Story_Together, We make change!

Meeting at STAIN Malikussaleh

Sharing at STAIN Malikussaleh Lhokseumawe on Oct 5, 2012.

In the early of October, I invited Joshua Yardley, an English Language Fellow who works for RELO (Regional English Language Office), to visit my region in Lhokseumawe-Aceh. Josh bases in Banda Aceh where he is serving for human resource development (LPSDM), a department at Aceh governor office. It takes about 6-8 hours driving by bus to reach Lhokseumawe.

Student welcome Joshua as he step on the school.

Joshua stayed at my boarding school, Ruhul Islam for 3 days (2 nights) from 4-6 October 2012 . Ruhul Islam is a private Islamic boarding school in which combines formal school system (SMP and SMA) with Islamic studies with balance curriculum, this combination so we name it Dayah Terpadu. This such of Islamic boarding school is well-known as Pesantren in Java, Surau in West Sumatra. Ruhul Islam located in Tanah Luas-North Aceh, a rural area that needs about 1.5 hours to reach from Lhokseumawe.

Female Students are listening to Joshua.

Joshua attended 3 meetings within the visit. I took him to STAIN Malikussaleh Lhokseumawe to share his experience in English teaching to the students of English department who are going to be English future teachers. The meeting was about 2 hours on Friday morning. After Jum’at Prayer, I facilitated an informal discussion with the teachers at Ruhul Islam. Finally, on Saturday, Joshua came to Malikussaleh University to observed and shared with the lecturers who were attending an online lecture series hosted by Mr. Eran William (RELO Officer) in Jakarta called Shaping The Way We Teach English.

Malikussaleh University  Meeting.

The meeting with the teachers of RUIS was way to identified capability, skills, problems, and challenges faced by the teacher in the boarding. This discussion might be an early assessment for Joshua and me to make a teacher training in the near future in order to upgrade their capacity.

Discussion with teachers at Ruhul Islam Boarding School.

In addition, Joshua also gave a motivational speech to the students of Ruhul Islam on Friday evening after magrib prayer. The students were totally enthusiastic and interest to listen to Joshua’s speech. A students raced her hand and asked a question “How could I practice my English with native speaker while I am studying at the boarding?”. Joshua gave her and other students a way to participate in Pen Pal system. It is not only helping them to practice their English writing skill but also sharing information and making strong relationship while getting to know each other. At present, I’m currently helping the students to set up email address in order they can use it to penpals than use regular mail system. Joshua is doing his best assistance to link the students with his pals, teachers, and colleagues in United States of America. He had got 7 persons already.

Motivational Speech to students.

Anyway, I also took Joshua to a house of tourist destination, Rumoh Cut Mutia in Matang Kuli-North Aceh who was officially admitted as national heroin from Aceh. Besides, Joshua also tasted Acehnese cuisine, Kuah Pliek U (read; How to cook) for his lunch on Friday, and Rujak in the evening. He also ate Mi Rebus Udang in which currently becomes his daily meal in Banda Aceh.

Joshua is enjoy eating Kuah Pliek U.
I wondered what to prepare for his Lunch.

Joshua was surprised with the warm welcome from the students, teachers and leader at boarding school. Besides cultural reason, the students are never visited by foreigner whose language is English, that’s why they struggled to wait his arrival until 11.30 PM.

Leader welcomes Joshua

I didn’t ask Joshua to leave me any comment or suggestions about the school, but I am totally sure that he was concerned with the students and teachers. He promised that he will return to boarding and conduct a teacher training, he even plan to invite other ELFs along with fellows from other universities to participate. In short, Joshua and I believe that “together, we can make change”. For your information, I am being in contact with Joshua about the training, and we plan to make it on February 2013.

Leader gave a Bungong Jaroe (Gift) to Joshua.

Finally, I am totally thanksfull to Eran William, the officer of RELO at US Embassy in Jakarta who had linked me with Joshua. I knew  Eran when I presented my service project, English Capacity Building, at @america in Jakarta on June 2-3, 2012. The conference presented to Kumunitas Alumni Muda Indonesia (KAMI) and managed by CCE Indonesia and The U.S. Embassy Jakarta, and sponsored by The U. S. Department of State.  On behalf of my school, I do thank to RELO for sending  the materials to my students at the school.

