A few weeks ago, Will and I returned from two weeks in Surabaya for In-Service Training (IST). IST is something that all first year volunteers around the world attend about 4-6 months into their service. It’s meant to give you a boost, some perspective and some inspiration once you’ve settled into site. Most countries only have one-week ISTs, but we are lucky that PC Indonesia has it for two weeks.
The first week and a half focused on topics such as additional Indonesian language instruction, teaching critical thinking, measurement and evaluation, lesson planning, student-centered classrooms, youth development projects, the Indonesian curriculum and school structure and the Cultural Effectiveness Survey (a fairly new Meyers-Briggsesque survey that assesses your ability to adapt to and work within a new culture).
Sessions ran Monday-Friday from 8-4 with optional evening sessions. In the last three days our counterparts (Indonesian teachers we are working with) joined us for a counterparts conference. As you can imagine the vibe definitely changed and the schedule slowed down to account for translation needs, but it was equally as valuable.
During the counterpart conference we heard from a handful of more seasoned volunteers and their counterparts on the challenges and successes they’ve had in the classroom and at school. The time was well spent and I think volunteers and counterparts came away from the sessions inspired.
Before IST Will and I had been feeling pretty guilty about our lack of involvement in our community. We were doing okay at school, but it seemed that almost all other volunteers were teaching afternoon or evening English lessons to neighborhood kids. That just hadn’t materialized for us, but we also hadn’t made an effort. IST was a great spark to get us focused on this for our return to our site.
I’m happy to report that we are now teaching three different lessons in the evenings. We teach a group of small kids on Monday nights at 6pm and then high school students at 7pm at our house. Then on Wednesdays, we bike into Ngoro and teach a class at 6:30pm at my counterpart’s house before ending the night eating dinner in town. We are so glad to get this started! Will has also started an English club at his school since we’ve been back and my counterpart and I talked about starting an English club for the teachers at our school (a student English club already exists).
There are a couple of other ideas in the works as well, but we’ll get to those in a later post when they are more concrete.
As you can imagine, seeing all of our friends after four months was really fun, and it wasn’t all hard work. Come back to find out what we did for fun in IST Part Two!