The Challenges of Teaching English in Indonesia
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The Challenges of Teaching English in Indonesia

The other day my counterpart, Pak Warai, sat next to me as I prepared material for English club. Suddenly he asks, Mel, what can we do to make students study outside the classroom? Pak, I laughed, if we can solve that we would improve education all over the world! He sighed. I feel putus asa. … Continue reading

Cultural Observation, #4: God Counters
Bondowoso / Cultural Observations / Culture / Daily Life / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People / Teaching

Cultural Observation, #4: God Counters

Early in my service, I noticed many of my students and teachers at my school had colorful things wrapped around their fingers that they were constantly pressing. These turned out to be a sort of tally counter specially designed to conveniently count – in the case of my Muslim students and teachers – their thoughts … Continue reading

Cultural Observations, #3: Muslim Kids Believe in Santa
Bondowoso / Cultural Observations / Culture / Daily Life / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People / Teaching

Cultural Observations, #3: Muslim Kids Believe in Santa

Warning: Do not read this if you want to keep the Santa dream alive. Blame it on globalization and too much Western television, but apparently, Muslim kids believe in Santa Claus. When I visited my host family in Malang, my 5-year old host niece and her posse overheard me talking about going home for Christmas. … Continue reading

Idul Adha and Other Thoughts on Eating Animals
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Idul Adha and Other Thoughts on Eating Animals

Warning: This post contains graphic images of a cow being slaughtered. After reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and nearly becoming vegan in the process, it was quite ironic that I found myself in the middle of an animal sacrifice ritual. Let me clarify: Idul Adha is an important Muslim holiday that highlights the … Continue reading

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Behind-the-Blog Drama

During Idul Fitri, the biggest Islamic holiday of the year, I had way too much time to think about life and generally, I was having emotional overload with all the new experiences and information. I felt a lot of things that I couldn’t really blog about simply because it just wasn’t very clear. Now, after … Continue reading

On the Twelve Months of Islam
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On the Twelve Months of Islam

Though I’ve been a fasting wimp during Ramadhan—unlike many of my fellow PCVs—that does not exempt me from learning about Islam during this important month in my community. Last Sunday, August 5th, was the 17th day of the month of Ramadhan, which is the day known as Nozulul Qur’an. This is the day the Islamic … Continue reading

Bondowoso / Culture / Daily Life / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People / Photography / Religion / Teaching / Travel

Welcome to Ramadan

To kick off Ramadan all of the schools in my area participated in a “Welcome to Ramadan” parade, which started at 7am, Wednesday morning. The younger elementary and middle school students led the parade and the high school students— which includes my school—ended it. As a teacher at the school, I was asked to walk … Continue reading

Culture / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People / Religion

The Culture of Religion

That’s what learning is all about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning almost everything you’ve been taught. A willingness to learn and listen. – Anthony de Mello, SJ It is Sunday and there’s an elephant in the room. It’s because of me—of course—but not because I am “American” or not related to this family or because … Continue reading