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Jakarta Day 4: Tuesday, July 18, 2017

AMINEF logo

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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