Planetary Pileup

by Tabitha Kidwell

My November horoscope from Glamour tells me:

A planetary pileup in your communication and community houses predicts a busy month. You’ve got people to see and places to go! Carry a couple of headbands, one with cute details, one chic. Use as needed.

I’m not totally sure which planet governs headbands, but this horoscope was spot-on. It has been a crazy month. First, on November 2nd, I gave a presentation on “Integrated Skills Lessons: A Pathway to Character Building” with my friend and colleague Bu Dewi, who works both at STAIN (my university) and the university where we gave the presentation.

That afternoon, my friend Jon arrived in town to present at my elementary teacher development group the next morning.

While he was here, we visited Gedung Songo, a complex of hill-top temples…

… and we climbed Mt. Merbabu, the mountain looming over Salatiga that I have wanted to climb for the past year.

On Monday, we traveled to Surabaya to join the 18 other English Language Fellows and English teachers from across Indonesia for the Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Indonesia (TEFLIN) conference. I presented on web-quests in the first slot after the keynote speech – prime time! Unfortunately, I was still virtually unable to use my quad muscles after Sunday’s climb and had to present sitting down. I had a nice sunburn going on, too!

The fellows skipped out on Wednesday’s conference sessions so we could go to the Consulate General to watch the election results roll in. They had a result party and broadcasted CNN. It was a tense few hours, but we left happy, if a little disoriented by learning the election results in the middle of the day. It was a little anti-climactic. Over the next few days, many Indonesians congratulated me and expressed their relief that he had won. They love Obama here since, you know, he is Indonesian. I’m pretty sure that if he had lost he could have won the next presidential election here.

No cameras allowed, so these are from the consulate’s website

I spent most of the morning standing where Jess is, with my head on Barack Obama’s shoulder

We also did a little of this:

And a little of this:

Which led to this:

After the TEFLIN conference ended on, we split up to go to various sites and give presentations on Friday. I did my TEFLIN presentation again for the local high school teacher group. Then, Saturday, we did a workshop for the Fulbright English Teacching Assistants to troubleshoot some of the problems they’ve been having in the classroom. I headed back to Salatiga on Sunday, only to spend two long days giving speaking exams and head back to Jakarta on Wednesday for the Access camp (see my previous post for more info on that).

We returned to Jakarta on Sunday the 19th, and had a day of pampering. We ate Dunkin Donuts, had cocktails at a swanky restaurant, and got pedicures and deep conditioning treatments. Too bad right after we got our hair blown out, we had to walk home in the rain with no umbrellas. Luckily, we are an ingenious bunch:

The next morning, we went to the Police Language School, where our friends Jackie and Jess teach, and participated in Native Speaker Day. It was set up as a murder mystery, and the police officers had to question us (in English) to get information to solve the crime. I played Angelina Smart, the victim’s beautiful young assistant.

My best “It wasn’t me” face

In the end, each group presented their theory and the “real” murderers were put in handcuffs, to everyone’s surprise (especially my two friends playing the murderers!)

And that afternoon, I came back to Salatiga after two and a half very busy weeks. How did I do it? I think the headbands helped.

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