Do you know, what the style is it?
Group picture with students before leaving.

Joshua wrote stories about his visiting experiance. read them HERE !

Competition : We Give, We Exist

Bob, Me, and Sonia are going to sightseeing around Kentucky. May 2010 in USA.
Humble, simple, noble, respectful, helpful are only little words could describe my homestay-parent. It was just 2 days, yet it totally impressed me years. What’s more, two days with them, I felt as excited as at my own home with my own parent. Wow…imaging the moment, I wish to return to state soon.
It was 2 years since my first visit to United State of America (USA). I granted a competitive scholarship from the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the Indonesian International Education Foundation (IIEF). The program was funded by US Department of State. The program aimed to prepare a chance to participants to gain English skill for academic purpose at a prestigious university in USA for 8 weeks. Among 800 applicants, 21 of 61 selected undergraduate students all over archipelagoes were placed at Ohio University, USA.
We were very lucky to visit Ohio in spring which gave us an opportunity to spend a weekend through homestay program. I and a friend of mine were deployed at a lansia’s house (far advanced in life). Bob Derge, my father, was about 67, and Sonia, my mother, was about 59 years old in 2010. They based in Kentucky State in which neighbourhood of Ohio. Nevertheless my homestay-parent was too old to host the international students, but they were totally friendly and helpful. The ways they served us was completely opened my mind and taught me many lessons in term of attitude, culture, and religion.

My first lesson-learn was about attitude. The way Bob’s family served us was no word to explain. They were absolutely friendly, helpful, respectful, and humble. At first we stepped on their house, they welcomed us with a cup of tea prior to show us where to sleep. Then, they guided us to around the big-house. They showed where to cook, to take bath, to sleep, to wash, to play, and to browse. Each room we saw, they friendly informed us the functions of each room, sometime they inserted with the history of the house. No matter it was necessary or useless; they kept telling us every single space and thing both inside and outside the house.

Me, Bob, and Sonia inside the house. May 2010 in Kentucky, USA.
At night, they prepared us a thick blanket, because they understood about the different weather between Indonesian and state. In the morning, they heated the water for us to make a cup of tea or coffee. Before cooking, Sonia asked us what kind of American food we want to taste. In addition, as part of treatment, with complete information in printed-papers, they gave us the full rights to decide which tourist destinations we want to visit. Wow…it was the most unforgettable moment in my life.

Regarding to culture value, I learnt about the real self-independence within my homestay. Bob has two boys who married already and lived quite far from him. Bob is currently living with his wife, Sonia plus his “eternal kid”, Bob and Sonia considered the dog as the eternal kid, because unlike their own sons, it won’t be married or marries and able to accompanied them for long-life ever.

Despite Bob’s only lives with his wife, and they were both retired already due to their old age, they didn’t act as the spoilt children. They didn’t rely their needs on their sons. They didn’t pay any maid to serve them. Sonia cooked together with Bob to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They scheduled themselves to water the flowers in the front yard. Sonia has not any driver to take her to and at market. They did all thing together alone without any help from maid or home-servant.

What’s a contrast culture performed in Indonesia in many ways by many of us. A businessman has different driver for her wife, kids, and his own needs. An actress has a special maid to cook, a maid to wash, a servant to look after the kids, and any other maids depend on needs. A government also shows the same terrible culture, he/she has a single assistant for driver, a single assistant in the office, and a single assistant at home. Oh my god, how poor we are in term of independence and maturity.

In relation with religion value, a weekend homestay taught me how beautiful and peaceful the religion in America is. Bob and Sonia are Christians, but they served us totally no discrimination at all. Bob read our background information already prior to host us; he prepared us the prayer mats to do five-time prayers. Sonia made sure us to cook halal foods. Furthermore, they also kept away their big-black-dog from us, because they knew that Muslim is forbidden to be in touched with the dog. In short, for religion reason, there was nothing to worry to worship as my own belief. In fact, the real tolerance was performed by Bob’s family. Now I know what the real tolerance means for me is.

