I had heard about the infamous Jakarta traffic and prepared for the 36 km, nearly two-hour drive from the airport to the hotel. Indonesia is 14 hours ahead of California, so we essentially missed Wednesday and arrived on Thursday.
After an interesting breakfast – Indonesians eat rice at every meal, as well as meats and seafood – we headed off to our guide’s public school – SMP 49 in east Jakarta. During Ramadan I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat or drink much, so I fueled up!
As we drove into the school, we were greeted by students hanging over the railings and the teachers and administrator in the parking lot. We were surprised to learn that it was a school holiday for the start of Ramadan, yet the students and teachers came to school anyways just to meet us. They made us feel like celebrities as we exited our bus!
We spent the next hour working in classrooms. To our surprise, the English teacher wanted us to teach his students, so we launched into a discussion about our schools, families, and culture of America. Notice the uniforms in this 8th grade English classroom – especially the sneakers! My partner, Amy, is from Chico, California, and we had prepared a Prezi on her iPad which really came in handy.
I was touched by how delighted the school was with our visit, and how honored and respected they made us feel. I really think that these students and teachers have so much in common with us in the US – they want to learn, improve and have great hope for their futures. We left with happy hearts and new connections to help us learn to be better global citizens.