Serpong: Food and Flexibility

We were thrilled to have a little later start today – I’m still having trouble with this 14 hour time difference.  Our driver (yes, we have a driver) picked us up at the hotel and brought us to our host, Yuna, at the local’s market.  Imagine an indoor farmer’s market the size of a warehouse, throw in VERY fresh meat, fish, prepared foods and baked goods, and add a bit of clothing and trinkets on the sides and you can imagine the sights and smells that assaulted us..









Just outside the marketplace, the Indonesian version of ‘painted ladies’ line the streets.

We drove to our host school, and watched our host teacher teach her 10th grade English class for a few minutes.  She first ushered us into an empty room to eat the snacks the bought us at the market; although fasting, she has been very considerate and accomodating to our needs.  We most enjoyed the hard rice cakes.  We also had tofu cakes with some type of egg, some type of bun with green bean, and traditional coconut gelatin cakes.
Surprisingly, after about 15 minutes she instructed them on the rest of the class lesson and we left for another school.  Indonesian teachers, at least at her school, do not use substitutes.  Students, given detailed lesson plans, are expected to complete the work and submit it to the teacher’s desk before they leave.  She says they always comply!
Another surprise came as we were leaving class to walk to the car, and Yuna exclaimed, “Oh my god!  I forgot to tell you!  You will speak to the entire school when we arrive!”
Our jaws dropped.  We’re learning to be flexible with Indonesian sense of time, eating and drinking unknown foods, and waking up at 3 am to strange explosive sounds and chanting.  Amy and I glanced at each other, not wanting to offend our host, and spent the 10 minute drive wondering what we could do to entertain an entire junior high school who may or may not speak English.  It wasn’t only the heat that was making us sweat….
The principal and teachers warmly welcomed us, ushering us into their air conditioned office.  After introductions and filling our a detailed personal information form, the principal presented us with ‘yamas’ , a type of Javanese martial arts pants.  Actually, they were the student’s gym uniforms!

We have been very careful to respect the Muslim dress code – high necklines and covering past our elbows and knees – so we were a bit surprised but gladly changed in the student bathroom and walked out onstage.  As if we were celebrities, the children cheered and encouraged us.  Notice the separation between genders – still hard to get used to that.



After what seemed like endless amounts of photos – we posed with each grade separately -we enjoyed a tour of the campus.  The brightly painted and decorated classsrooms were welcoming and despite limited resources, the children seemed to be an evident part of the school.  As we exited, I noticed this crayon-colored sign hanging on the wall; it sums up so much of what we’re experiencing and hoping for here in Indonesia.


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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