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Borneo Day 6: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sasirangan hanging up

Sasirangan patterns hanging up to dry at the factory along the Martapura River in Banjarmasin.

After resting for a couple of hours, we met Nazar, his wife, and his older daughter in the lobby. He was taking us to see how sasirangan, the Banjarese form of tie-dye, is done. As we drove across the river the clouds that had been gathering all day were turning dark black and rain was immanent.

Threatening clouds

Threatening storm clouds over Banjarmasin. This is supposed to be the dry season.

We crossed the Martapura and traveled along a series of ever smaller roads leading us along the west bank. The dyeing process requires a lot of water, so the factories are located inside some of the Banjar style houses along the river we had seen on our trip to Lok Baintan. As we drove along the roadway just to the west of the river, the skies opened up and the rain began. Nazar commented that this wasn’t normal for the dry season. It came down in torrents and buckets, and before long it was impossible to tell where the rainflow ended and the river began – it was all just one sheet of water. We parked under and overhang at the factory outlet and watched the rain for a minute. I took some photos and video.

Rainstorm on river

The rain begins – it came down so fast it became hard to tell where the runoff ended and the river began.

This was quite a storm, but not the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve been through the edge of a typhoon in Taiwan, and I was once in a downpour in Minneapolis in April 1986 that was beyond belief. The rain there came down so fast that the drainage system couldn’t handle it, even though the city is along the Mississippi River. The pressure in the drains was so great that manhole covers were being blown into the air and fountains of water eight feet high were geysering out of the holes. On my way to the airport a short time later, my shuttle van drove through what looked like a shallow puddle that wound up being five feet deep. The engine got wet and stalled. They had to call another shuttle van to come get us – it drove more carefully into the “puddle” and I had to climb out the window and over to the second van with my suitcase so they could take me on to the airport.

Sasirangan choices

Sasirangan samples in the factory showroom. You can find all types of colors and patterns.

As we were looking at samples in the sasirangan store, a load thunderclap and lightning stroke boomed out and the power went out. I was able to use my flash for photos, but not for video. Craig got his cell phone out and set it to flashlight mode so that I would have some light. We crossed the road to the dye factory on the other side along the river. A man showed us how they use stencils to trace the traditional patterns onto white cloth. The cloth is then tied tightly with small ties to follow the pattern of the stencils. Parts that aren’t to be dyed in the first color are covered in plastic bags.

Tied green cloth

Died green cloth with the ties in place. Where the ties gather in the cloth, the dye won’t penetrate and will leave white places, just like western tie dye. This may be the origin of tie dye.

Next door were the dye vats. Since dye works better in hot water, the room was like a sauna with steaming vats of various colors. My camera wanted to fog up, but I did get some good photos and video. The men there were wearing gloves and dipping the cloth repeatedly into various colors. The bags are moved to the previously dyed areas so that other colors can be applied where the bags had been. The cloth is then rinsed and hung up to dry on railings between the two buildings, something a bit hard to do in this rain.

Plastic covered parts

Dyeing the sasirangan cloth. The dye area was a sauna bath from the steaming hot dye vats. To protect color in areas, plastic bags are tied on to prevent the second color from reaching the first color.

The rain soon let up, and we returned to the outlet store. We looked through the colors; there were many beautiful combinations, and I bought two different bolts of cloth. One was purples and magentas, the other oranges and brick red. These will be for gifts for my sister and daughter.

Dye vats 2

The dyers used rubber globes to repeatedly dip the fabric into the dye vats. The power was knocked out by a lightning strike nearby in the storm. Between the humidity from the rain and the steaming dye baths, this room was like a sauna. They had many types of dye powders and could do any combination of colors and patterns.

Now that the rain was ending, we got back in the car and drove through winding streets to find a restaurant for supper. Nazar knew an excellent place for bakso nearby, and we drove past alleyways and along narrow roads to get there. The late afternoon light after the storm provided a silvery golden cast to everything as it reflected off the wet pavement along the alleyways. It was extremely humid after the rain, but the air was cooler and quite comfortable, so I rolled down my window to get better photos. We passed a cemetery, including the memorial to a local hero. After a few minutes, we reached the restaurant. Nazar’s son rode a Gojek to the restaurant and met us there. I had beef bakso and chilled bottled water for supper, and it was excellent. I like bakso a great deal, and have had some good stuff, but this was the best I had anywhere in Indonesia.

