English competitions are pretty popular here in East Java. Peace Corps Volunteers would probably not be so acutely aware if it were not for the never-ending stream of invitations to serve as judges at these competitions at every school within a 30 mile radius.
My MGMP (county-wide organization of English teachers) hosted an English competition a few weeks ago. Compared to the other competitions I have been involved in as a judge, our’s really excelled in organization and keeping somewhat inline with the schedule. The competition consisted of three components: story-telling, speech and debate.
To make sure my organization had a good showing of native English speakers, I bribed four friends with the promise of Mexican food the night before the competition and they agreed to judge. It’s amazing what the promise of refried beans and guacamole will do to a Peace Corps volunteer. Even though Amy was out of town, the meal was deemed a success.
My school had three students join the speech competition and three join the story-telling competition. For the month leading up to the event, the students worked incredibly hard to prepare for the competition, practicing almost daily and skipping several other classes to rehearse (why couldn’t practice take place after school? Another post for another time).
When the competition day finally arrived, I couldn’t have been more proud of my students. They had improved by leaps and bounds, their confidence was high and they seemed genuinely excited. Of the six students, two had competed before and it was a new experience for the other four. Those four did really well and I’m looking forward to working with them next year to improve. The two that had competed last year did an incredible job. Out of eighty competitors for story-telling, they placed fourth and fifth!
Sometimes life here can be incredibly frustrating, but being able to work with these students and see how happy and excited they were was a great reminder of how often the good outweighs the bad. Enjoy some pictures from the competition: