29 Jul

It turns out an unresolved issue deciphering my right from my left, coupled with a surprising lack of coordination served me well during a marching competition of sorts. On Wednesday I “marched” five kilometers with four other teachers down the main road of our town while standers-by pointed, stared, laughed and snapped up plenty of photos and videos to commemorate the day I lost my dignity and self-respect in a bright yellow track suit. Being the optimist that I am, I’m hoping my willingness to publically humiliate myself will earn me a little street cred. Some may argue it possibly had the adverse effect…

School has been in session for a few weeks now, but a predictable and consistent schedule has yet to be established.  This is primarily because, well, things are just different here. However, there are several other contributing factors including:

  • There is a current lack of classrooms for the number of students. This splits up the school day. Some students attend class in the morning and some attend class in the afternoon. So I’m expected to come to school at different times on different days.
  • Ramadan is about to begin. This means what schedule there was is about to change. During Ramadan Muslims fast, have increased prayer activity, and odd hours of sleep. So classes are cut shorter to compensate.
  • Lastly, special events for the upcoming Hari Kemerdekaan (Indonesia’s Independece Day), like this marching competition, can take priority over class time.

So, I’m still trying to figure out how things work around here. It doesn’t seem like I’m any closer to understanding anytime soon. Although several teachers speak decent English and my Bahasa Indonesia is, of course, stellar, there are still many times when I just don’t know what’s going on. Ok?

As a new teacher, I’m eager to do a good job.  Part of this is wanting to be involved with my school and my students. So when a teacher mentioned there was some sort of school walk I could participate in, I said sure. I had no idea what I had signed up for. I didn’t know it was competitive in nature until the night before. I didn’t know it was in the middle of the afternoon when the unrelenting sun and humidity are the least tolerable. And I didn’t know I’d be “marching.”  I thought it was just some casual walk-a-thon thing.

It wasn’t. It was Gerak Jalan, or Indonesian marching, which I deem to be less marching and more of a structured walking.

Indonesians learn how to walk with structure from a young age.  They begin Gerak Jalan in grade school to learn discipline and to take part in the Upcara Bandera, the Monday flag raising ceremony that kicks off the school week.

Hence most Indonesians know how to walk  with structure well. They alternate their left arm with the right foot’s step and their right arm with the left foot’s step with ease while keeping pace with their peers. Apparently this doesn’t come natural to some.

Case in point, I’ve posted a video below from a practice session held earlier that day. A kind teacher took it upon himself to upload it to Youtube with the title Bagong, the Indonesian word for puppet, and the description indicating “teacher fails.” Please take note of the hysteria I send the teachers into as they double over in laughter and my obvious dismay and confusion. One teacher was crying, and I’m almost positive another came close to peeing his or her pants. I won’t name names.  Enjoy…

The actual competition went somewhat similarly to this, or at least it felt that way. It also had the added bonus of being painstackingly long. This was especially so, when we had to stop every few minutes to make sure I was ok and get our steps back in sync. Half the time I had a teacher walking several feet in front of me coaching me to “stop thinking, stop thinking…just walking, just keep walking.” It is true. I was rather focused. I haven’t concentrated so hard on walking since I was of a toddling age.  Regardless, I survived all this…the heat, the ridicule, the track suit… and I’d like to think I came out stronger because of it. That and I have a new quest…to redeem myself next year.

At the starting line.

3 Responses to “Fail”

  1. heru July 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Hi there writer, long time no see …lol. I see you are having a great time…or something like that…looking good with that yellow jacket by the way Keep capturing the memorable moment coz I’ll always waiting for the updates. Keep the spirit light on sista!!

  2. John August 3, 2011 at 10:43 am #



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