Alley near bakso place

Alleyway near bakso kitchen after the rainstorm.

Bakso kitchen

Bakso kitchen in Banjarmasin where we ate after visiting the sasirangan factory.

Bakso soup

The best bakso in Banjarmasin.

Road after rain

Traveling through the narrow streets of northern Banjarmasin after the rainstorm.

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Borneo Day 5: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Country lane near school

The country road leading to SMAN 1 Mandastana.

On our second day at SMAN 1 Mandastana, I was faced with a bit of a challenge. During my presentation yesterday on my school (American Academy of Innovation) I showed slides of my students doing chemistry demonstrations, including the well-known flame test demo, where nichrome wires are dipping into solutions of potassium, lithium, sodium, calcium, barium, strontium, and copper salts, then heated in a Bunsen burner flame. These elements have fairly simple quantum structures (one or two electrons in an outer shell) and emit very definite colors. As the electrons are heated up, they absorb energy from the flame and jump to specific higher quantum levels. They then emit the same wavelengths of light as they fall back down to their ground states.

Doing flame test lab

Doing the flame test lab with chemistry students at SMAN 1 Mandastana near Banjarmasin in Southern Borneo.

The students asked, through Nazar, if they could do the same lab. My response was, “I don’t know – let’s look and see what you have and maybe we can.” I didn’t want to commit the chemistry teacher to do a lab, but she seemed willing, so we looked through her supply of chemicals after the class and found cupric sulfate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and barium sulfate. No lithium or strontium, which give off the best colors, but at least these four will work. Then we looked at her equipment. She has a lab assistant, and we unlocked the cabinets in her storage room. They have one nichrome wire, alcohol burners, and a good supply of beakers. So we could make this work.

So this morning I went to the chemistry classroom first thing, about 45 minutes before the students were to come in. The teacher got out the chemicals, and I discovered something interesting: none of the chemicals had been opened, not even the sodium chloride. The equipment also appeared to be unused – not brand new, as the storage cabinet had some dust on it, but sitting there for I don’t know how long. No stains on the beakers, and the alcohol burners had never been lit. We had to scrounge around to find a cigarette lighter. At least the container of alcohol for the burners appeared to have been used – about 1/3 of it was gone.

Flame test 2

David Black helping students with the flame test lab at SMAN 1 Mandastana near Banjarmasin in Southern Kalimantan.

Now I know this is not the norm throughout Indonesia, as I had seen the Assistant Principal at the elementary school we visited do the Priestley Experiment, the chemistry equipment at the SMAN 8 Jakarta school was well-used, and I found out later that other teachers saw science experiments being done at their host schools. So I don’t know why the equipment and chemicals have not been used here. The teacher certainly knows her stuff, as I saw from the class the previous day when the students were taking notes on mole fractions. And she is very willing to do this lab. So it seems to me that she either hasn’t had the training/professional development of how to conduct labs and use her equipment or she is unwilling to use up her supplies.

It also appears to me that the chemicals and supplies were part of a package provided by the central government, with a set list of materials. As chemistry classes go, she was fairly well supplied, but the chemicals were stored inside the fume hood as well as underneath, and the hood looked as if it might not function or be hooked up properly. The school is 20 years old and all the sinks in the chemistry lab were rusted out and nonfunctional, so that I had to get water for my solutions from a container on the counter. It was not possible for me to inquire further to see if this condition is general throughout Kalimantan Selatan or other provinces, but I guess that this might be a common problem in rural schools in Indonesia. After all, it is a common enough problem in the United States. Many teachers in both countries do not do the types of inquiry labs that students need to understand the practical side of chemistry.

David with chemistry teachers

David Black posing with the chemistry teachers (left) and English teachers (right) of SMAN 1 Mandastana. I really need to get my name tag straightened out . . .

Once I had the solutions made, I lit an alcohol lamp and saw that its flame was orange, not the blue I’m used to in Bunsen burners or with methanol. But with repeated dipping and heating, the colors were visible except for the barium, which is always the hardest one to see. We were able to find or make five wires, and divided the students into five groups. They traded off the four solutions. I told them what the five chemicals were and what colors to expect. I found that most of the elements are named the same in Bahasa Indonesia, except that the ones with Latin symbols are also pronounced with their Latin names. For example, sodium is called natrium in Indonesia and potassium is kalium. The only chemical I had to learn was copper, which is common enough that an Indonesian word exists for it: tembago. I labeled the solutions A, B, C, and D and told the students that they would have to observe the colors in the flame, then make their best guess as to which chemical each solution was. It took some doing and many dips. The copper kept contaminating the results for subsequent chemicals, but the potassium was good and the sodium simply made the orange flame oranger.

Flame test lab

Students in the chemistry class at SMAN 1 Mandastana conducting a flame test lab. I had to improvise for materials and chemicals, but the lab turned our fairly well. It was a true challenge in global education!

When we finished, I had the students shout out which solution they thought each was, and they got it right. I understood the names of the elements in Bahasa Indonesia by this time, so I didn’t need as much translation. Barium had to be guessed by a process of elimination. Given the challenges of the materials and the alcohol lamps, which simply didn’t get hot enough to really see the colors well, this lab turned out quite well. I will never forget this experience of teaching a science lab in a foreign language using scrounged materials.

As I observed the chemistry teacher the day before, and as I taught this class, I was struck by how impossible this would have been if this had been any subject except science. Yes, Nazar helped translate, but I was able to use Indonesian words for the elements and explain a few things where he didn’t know the words, since he is an English teacher and not a science teacher. Where Nazar couldn’t translate and I didn’t know how to explain, the chemistry teacher and her assistant were able to. Science is truly a universal language, but I have never put it to the test like this before. I was even able to do some explanation of quantum leaps and color emission, which the students seemed to understand. I don’t know if they have studied this before, but I saw comprehension on their faces despite some fumbling with the translations, more so than I usually see in American students’ faces.

Flame test

Looking for the blue flame of copper (tembago) sulfate.

Nazar said we could treat him to American food today, so we drove back to the city. We passed a large mosque at a roundabout that we had stopped at on Sunday in order to say prayers and use the restroom, but now there was a protest going on in front of the mosque in the traffic circle itself. The signs said this was a protest in favor of Palestinians in Israel. We didn’t stop, as we had been told not to get to close to protests as the mood of the crowd can turn ugly fast. This protest seemed pretty peaceful, with a few banners and people chanting but nothing else.

PE class with Nazar and Craig

Before the chemistry class, we went out with some of the students during their PE class to visit the junior high school next door and to see the area. Notice that the students are walking (and running) on a rough road surface in bare feet. The girls wear PE hijabs which seem very hot to me to wear in this heat.

We found a Kentucky Fried Chicken place near the Duta Mall in Banjarmasin. It was fairly standard KFC, except for the steamed rice they served. You can’t get away from that. But I think I’ve had about enough fried chicken for a while. I was running short of money, so we found a currency exchange place not far from the hotel and I exchanged the rest of my U.S. dollars (about $60) into rupiah, which was quite a pile.

Interesting name for a store

We passed this store on our way to the school, and I got a photo of it this morning. It is the old logo of my college alma mater, a strange thing to see in Borneo.

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Jakarta Day 3: Monday, July 17, 2017

Global Ed imageOn Monday we spent most of the day at the hotel learning about the Indonesian Education system. I’ll provide a summary of what we learned in this post.

We began in the conference room with Mariya, the director of ILEP (International Leaders in Education Program), which is the mirror program to Teachers for Global Classrooms. Teachers from 15 or so developing countries apply and are accepted to the program each year. The U.S. State Department pays their way to the United States for five months to attend universities, learn English, and take education pedagogy classes. These then return to their home countries and become our host teachers once there are enough in a country to support an entire cohort of 12-16 teachers.

Indonesia’s education system is definitely a top-down hierarchical structure, beginning with President Widodo at the top, then overseen by the Minister of Education, Muhadjir Effendi, and the Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, Muhammad Nasir, for public secular schools (about 84% of the total). From there, it is directed by the provincial governors. There are 12 years of compulsory education: six years of primary school, three years of junior high, and three years of senior high, which can be in an academic or a vocational school.

Jakarta skyline

A smoggy day in Jakarta.

There are two parallel systems of schools in Indonesia. The first is the regular public schools, or negeri schools, such as the SDN or Sekolah Dasar Negeri (primary schools); the SMPN or Sekolah Menengah Pertama Negari (school medium first public, or junior high schools); and the SMAN or Sekolah Menengah Atas Negeri (school medium upper public, or senior high schools). The second system is the madrasah, or religious schools (usually Islamic). These are also supported by government funds under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. At the high school level, for interested students or for students that don’t pass the mandatory senior high academic entrance exams, there are vocational schools teaching technology, engineering, art, crafts, hotel management or hospitality, tourism, IT, agriculture, forestry, cooking, legal clerking, and other fields. These schools are called SMK schools, or Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan.

There are some private schools and some students are home-schooled. Private schools charge fees and tuition and usually have better facilities, such as more labs, Internet access, lower class sizes, and air conditioning. Trust me, air conditioning is a major plus. About 7% of the population attends private schools.

Panelists

Sarah Sever with panelists. Dewi is on the right in red.

Students with special needs are not mainstreamed in the pubic schools but attend a Sekolah Luar Biasa or Extraordinary School. These are usually boarding schools and costly, so must students with special needs are simply not educated. When I asked about this, the common answer is that teachers/schools lacked the facilities or training to handle such students or that it would cost too much to make regular schools accessible or to provide accommodations.

No training is provided for special education, and the disabled are not often seen in public. During all my time in Indonesia, I saw one man in a wheelchair without legs (he was at a restaurant parking lot asking for handouts – this was the only begging I saw in the country, and he was treated with respect, not as a beggar), and one child with Down Syndrome in a shopping mall being led by his mother. No one else. Surely there are more people with disabilities. It seems they are out of sight and out of mind. As the father of a child with Down Syndrome, I hope this changes for them. Mainstreaming is good for disabled students and regular students as well, but it took an act of congress and a great deal of commitment for it to happen here.

Teacher training is provided through various universities across Indonesia, and some programs have laboratory schools (such as the school we were to see on Thursday). All teachers are employees of the government and have comparable salaries across all provinces, which can be an issue as it therefore becomes difficult to attract teachers to some of the more remote provinces such as Papua New Guinea. Teachers can request to teach in their home provinces, but they are ultimately assigned by the central government.

Group with panelists

Indonesia cohort of teachers with the Teachers for Global Classrooms program in Indonesia with our panelists.

Education standards and curriculum are determined centrally by the government and leave very little room for local interpretation. Textbooks are centrally decided and provided, as are lab supplies such as beakers, alcohol burners, and chemicals. As I was to discover, this doesn’t mean they are used equally from school to school or that all teachers have sufficient professional development for doing hands-on labs. All teachers are required to provide a detailed syllabus with a complete breakdown of how many days and hours spent on each concept and an academic calendar with analysis of effective days, or days per subject/concept. They also must provide lesson plans for each day (some flexibility is allowed), and both syllabus and lessons are placed in binders in a central location in each school so that substitutes can access them. Teachers are also required to keep attendance lists, journals/notes on the effectiveness of their lessons, and student journals.

Day to day operations are somewhat different than American schools, as students basically stay put in a room and teachers move around, except in specialized classes such as science where students need the lab spaces and therefore move to them. The exact schedule each day was something I never quite figured out, as it seemed to be rather fluid from day to day. In general, a teacher was in a room for about 90 minutes divided into 45 minute sections. The overall calendar for the year is hard to figure out – I looked over the large one at SMAN 1 Mandastana and there were no-school days for Ramadan and Idul Fitri (post Ramadan feast days), Christmas Break, a break in the fall and spring, but also days blocked out for testing, etc. Since Ramadan progresses with the lunar phases each year, the school calendar has to make adjustments around it.

Le Meridien Hotel

The Le Meridien Hotel, where we held our training session today.

By the time students get to high school, they are either in an SMK school in a specific area of study or they are in an academic high school (SMAN) in one of three “major” tracks: sciences, social sciences, or languages. There are some general education courses, such as Islamic studies, that cross all majors, but the students specialize. Language students take classes in 3-4 different languages, including Bahasa Indonesia and English, if teachers are available. Science track students take Civics, Bahasa Indonesia, English, Math, Biology (Biologi), Chemistry (Kimia), Physics (Fisika), Economics, History, Sports, Art, and Local Studies. There is no earth science, geology, or astronomy taught in high school as separate classes, although concepts from these fields may be incorporated into other classes or be taught at the junior high level. I didn’t see any evidence of them being taught in high schools.