Before I said good-bye to Bob’s family, I gave them a couple of gifts which I brought from Indonesia. To be honest, giving gift is a good thing from Indonesia when we go abroad. Finally, on the way to meeting point, I pretended to be brave to ask Bob and Sonia a question stucked in my heart since first day of homestay program, “Are you paid for this homestay?”.  With big smile, Sonia answered, “That is the common question asked by every international students we host, and to be honest we are paid for nothing for homestay; on the contrary, we paid some fees to join with voluntary organization”. Surprisingly, I asked her again “Why?”, with his own style, Bob said “We fell happy when we can give something for someone”, then Sonia ended up the conversation “We give, We exist”.

Me and Sonia inside the house, Kentucky May 2010.

Essay Contest_Creating Youth with 3 “H”

Note: I sent the following article to participate in an International Essay Contest for Young People organized by Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO.
“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth”, that’s a quote by Diogenes Laertius, a Greek philosopher.  What kind of education we want to? Is our current education system could create a competitive generation?. At present and future, is it sufficient with information only? Only mastering technology?.

In fact, there are many terrible problems occur at any time whether in politics, economic, social, or culture in this world nowadays. Irresponsible leaders, greedy capitalists, careless youths, irresponsible parent, and uneducated children are part of the problems currently challenging the world. Wars never stop, death news reported every day, endless forest deforestation, divorces numbers are increasing day by day, uneducated kids are growing up, flooding moves from one place to the others, and corrupted governments are part of the consequences. 

To overcome those risky problems and phenomenon, we need absolutely new soft-revolution.  In this case, as a teacher, I am in the same line with Masahisa Goi who dedicated his life for education. I have idea to create qualified current and the next generation with 3 “H”; Head, Hand, and Heart.

At present, mastering knowledge and science are totally required. To study till the higher university education is a mandatory for the government to be fulfilled for the society. The youth should study math, physic, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and any other such classes. If they have formal education, that means they have hold already basic requirement to compete with others.  Those areas of study are to fill up the “head” of young generation. That’s the first “H”.

Second, the young generations need to be completed by skill or hand. They have to master computer skills, foreign languages, and other soft skills in order to compete in this global era. The technology stuffs are produced day by day, news and information are being spread every single minutes.  Meladee McCarty said, a troop would win the war if they are equipped with information and technology. That’s why, youth should master skills if they want to win the competition.

In term of mastering English skill for example, even I’m from a social-economic disadvantage family; I’ve proved in my own life with a number of satisfied achievements. When I was an undergraduate student at my university, there were 3 times I delegated my university to compete in Scientific English Debate for the national level. In addition, in the last year of my study at the university, I achieved a competitive scholarship from US Department of State to study at Ohio University, USA for 8 weeks. Furthermore, on April 2012, I was selected by Australia Indonesia-Institute to participate in a prestigious youth Muslim Leaders exchange program to visit Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney.

The last “H” is heart. It’s least but it’s most important one. The youth should be accomplished their heart with value. When the teachers teach the students in math, chemistry, or physic class, they should teach them the value of each class as well. For instance, why do we need nuclear? Is it for medical or war reason?. In addition, when a religious teacher teaches religion, s/he should let the students to realize why we have to be patient in traffic lights. Furthermore, when a biology teacher teaches about flora, the teacher should drive inner awareness of the students why they have to keep the environment and do not make any useless deforestation. In short, it’s not about “what”, but “why” the students should do this, and avoid doing that. The next step is pushing those values into actions to practice in daily life of entire aspects.   In this case, Herbert Spencer said, “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action”.

Combining 3 “H” in education systems would fortunate us to create the students perfectly not only in intelligence but also emotional and spiritual quotient as well.  If math is to fill one’s head, computer is to fill one’s skill, and value is to fill one’s heart. In other words of a garden, hearth is the land, head is the flower, and hand is the fence. They are relaying and relating each other.

When youth equipped with those 3 “H”, they would be the leaders who are loyal to their society, they would be the entrepreneurs who care to the social responsibilities, or they would be the fathers or mothers who are dividing their times between works and family as well as social time equally. At this point, we are living in a world where peace, justice, respect, and honor are belonging to everyone.