Posts Tagged ‘education exchange programs’

Jakarta Day 4: Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Banner at school

A banner welcoming us to MAN 4 Jakarta, a madrasah (Islamic) high school on the outskirts of the city.

After returning to the hotel, we had an hour’s break to freshen up then we boarded the bus on our way to our first school visit. This is the school of Novianti, our Jakarta consultant, who will be the host teacher for Mike and Ursula. It is called MAN 4 Jakarta (Madrasah Aliyah Negeri) and is an Islamic or madrasah school on the outskirts of Jakarta. It took us about 45 minutes of travel through local streets and expressways to get there, and the bus pulled in to a slightly muddy open field next to the school that served as a parking lot. We exited the bus, and discovered a large banner unfurled at the entrance to the school in our honor.

Nikki-Matt-Doug with Headmaster

Nikki, Matt, and Doug with the headmaster at MAN 4 Jakarta.

We were met by the headmaster (principal), who walked us through the school to a small auditorium room (but all on one level) with a low stage at the front. On the way there we passed through two inner courtyards with plants, flowers, and vegetables growing. It was quite a beautiful setting. This school (and most others we saw) is built with an inner courtyard with several levels (lantai) that have walkways rimming the central court that enter into classrooms arranged on the outside, the entire building in a U shape, or in this case, a double-U shape.


High school singing group with traditional instruments.

The headmaster said a few remarks, and Sarah presented him with a certificate. The school had chosen two students with good English (they probably had a contest to determine this) as the Masters of Ceremony, and they announced the program. A group of girls in costume danced a traditional dance, students sang songs with percussion instruments, and a boy and girl sang with guitar and electric piano. They had practiced a long time. After the program, we had a question and answer session where the students prepared questions and read them to us in English, and teachers volunteered to answer. Most of them were fairly expected, except the one about what we think of President Trump. Mariya, the Director of ILEP, gave a carefully neutral, politically correct answer to that one.

Dancers 2

A traditional dance done by the students of MAN 4 Jakarta.

While the program was going on, they fed us snacks and plastic cups covered in plastic film with water in them. After the program, the students had prepared a meal at the back of the room. It was bakso, a kind of meatball soup. The meatballs can be either beef or chicken, and they are boiled and served with broth, rice noodles, green onions, and other ingredients. Often some sambal sauce is added to give it an extra kick, but the soup is tasty enough without it. It was very good, and has become one of my favorite foods in Indonesia. When Pres. Obama visited Indonesia, he was asked what his favorite food was and he replied, “Bakso!”

David with dancers

David Black posing with the dancers after the program.

After the program we talked with the students and took photos. One student asked me questions about this blog site (elementsunearthed.com) and our STEAM it Up dye labs. The students here are certainly well prepared, if they are reading our blogs to get ready for our visit. After saying goodbye to the students, we were shown around the school and then walked back to the bus. After boarding, we drove back to the hotel. I have to say, I was very impressed with the warm welcome and student preparation for our visit. It was a fun trip, and I am looking forward even more to teaching in Kalimantan next week.

Ursula and Mike learn dancing

Ursula and Mike learn some dance steps. This was to be their host school next week.

Masters of Ceremony

Two students chosen to be the Masters of Ceremony.


Bakso soup, made from beef meatballs, spinach, noodles, green onions, etc. I added some red sambal sauce, which gave it quite a kick. Very tasty!

Casual group shot

Freestyle shot of the Teachers for Global Classrooms group with the headmaster and teachers of MAN 4 Jakarta, a madrasah high school.

MAN 4 Jakarta article

Official photo of our visit on the MAN 4 Jakarta website. The students shown here were part of a question and answer session we held as part of the program. I like that we are referred to as American gurus (their word for teacher).

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Jakarta Day 4: Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Logo for AMINEF (the AMerican INdonesian Exchange Foundation), which administers the Fulbright Scholars program, among others.

After breakfast we met in the lobby and walked to a nearby building. We provided our passports and received IDs to go through the building’s security, then took the elevators up to the 11th floor where AMINEF is located.

AMINEF stands for the AMerican INdonesian Exchange Foundation, and they are the ones that manage and provide training and in-country assistance for the Fulbright Scholars program, ILEP, scholars in residence, post-doctoral research scholars, as well as other opportunities such as a program for U.S. college students to come to Indonesia to teach English for a year called the English Teaching Assistants program.

We met in a classroom with desks, and the discussion was led by Jerry Chamberlain, the Acting Director. He said that approximately 80 scholars come to Indonesia to do research in any one year, 20 ETAs teach in schools, etc. Indonesians traveling to the States to teach Bahasa Indonesia in colleges also coordinate through AMINEF.

Le Meridien and AMINEF map

AMINEF was close to the Le Meridien Hotel. We only had to walk out to the nearby side street, along the sidewalk a short distance, then under the overpass to the Intiland tower.

Several of the ETAs and program assistants (Adeline, Shelby, Mike and Astrid) were there to answer questions about their experiences and observations of Indonesian schools. They have had a challenge getting enough U.S. student applicants to fill the need, and asked us to refer anyone we know who might be qualified. They are looking for recent college graduates with English teaching experience. Mike is here to help with the program for a second year, after teaching English in a local vocational school last year. The school was 80% boys, and he only saw each class once per week in one 90-minute class. The core subjects meet twice per week. He said it was hard to build relationships that way. Shelby taught in southwestern Sulawesi.

They provided some insight into what we could expect as we went to our host schools. Teachers have a central room for preparation, but not much gets done as it is more for socializing (sounds like most teacher lounges I’ve seen). Group and hands-on projects are rare, and the most usual method of teaching is lecture and note taking.

They said the most frustrating things about teaching in Indonesia were the frequent holidays that we don’t have the cultural background to anticipate (they celebrate the holidays of all the major religions here) and that teachers sometimes don’t show up for classes for various reasons. Students are expected to work quietly until the teacher arrives. Sometimes school is cancelled for local celebrations which aren’t on the calendar, so we need to be flexible.

Some of the good points of teaching in Indonesia are that students give instant respect to teachers, and that teaching is an honored profession here. Students are always prepared with notebooks and pens/pencils. Although there are religious differences and divisions, most people work for coexistence and there isn’t much in the way of ethnic strife.

AMINEF lobby

The lobby and front desk of AMINEF in Jakarta.

Mariya concluded our discussion by describing more the history of TGC and its growth. They have only moved to accepting elementary teachers in the last two years. All of these programs are ran under the U.S. State Department through third party organizations such as IREX or AMINEF, and are dependent on national priorities. TGC is one of the few programs that focuses on secondary education and building experience and capacity for global competency in U.S. teachers.

They fed us a boxed lunch of ayam goreng (fried chicken) while we talked with the students. We took group photos in the AMINEF lobby, then said our thank-yous and took the elevator back down to the lobby. We got our passports back and walked back to our hotel.

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