After lunch we had several educators at the college level provide a panel discussion. They spoke of some of the training and distribution challenges and how there are gaps in quality in various parts of Indonesia. Because of a government requirement that a school must have at least nine teachers, some small schools have a very high teacher to student ratio, whereas teachers in Jakarta can have 36-42 students in a class. Overall, Indonesia has a 1:15 ratio, one of the lowest in the world. In addition to inequalities in teacher quality and student ratios, leadership is an issue. School administrators typically are selected from the ranks of regular teachers without additional training. They are “teachers with extra tasks.”

But given all these issues, education is seen throughout Indonesia as a valuable and respected career path and teachers are treated as professionals. Parents generally trust teachers and don’t ask questions or challenge them (this can be both a good and a bad thing). Because teachers are relied on so much, most parents are not very involved and parent teacher organizations (PTAs and PTOs) are almost non-existent.

Hotel pool

The pool at the La Meridien Hotel. I never actually went swimming in it.

Indonesians seem open to making changes in their education system, as seen by the yearly tweaks made to the curriculum and course schedules, but because of a centralized hierarchy, change is slow. Certification programs to improve teacher qualifications are only about ten years old, and older teachers are still resisting. Decentralized education is beginning. Differentiation in salaries is starting to be used to draw teachers to remote provinces. Additional control over education is moving to the provinces, such as the now required local studies course, which is decided at the provincial level. Infrastructure improvements to old schools and outdated labs are a continuing challenge and always will be.

It will be interesting to see how things change here over the next ten years as Indonesia enters the ranks of the developed countries. It will be interesting to see how education in the United States changes over the next ten years as well. I hope to be a part of that change.

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Jakarta Day 2: Sunday, July 16, 2017

President-Joko-Widodo with hat

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. I have to get me one of those hats!

After our batik class at the Museum Tekstil Jakarta, we boarded the Whitehorse bus and drove to the Grand Mall of Indonesia, the largest shopping mall in the country. I’ll talk in another post about my feelings about why shopping malls are popular here, but suffice it to say it is huge and contains many western style shops. It is divided into two large sections with a roadway passing between and walkways over the road. We got off the bus, went through a normal security checkpoint (very common here – all hotels have them when you enter) and went into the lobby of the East Mall.

We immediately ran into a large crowd gathered around someone near the far wall who was moving slowly along. Everyone had cell phones out and were trying to take photos. I asked a blonde American lady standing nearby who the person was, and she didn’t know. It must be some local celebrity, I thought, to gather such as crowd. Finally, an Indonesian person told me who it was: “Jokowi, Jokowi!”

Doug with Pres

One of the TGC teachers, Doug, with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.

It took a bit longer to realize that this is their nickname for Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia. He had simply dropped by the mall to say hello and shake hands. No grand announcements or press event, no media circus unless you count countless cell-phone recordings, just a not-so-quick stroll through the mall to meet the people. Someone said he does this fairly often.

Matt and Jen with Pres

Matt and Jennifer with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. I didn’t want to press my way into the crowd, so my own photos didn’t turn out very well.

This was amazing. Can you imagine Pres. Trump just dropping by a local shopping center to shake hands? Everything our president does is orchestrated months in advance with a team of Secret Security agents making arrangements for every detail long before. There can be no “dropping by” anywhere. This is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India, and the United States. Over 275 million people that he leads. And he only had a thin phalanx of security guards in black uniforms and a few mall cops (which must have been scared to death by the sudden responsibility). He was shaking hands and posing for selfies, working his way slowly around the ground floor and out the other side. The mall entrance had no more than the usual level of security check.

Escalator layers

Layers in the Grand Mall of Jakarta.

Several of our teachers seized the opportunity, and being larger than most Indonesians, managed to push their way forward through the crowd and even got their photos taken with Pres. Jokowi. It made Dewi very jealous. I am including the photos here.

We were supposed to get our own supper while at the mall. I used the money I borrowed from Nikki because I haven’t had the chance to change the U.S. cash that I brought. I carry it in the leg pouch that Gayla (my sister) loaned me. The exchange rate here is crazy – about 13,000 rupiah per U.S. dollar. That’s a lot of zeros. They went through a major devaluation and inflation period in the late 1990s, and it resulted in long-time president Soeharto stepping aside. This led, finally, to the democratic election of new presidents, of which Jokowi is the most recent. It will be a challenge to figure out the equivalent U.S. values of things and not have “sticker shock” when a drink of juice costs over 10,000 rupiah.

Me in mall

David Black at the top of the Grand Mall of Jakarta overlooking the city.

