe it lasted an hour and a half. It was slow and sweaty, but really a fun experience hanging out with my students and seeing all of the other schools’ dress.