« Resting Up | Main | The Sultan's Palace »

August 27, 2005

School Visit - Sumbawa

DAY: 74
LOCATION: Sumbawa Besar

We visited the Negeri 1 Jr. High School (SMP) today in Labuhan near Sumbawa Besar. It was interesting to be in school on a Saturday, only because my school runs on a five day week, Monday through Friday, for nine months of the year. Nurchasanah, the teacher responsible for the English speaking department, met Jason and I, along with the school's headmaster. We explained the particulars of our cultural exchange program, sponsored by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education Office in Jakarta. One part of our program involves linking schools through a global penpal program, each class having the opportunity to share a bit of their culture with another. Through the travels of the expedition, we have encountered schools along the route with amazing things to share about their corner of the world.

We walked into a class of some forty students and began to share a bit of what we are doing, speaking in English. The classroom teacher and Nurchasanah assisted with translation in Bahasa Indonesian when the students began to look confused! We have learned they have an interesting background in languages before they begin school. The primary language ( or mother language they say) is the regional dialect from the island where they live. Some islands have several regional languages. Before they begin school, the students will be exposed to Bahasa Indonesian (Indonesian language) which is the primary language spoken throughout the country. Then, when the students get to upper intermediate grades, they also learn English, so the teachers today were very excited to have English speakers in their midst to converse with the students. We gave out letters from my students and explained that we would like to have them share their interests in letters, as well, to be posted to my school in Colorado upon my return. They seemed very keen on that idea!

Before we finished the visit, Jason asked the students to identify some of the things that are most important to them. 'Friends' was first and foremost followed by family and preserving traditions of their culture. I have discovered, since my involvement with the expedition, that this seems to be a universal theme with kids everywhere we have traveled. The vision of children seems to be quite focused on similar objectives, no matter where they live in this global neighborhood. And, as their teachers said as we were leaving, creating peace through an understanding and tolerance for differences as well as identifying our similarities is so important in our world today. Through the eyes of children, it seems so simple.

Posted on August 27, 2005 3:42 PM