I bought some Minute Maid juice in a supermarket downstairs – I wasn’t hungry for supper. I wanted to see just how big this mall was, so I worked my way up to the top along with Jennifer and Matt. We found some windows looking out and a great view of part of Jakarta with colorful houses and tall buildings clustered in no apparent order or pattern. I took some panoramic shots. I am including one here, as well as photos looking down into the mall.

Jakarta panorama

A panorama of part of Jakarta from the top of the Grand Mall.

On the way back to the lobby, I stopped by a chocolate store to sample their products. They had nibs and other samples that were excellent, and claim to be a sustainable production. I hope to see cacao plantations and chocolate production on my five-day extension in Yogyakarta and Bali.

Cokelat store

Chocolate (cokelat) store in the Grand Mall of Jakarta.

We gathered in the lobby and got back on the bus outside, then worked our way back to the hotel. On the way, I took photos of the bougainvillea with pink, magenta, purple, white, and salmon/orange blossoms along the road, some food stalls selling bakso (meatball soup), which was made famous by being a food that President Obama liked on his visit here, and the wild power lines stretched all over the place, an electrician’s nightmare. I thought of the infrastructure challenges facing a rapidly developing nation, and how Jokowi’s leadership and popularity are changing the face of Indonesia as it joins the ranks of major nations on Earth. I can certainly see why he is popular.

Food stands

Food stalls near the Grand Mall of Jakarta. You see these all over the city, including mobile food carts (like the one in the middle).

Outside Le Meridien

Back at the Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta after a busy day.

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Jakarta Day 2: Sunday, July 16, 2017

Me doing batik

David Black working on a batik design of Ondel-Ondel at the Museum Tekstil Jakarta.

After our morning sessions at the hotel, we ate lunch at the buffet (the desserts were amazing) and boarded out Whitehorse bus to visit the Museum Tekstil Jakarta, or the Textile Museum of Jakarta. Sarah Sever had set up a class for all of use to learn how to make batik. I was very excited by this, as learning how to do batik is one of my main goals for what to learn in Indonesia.

In my STEAM it Up class, we tried batik at the end of the school year. I ordered a kit from Dharma Trading Company with wax, a canting (the wax pen), and other materials. The instructions were not detailed enough on how to heat the wax, how hot to keep it, or how to hold the canting. The wax was very difficult to keep molten without burning it, and it kept plugging the canting’s tip or not penetrating the cloth. We tried silk and linen, and our results were less than ideal. Then we had trouble getting the wax out of the cloth.

Attempted batik-triangle patterns

One of my STEAM it Up student’s attempts at doing batik. The wax kept clogging the canting and wouldn’t penetrate into the cloth. And it kept dripping.

We walked to the workshop room, which had seats arranged around a series of small burners with wax melted in a bowl on top and cantings for each person. We chose pre-drawn patterns already in embroidery hoops, and a lady showed us how to dip and use the canting to trace the patterns. Where the wax soaks in to the cloth, the dyes won’t penetrate and the cloth is left white. It is a wax resist process.

My own attempt at batik in STEAM

My own attempt at doing batik in the STEAM it Up class. I had the students create a tessellation, such as these arrows, by drawing around a stencil on a pre-died piece of linen. Then we applied wax using a canting. But it kept dripping and clogging.

My pattern was rather complicated, a pair of figures called ondel-ondel with elaborate costumes and headdresses. I saw two things immediately: the wax used here melts at a lower temperature and stays liquid longer that the wax I got from Dharma, which has too much paraffin in it. Here, the wax (or malam) has more beeswax and other ingredients and is more of a brown color.

Craig-Matt-Nikki batik

Craig, Matt, and Nikki working on their batik patterns using canting (wax pens).

You dip the canting into the wax to fill the small reservoir, then hold it at a 45° angle against the cloth, which is held on your left knee (if right handed). I had some trouble with the wax dripping and making splotches on the cloth, but found if I rubbed off any excess wax from the dipping process, this problem would minimize. It felt much like using a traditional pen to do pen and ink drawings; you have to rub off the excess to keep it from dripping there, too.

At Tekstil Museum

Teachers for Global Classrooms educators at the Museum Tekstil Jakarta.

All the teachers enjoyed the process. I was one of the last ones done, and had to rush through waxing the opposite side of the cloth. The next step was to hand the cloth to the man doing the dyeing. We could do red or blue or a combined purple. I chose purple and videotaped him dyeing my cloth as well as others. The wax was then melted out in boiling water and the clothes hung up to dry.

