*My apologies for the title, it’s all I had in me.
In addition to working our primary assignment (teaching 16-20 hours of English every week at our assigned schools), Peace Corps Volunteers are encouraged to further get involved with the communities they live/work in. This can take many forms, from working with county-wide teachers groups to joining a local church. One of the common activities that PC Indonesia Volunteers do is offer English classes at their homes for the kids in their living in their villages.
These types of after school classes are popular in East Java and are typically known by the name LES. In my high school classes, it is obvious which students join (or can afford) English LES courses, as their English abilities are exponentially greater than the other students. LES courses are also a popular way for teachers to make extra money, as a few teachers in our surrounding county have bought cars in part with this additional income.
As PCVs, though, the classes we offer are free and often less formal. Many of these groups come together organically. Kids from the village are naturally curious about the American(s) living down the street, they start hanging around the volunteer’s house, then they bring their friends, and within a few weeks you’ve got a LES group.
Amy and I got a late start on our groups, but we were in full swing my mid-October and we now have three groups that meet weekly. On Monday evenings we host kids up to 6th grade. Later that night we have high school kids come by for help with their homework. On Wednesday nights we go to the nearby town and have a group of elementary school kids that meet at Amy’s co-teacher’s house.
From week to week, we may have 5 kids or 20, but usually around 10-12 show up. For the younger kids we alternate between topics like greetings, animals and numbers, or we may just have a night of playing games. As the kids have gotten more comfortable with us, sometimes our meetings just devolve into playing, drawing, or just talking. This past week, our Monday night high school group was cancelled, so the younger kids just stayed an extra hour hanging out on our porch.
This has definitely one of the more rewarding aspects of the Peace Corps experience so far and it has gone a long way to integrating us in within our community. Enjoy the pictures from the past few weeks.