It’s hard to put into words just how amazing Indonesia really is. Never in my life did I imagine that I would get to see, let alone teach, in a country that is so rich and culturally diverse. When I initially decided to come to Indonesia I was looking for a challenging and new experience and in the short eight weeks I have spent here I definitely have experienced a lot. Being able to work with the students and staff has been one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life! The people here are so warm, accepting, and genuinely interested in learning, exchanging ideas, and sharing their culture. As Ms. Fremont I know what it takes to create lesson plans, grade papers, and teach history, what I learned here in Indonesia was how to go beyond that and become a mentor, a supporter, an encourager, and transform into Ibu Heather.
Being in Indonesia has taught me that teaching and learning does not just happen in the school building and between the hours of 7am and 3pm. Learning occurs in the halls, late at night, on an airplane, and in the street. It also doesn’t have to always be related to your content area, being a teacher means not just being a history teacher, but being a life teacher. Getting a chance to know and interact with the students, staff, and everyday people here taught me what it really means to be passionate about education and about having a unsasiable thirst for knowledge. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do to come up to a complete stranger and have a conversation just so you can practice your language and get to know them a little better. It doesn’t matter if your Muslim or Christian to be able to look at each other’s beliefs and find the similarities and accept the differences.
What struck me the most was the harmony with which so many people are able to live and thrive on. Indonesia is unique because of its history and cultural make up. What you start to realize is that there are thousands of times more similarities than differences that draw a people together. Learning and sharing about these things is what makes life fun and interesting.
The other major thing that I learned here is that things don’t always go as planned and that is when life’s most teachable moments occur. Its okay if something doesn’t work out in the end the path that takes us there will teach us more anyway. Being here and seeing what people have to go through in their daily lives just to put food on the table and clothes on their backs was eye-opening and it is clear that the students understand just what an education can do for them. They don’t take anything for granted, if an Indonesia has barely any food to feed themselves, they don’t care they would share it with you even if it was their last gain of rice. They value the friendships, relationships, and knowledge that they gather throughout the course of their life. Even if you don’t think you have an impact or aren’t teaching anything you are. Just by getting involved, sharing ideas, and being curious enough to ask questions and dig deeper demonstrates just how much you care.
I know that when I came to Indonesia I bought with me a whole lot of Ms. Fremont, returning back to the United States I know I am a very different person and educator. I now can talk to my students about what different cultures are like. I can share with them the histories of a part of the world most people in the United States don’t even know about let alone have the ability to find on a map. I now have the opportunity and skills to open up many more doors for my students to explore and discover new and different regions, foods, histories, cultures, and people. Beyond that I know what it truly means to motivate and challenge students to do their best and to mentor them along the way so that they will be successful later on in life. In the end being Ms. Fremont was just the beginning, transforming into Ibu Heather and bring her into my future classrooms will help me be more than just a history teacher or just a government teacher, it will help me strive to be a life teacher.