Anu doing batik

Anu working on the same pattern I had: the traditional Ondel-Ondel dolls. Notice how she is holding the cloth at a 45° angle and tipping the canting at the same angle to avoid spilling wax (malam).

While they were drying, we stopped at the gift shop and I purchased some cantings and wax, using money borrowed from Nikki as I had not yet tried to exchange my U.S. dollars for Indonesian rupiah yet. I’ll talk about the exchange rate in a later post. We then took a tour through the museum, where they had examples of batiks from all over Indonesia. A wide variety of plants and animals are used to make the colors of the dyes. We then walked over to the separate museum on weaving techniques and styles.

Kate and Wendy see batik

A master batik artist shows Kate and Wendy her work. She later gave Wendy one of her pieces.

After these tours, I went outside because it was stuffy in the non-airconditioned buildings. It was very humid outside, but at least there was some air moving in a slight breeze. It will be a challenge to adjust to the humidity.

Professional batik

A master artist applying the malam wax using a canting pen. Notice the delicate hand work and how she is not dripping any wax. It is similar to learning how to do hand-dipped pen and ink. I just have to practice.

As I was walking around the grounds trying to find the restroom, the afternoon call to prayer (salat) rang out from several nearby mosques. This is not the first time I had heard the prayer call. In 1984, I traveled with my family to parts of Europe and Israel, and while in Jerusalem I visited the Dome of the Rock and heard the calls to prayer. The calls ring out loudly so that all people can hear wherever they are and whatever they are doing. These prayers are done five times per day, and begin with the Kalimah, a statement of belief that there is only one God and Muhammad was his prophet. This is one of the five Pillars of Islam. The imam for each mosque then decides a passage from the Quran to read, and the muezzin calls out the passage as a song, which is quite beautiful to listen to and rather haunting. I recorded some of it.

Everyones batik drying

Teacher batik hanging up to dry. We could choose red or blue or a combination. The border was painted on and cracked by one of the museum teachers.

Sarah collected our dried batiks. Mine wasn’t exactly a work of art, but it was much better than my earlier attempts in my STEAM it Up class. We re-boarded the Whitehorse bus and traveled gradually toward our next destination. I took photos of bougainvillea and other flowering plants along the way. I have missed the colorful flowers of the tropics.

Batik sample

Batik sample in the Museum Tekstil Jakarta.

Batik sample 2

Other batik samples in the museum.

Me with ondel ondel

David Black with Ondel-Ondel statues. I bought some canting at the museum store for use in my classes at school.

Flowering bushes

Flowering bushes, mostly bougainvillea. Although native to Mexico, this bush is now found throughout the tropics in Asia.

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Jakarta Day 2: Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garuda pancasila

The Indonesian flag, with the golden Garuda holding the motto “Unity in Diversity” (old Javanese – Different but One). The five symbols in the shield are the Pancasila.

Now that we were all in Jakarta, we were ready to begin the final training for our field experiences at various schools across Indonesia. We spent the morning in a conference room at the Le Meridién Hotel learning about Indonesian customs and culture.

Dewi led our discussion. She began with a brief history of Indonesia, including the discoveries of Java Man, events leading up to Indonesian independence in 1945, and the governments of Sukarno and Soeharto. When the economy tanked in 1997, Soeharto was forced to step down and Indonesia has been a representative democracy ever since. She discussed the philosophy of Pancasila and the emblem of Indonesia, the Garuda bird with the shield divided into five sections representing the five principles of Pancasila: 1 – The Star, representing a unity of belief in one God (there are five recognized religions in Indonesia: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestant Christianity – of course, some of these five are polytheistic, such as Hinduism, so I’m not sure how the “one God” aspect works); 2 – The Gold Chain, representing a just and civilized humanity; 3 – The Banyan Tree, representing different roots growing into a common national unity; 4 – The Bull, representing a democracy based on the inherent wisdom of unanimity arising from deliberation among popular representatives; and 5 – The Rice and Cotton, representing social justice for all Indonesians.

We had a break with some tasty juices (pineapple and mango) and fried banana fritters and cookies.

Provinces-of-Indonesia-Map copy

The provinces (states) of Indonesia. They are divided into Regencies (counties) and Districts.

