One week in November, I had each of my classes Skype with one of my friends from back home. It was a great experience for the students to have a chance to speak with another foreigner, and I think my friends really got a kick out of meeting my students in Gorontalo, Indonesia.
The time difference was the first hurdle to overcome because it made scheduling the Skype sessions tricky. Gorontalo was 13 hours ahead of my friends on the east coast and 15 hours ahead of those in Arizona. To participate, my friends would need to be available at night. For an afternoon class in Gorontalo it could be after midnight in the U.S.
Another surprise for my friends was that each one of them was put on the spot to sing. I’ve found that this seems to be a recurring social theme in Indonesian culture to ask visitors/guests/foreigners to sing… as I have been asked to sing on many occasions. My friends offered a range of different styles and types of songs. Drake sang “Little Teapot” and Sami, who is studying music, gave the students a full performance, singing while accompanying herself on keyboard. My students were wowed! We got some modern pop hits from Tinsley and Caroline, “Sorry” by Justin Bieber and “Blank Space” by Taylor swift. A big thank you to Caroline, Ellen, Tinsley, Drake, Sami, Richie, Liz, Logan, and Steph for spending time with my students.
The conversations ranged from languages: Mandarin Chinese, Javanese, Sundanese, Bahasa Gorontalo, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, French, etc, to popular culture such as American football and American slang, and interest in educational opportunities such as Med school/graduate school advice along with studying languages and arts at the university level. Here are some snapshots of my students Skyping with my friends:
Steph introduced the students to her cat, Lana!
There’s drake either singing “Little Teapot” or speaking in Madarin Chinese:
Here’s Tinsley post vocal performance:
There’s Caroline, talking with the students about tacos and bakso (Indonesian meatball soup:
Above is Liz, talking to the students about being a college athlete. And lastly, the students photographed below are Skyping Logan and asking her questions about med school!
November 10th was Ibu Trisna’s birthday! Ibu Trisna is my counterpart and one of my coteachers. She and I have gotten especially close throughout the year. On her birthday, we surprised her with a cake, balloons, and gifts at 5:30 in the morning! Several students showed up for the surprise as they had written her birthday cards. Here is a picture of Ibu Trisna and Ibu Cica; they are best friends:
Above Ibu Cica is serving cake for the students who came for the birthday surprise, along with Ibu Trisna’s family and a few other teachers who came to surprise the birthday girl.
Weddings, circumcision parties, and family gatherings have been a big part of my first few months in Gorontalo. It became clear from the beginning that Gorontalo is an inclusive, community-oriented city, and I was invited along to all the events and ceremonies immediately.
At traditional weddings, the whole community gathers and the bride and groom sit on stage, with their parents, under a festive tent throughout the ceremony. There are singing performances, prayers, and speeches by people who are close to the couple. After the ceremony, the bride and groom are greeted on stage by friends and family and then everyone engages in a hardy dinner. Here are some photos from weddings I’ve attended in Gorontalo:
That’s Ibu Cica, leading the way to our seats!Above is the decorative tent, the bride and groom are in the middle, with their parents on the far left and far right of the group. The three men not clad in pink are friends of the couple. Below are members of the bridal party from a different wedding. They are chatting outside after the ceremony.
And lastly is a photo of Ibu Dhe, Ibu Sartini, Pak Harry and me after a wedding ceremony. All four of us teach at MAN Insan Cendekia:
Circumcision parties are similar to traditional weddings in Gorontalo. The young boy sits in a decorative tent and his community comes to celebrate him. After the ceremony, he is greeted by friends and family members on stage and then everyone feasts! Unfortunately, in the photos below, the young lad doesn’t appear to be all that thrilled with the festivities: