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Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning’

Jakarta Day 9: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

 

Presentation to Novianti and Dewi

Sarah presents Novianti and Dewi with awards for their service as our in-country consultants for the Teachers for Global Classrooms program. This was our final day together, and we concluded by reflecting on our experiences.

Continuing our final reflections and to debrief our field experiences, we were tasked today to ask ourselves some questions:

1 – During our exchange __________ , so I now want to __________ .

2 – Experiencing ____________ inspired a new perspective because ____________ .

3 – Before my time in Indonesia, I thought ____________ but now ___________ .

Here are some of the answers I came up with:

Water taxi

Another water taxi as we neared the dock in Banjarmasin. This was Sunday, which to people here is like Saturday for us – a day to enjoy the river and the morning.

1 – During my exchange, I saw Banjarmasin, which is a city barely above sea level. Now I want to do more to mitigate climate change.

David by Martapura mosque

David Black by the main mosque in Martapura

2 – Experiencing Muslim culture inspired a new perspective because I saw how many things we had in common and how our faiths are similar.

3 – Before my time in Indonesia, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to feel at home here with different foods, climate, and daily practices. Now I realize that I can feel at home and even thrive here. It makes me want to explore other places in the world and learn of more cultures.

Bakso soup

The best bakso in Banjarmasin.

We talked of our roles as education ambassadors and trying to understand the cultural iceberg – that the practices and behaviors we see are on the surface, but what drives them – the beliefs and values and attitudes – are the rest of the iceberg, hidden underneath. We have to infer these values from the practices we observe. Various institutions of influence are the currents that move the iceberg of culture. Do we try to impose our own values on Indonesians, or do we merely observe while keeping an open mind? To what extent has western culture imposed itself upon them? What parts of their culture come from core values that may be different than our own?

We did an exercise to try to grapple with any lingering emotions we may have. We created a T-chart of the emotion we were feeling and the memories they were associated with. My emotions include awe at the beauty I had seen rafting down the Amandit River on Friday, a feeling of connection and oneness at seeing the Southern Cross for the first time, a feeling of trepidation at eating Soto Bang Amat and other dishes where I didn’t know exactly what was in them, a feeling of disappointment at seeing trash around the waterfall above the Dayak Village, and appreciation for the generosity and kindness of Nazar’s family. There are many more, but these were the ones I decided to reflect upon. How are these emotions influencing (for good or bad) the stories I am telling through these blog posts?

We talked about the danger of the single story – telling our experience from only one viewpoint. I decided at the very beginning, during our symposium in February, to tell generative rather than contaminating stories. This is not because everything has been universally rosy and positive here. I’ve certainly had challenges. But I’ve deliberately tried to tell what I’ve experienced from a positive perspective and to build bridges in a world that seems bent on “othering” and polarization. I want to strengthen civility instead of discord and contention, and to promote peace through international understanding. The more we learn of another culture, such as that of Indonesia, the less we will be likely to see them as others. My whole goal has been to further this outcome – that as you read what I’ve posted, you’ll come to appreciate the people and culture of Indonesia.

Education values poster

Part of our analysis and reflection today was to divide up into groups to summarize what we had learned about different aspects of the Indonesian education system. This is a poster my group put together, in my handwriting.

We practiced the types of stories we will tell when people ask us how it was in Indonesia – the two-minute elevator spiel to the 30-minute coffee table conversation. We pretended to be different people such as an administrator or a barely interested colleague and then trade places. We talked about the final take-away: if we could encapsulate our experience in a single statement or paragraph, what would it be? My answers are in the previous post about my guiding questions, and I will come back to them at the end after I return home and write my final reflections.

We wrote a letter to ourselves to remind us of what we have learned and what we intend to do from here on. As of this writing, I still haven’t received it. I can’t remember exactly what I said. Something profound, I hope.

Craig with pole

Craig Hendrick posing on the raft. We asked Amli if we could take a turn at pushing the raft. He waited until a quiet spot and let us pose. It is trickier than it looks to keep your balance on the flexible raft. Notice how the water comes up through the bamboo poles.

We ended the day by doing a shout-out circle; we shared what impressed us about the other teachers. This has been a great group to work with, and Craig was very patient with me and my enthusiasms and constant photo taking through our experience in Banjarmasin. I expressed appreciation for him and for several others that I have learned from. I admitted to everyone that one thing I took away from the experience is that I needed to buy a smart phone.

Group explains poster

Kristy explains her group’s poster as Wendy, Matt, Kate, and Nikki look on.

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