After the break, Dewi went on about some of the customs and the many diverse cultures around the islands. She is originally from western Sumatra but now teaches in Jambi, which is in eastern Sumatra. The major islands of Indonesia (Borneo, Java, and Sumatra) are called the Greater Sunda Islands and are large enough to have many cultures and dialects on the same island. Western Sumatra has unique food, architecture, and customs compared with eastern Sumatra or the more conservative Muslims of Aceh in northern Sumatra. Some ethnic groups or tribes live in the deep interior and have unique languages and customs.

A villager wearing traditional costume jumps over a stone

The tradition of jumping the stone on Nias Island. To prove one’s manhood, you get a running start and vault off of a foot stone and over the top. There is no soft bar that falls when you hit it. Just hard stone.

I checked out a video from our local library about traveling in Indonesia, which also covered some of these ethnic groups. One group on Nias Island off the west coast of Sumatra have a kind of high jump tradition to test one’s arriving at manhood – you get a running start, vault off of a standing stone, and must clear a hurdle about six feet high. Dewi and the video both spoke of other ethnic groups, such as the Toraja of Sulawesi who have houses shaped like the hulls of boats and don’t burry their dead for a year, the Betawi of Java with the traditional black “Soeharto” hat (I’ve got to get one of these) and who have the Ondel-ondel puppets, the saman dance of Aceh province, or the plate dance of West Sumatra, where they break the plates at the end and jump on them barefoot, the kecak dance of Bali, the wayang puppets of Yogyakarta, and other traditions.

There are perhaps 200 or more dialects throughout Indonesia, and Bahasa Indonesia has become the official language as a way of unifying all these cultures together. Most people speak and read it as well as their local dialect and some English or other international language. Teachers wear a khaki tan uniform on Mondays and Tuesdays, black pants and white shirts with ties on Wednesdays, local batik patterns on Thursdays, and more casual clothing on Fridays and Saturdays. School goes six days per week, although Saturdays are more for activities and clubs.

Dewi ended by talking about different Indonesian foods, such as beef rendang (a spicy beef dish from Sumatra), nasi goreng (fried rice), satay padang (rice cakes with sauce), soto (a noodle and rice stew), and bakso (meatball soup). She spoke of cendol, a drink made from sweet green beans and coconut, as well as other favorites. I expect to have the chance to try all of these over the next three weeks.

Beef rendang

Beef rendang, a spicy and savory dish from western Sumatra.

We would learn more particulars about the Indonesian education system tomorrow, but for now, our training was done for the day.

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Jakarta Day 1: Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mie Yogya hot stuff

Mie Yogya, a very spicy dish of fried chicken, steamed rice, and vegetables. And I didn’t even add any sambal sauce.

We met in the lobby of the Le Meridién Hotel in Jakarta at 6:15 to board the bus to our welcome dinner. It was nice to see the other teachers, and they welcomed us and heard our tale of woe and our unexpected detour through Sydney. They arrived about 1:00 last night and at least had a good sleep all morning before heading to the National Monument this afternoon.

The restaurant was called Tjikini Lima, and we sat at a long table near the entrance and ordered various Indonesian dishes. I decided to try Mie Yogya, which turned out to be a very spicy chicken stew with steamed rice and carrots. It was delicious but my mouth was on fire. There is a good reason why they call these the Spice Islands. I was glad to have a water bottle, and I had also ordered a berry shake, which was more like an Italian soda in consistency but very good. It helped to cut the burn of the food. The flavor was amazing.

Welcome dinner

Some of the educators in the Teachers for Global Classrooms program at the Tjikini Lima restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I managed to stay awake enough through dinner, but found I was clumsy and very jetlagged – I dropped a bunch of utensils on the floor. Kate and Christie were kind enough to try to keep me talking and engaged, but I found I could not stop nodding off. I hope I can sleep well tonight.

Our in-country consultant is Dewi, a high school English teacher from Jambi on Sumatra. She is very funny and positive, the perfect host. We were also met by Novianti, the host teachers for Mike and Ursula, who will be staying in Jakarta for their host school experience.

Welcome dinner 2

Teachers at our welcome dinner for the Teachers for Global Classrooms program in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Once we got back to the hotel I headed for my room and fell asleep almost immediately. This has been a very, very long journey and my first time across the Pacific Ocean in over 36 years. I’m happy to finally be here in Indonesia. Except for some major jet lag, I am ready to go!

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