Last week was our first week of school. Well, kind of. Following the three week break between school years, school kicked off on Monday with a flag ceremony and ended with a campout on Saturday night.
The first week of school actually serves as an orientation for new students (10th grade), all led by the student leaders from the 11th and 12th grade. While students spent the week cleaning the school, watching demonstrations of the extracurricular offerings and taking placement tests, the teachers mostly just killed time by hanging out and occasionally checking-in to make sure the students were still on track. It was incredible to watch the entire week being run by the student leaders, successfully, with very little input or guidance by school staff.
To end the week, the Boy Scout organization hosted a ‘camp out’ at school for all new students. Scouting is very popular in Indonesia, and some regions (like this area) make Scouts compulsory for all students (boys and girls). Saturday night served as an induction into the Scouts organization for all of the new students and I was assigned as one of the supervisors.
The night included a large bonfire, student performances, and an induction ceremony. At 11pm, everyone went to sleep—students slept in classrooms, I slept on four chairs pushed together in the teacher’s lounge. At midnight, a siren went off, waking everyone up for the midnight event that served as the hazing portion of the night. All of the new students were marched in groups of 10 to the front of the school, where there faces were painted with mud. Next they had to march into town and to a graveyard where they had to hug or kiss grave stones. Many Indonesians are very superstitious of ghosts, so this was particularly scary for the students.
(Yes, I realize how totally weird the entire preceding paragraph is)
Following that, the students returned to the school and then slept from 3-5am when the activities resumed. It was a very long night for me, but was a great chance to introduce myself to many of the students I will be teaching, as well as take part in the school’s biggest extracurricular club.
Oh, and did I mention that beginning in a few weeks, all teachers at my school will have to wear Scout uniforms on Saturdays? That includes me, too. I was in the Scouts as a kid, so this is a chance for me to relearn how to tie a square-knot and learn all of the camp songs in a new language.
School schedule for the rest of the semester
That was the first week, and things don’t become much more normal this week, either. We have class through Wednesday, followed by a three day holiday to prepare for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Because Ramadan requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, school only lasts until 11am each day. The end of Ramdan is celebrated with Eid ul Fitri where many people travel to visit family. Due to this, there is no school during the week before and after the Eid ul Fitri.
A more normal school schedule finally begins in mid-August, with school will begin at 6:45am and last until 1:45pm each day, with classes lasting 90 minutes. This schedule remains relatively uninterrupted until the break for Christmas, or at least that’s what the school calendar would have me believe.
For us, however, we have big plans as we are BALI BOUND in mid-September for a quick mini-vacation with friends to celebrate three months at our permanent site and more than five months in Indonesia.