KIM Hann and Catherine Duffey are more than a little excited about their upcoming trip to a remote village in Indonesia.
The two teachers from St Catherine’s Catholic College have been granted scholarships by the Asia Education Foundation to visit the college’s partner school, the MTs PSA Ta'allumul Huda in Ganggawang.
It is a 'pesantren' or an Islamic Boarding School where Kim and Catherine will be hosted by the school principal and his family for a week and will help with English lessons at the school.
The school is in the village of Ganggawang in Central Java and there are two faces they will be looking out for.
Last year two teachers from the school Yovi and Hendi spent a week experiencing the hospitality of Singleton and the college community. Now it is Kim and Catherine’s turn to be welcomed by Yovi and Hendi. Yovi and Hendi plan to meet the Singleton women in Yogyakarta to take them back to their village which is a six hour road trip.
After their week in Ganggawang, Yovi and Hendi will they will drive them back to Jakarta, which is another drive, around eight hours away from the village.
Kim and Catherine know they are in for an experience of a lifetime and are unsure what to expect.
“We are looking forward to learning more about the way of life in traditional communities and will enjoy going to the local markets, as well as the scenery of the mountains and volcanoes of Central Java, along with its very rich, fertile farmlands and winding rivers,” Kim said.
“We are also looking forward to the kind, generous and welcoming hospitality of the community of the village of Ganggawang.”
“It is about learning about the people in their own environment,” Kim said.
Catherine knows exactly how the experience will enhance her language teaching. She lived in Japan for five years and taught Japanese to Australian students but has now taken on Indonesian teaching at St Catherine’s.
“You can’t just teach words, you have to teach the culture,” Catherine said.
She added that misconceptions created barriers and misunderstandings about other cultures.
“I ask the students what they know about Bali and many of them only mention the Bali bombing, some of the students weren’t even alive when that happened but that is all they know,” Catherine said.
“The message is 12-year-olds are 12-year-olds all over the world, it is interesting when students discover they have things in common, that a girl in Bali might be a Justin Bieber fan, just like them.”
The visit will also give Kim and Catherine the chance to explore potential for future learning opportunities between the two schools.
Kim plans to extend her stay and will be a member of another group of teachers looking at other aspects of Indonesia.
She will visit the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and various government departments concerned with education and religion, tours of the old city, the new city and tourist sites.
This will be followed by a six day stop at Yogyakarta visiting the Palace of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, the Borobodur Temple, the Prambanan Temple and the villages impacted by the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano.
On a matter closer to home, Kim is particularly interested in visiting Surabaya and its mud volcano. This mud volcano is the result of a gas drilling (fracking) accident in May 2006. The high pressure of the fracking forced the boiling mud up from a depth of more than 2000 metres and it cannot be stopped and is estimated to keep flowing for more than 100 years.
“ It is the biggest natural disaster that Indonesia has ever seen and has already engulfed more than a dozen villages, a highway, a railway line and has also displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes and inundating valuable food-producing lands,” Kim said.
“Last year the Indonesian Human Rights Commission ruled this as being a corporate crime but the corporations responsible are still elusive and the Indonesian government and taxpayers are left to pay the bill of around 60 million dollars a day to manage the disaster.”
Catherine said the experience will make teaching Indonesian more authentic for her students.
“I will be teaching with more confidence, with a greater depth of knowledge, I will be able to say I know because I did it,” Catherine said.