Midterm Recap

by Tabitha Kidwell

Wow! It is already midterms, and an entire half a semester has gone by without me posting much at all about what I have been doing! Truth is, it has been a really busy 6 weeks!

This semester, I am teaching more at STAIN Salatiga (the State Islamic University of Salatiga, if you don’t speak Indonesian acronym), including a class on using Media in Language teaching. This is the first time I have taught a teaching methods course – it’s a great opportunity since I wouldn’t be qualified to do so in the states with only a master’s degree. I have been putting a lot of (wasted?) effort into it. I’ve made elaborate power points, only to modify those power points after the first class so they’d be somewhere close to my students’ English ability. I’ve crafted assignments (complete with beautiful rubrics and detailed examples) that attempt to prompt critical thinking, then graded those assignments and realized that students still didn’t quite understand what I wanted them to do. I’ve been a little frustrated (can you tell?). I’m coming at teaching methods from a student-centered, formative assessment, standards- and mastery-based paradigm, and they are coming from a rote learning tradition, so we’re speaking two different languages (oh, and to make it a little more difficult, we are also literally speaking two different languages). It’s been a little frustrating, but I know it is not wasted effort. Some students seem to just get it, and have submitted some incredible lesson plans and activity ideas. And I think I am getting most students to think about how to be a better teacher, so they’re getting something out of the class. Turns out, it’s hard to improve the entire Indonesian language teaching system one teacher education student at a time. But I think I’m “moving the needle,” as Eran, the Regional English Language Officer (and my boss) says.

In addition to teaching, I did a bunch of different presentations in March:

On Multiculturalism in America, at a middle school in Boyolali, a small town nearby:

And on Public Speaking and Character Building for the STAIN Salatiga Communicative English Club:

And another Multiculturalism in America, this time at there American Corner at IAIN Walisongo (A university in Semarang, a town just north of here):

And on Games for Language Learning at the American Corner at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta in a town south of here:

In addition to all that, I’ve been out of town 4 out of the past 6 weekends!

First, I went to Yogyakarta, where my friend Katie (who also happens to be from Columbus) and I acted on our ambition to get into the Dispatch:

Two weeks later, I went to meet my friends Jackie and Jess in Lombok. Lombok is the island just east of Bali, and for a long time it has been billed as “the next Bali.” Much like Dippin’ Dots are the Ice Cream of the Future, I think this may be a prediction that will always stay in the future tense. For the time being, it is a quiet beachside paradise. We relaxed on the beach, swam some laps to train for our upcoming triathlon, played scrabble and ate cake:

Can you beat that?
We also did a really fun trail run with the Lombok Hash House Harriers, a group that can be found throughout Southeast Asia which is typically a running cum drinking club. Here, it was a running cum drinking water club, which was fine by us. The run took us up into the hills overlooking the ocean, but of course I didn’t have my camera so you’ll just have to take my word that it was incredible. See how happy we are afterwards?

The next weekend, I joined a whole bunch of blue at Wonosobo and Dieng Plateau, an incredible region full of natural beauty and ancient Hindu temples. I was happy because we finally had enough people with connections to Ohio to have an authentic OH-IO shot:

Dieng Plateau is basically a huge collapsed volcanic crater, so there was lots of volcanic activity:

We also hiked into a cloud:

It doesn’t look that high, but maybe the look on Ab’s face will convey that it was really freakin’ high!

The weekend after that (Easter weekend), I visited Jackie in Jakarta so that I could join her triathlon training group’s open water swim. We swam about a mile and a half, which is great since we only need to swim half a mile in the triathlon. And we still looked happy:

Maybe thanks to the incredible views:

We were less happy the next morning, when we unwittingly attended a 3 hour plus Easter Sunday church service. Actually, the church service was only about one and a half hours long – it was followed (confusingly) by a graduation ceremony and the dedication of a partnership between the church and the a seminary in America. The church service was nice, but once it was nearing noon, we left for lunch:

And shopping:

And that brings us to last weekend, when I just stayed in Salatiga. It was such a relief to just stay home and have no real plans. I hoped to get through a long to-do list, including blogging, but instead I mostly just read old issues of The New Yorker on my iPad. But now I am blogging on Monday. I promise yet again that I will be a more consistent blogger in the future. When Lombok is the new Bali. And all ice cream is freeze dried.

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