28 June 2010

CrAsia, je t'aime

Last Wednesday, I taught the last section of my Business 1 course, which also may or may not have been my last class ever in Indonesia.  You would think that at this point, eleven months in to my stint here and with only two weeks left, that my schedule would be solidified enough for me to have a clear idea of when my last class is.  But if you thought such a thing, you would be mistaken -- because, of course, this is Indonesia.  Earlier this spring I spent a few months designing a brand-new writing course with another teacher in my office, which my boss originally wanted to get enrolled and underway by the beginning of May.  The beginning of May came and went, however, with no students enrolled and no immediate signs that this course would come to fruition.  The middle of May came and went, and then the end, and each week I was informed that they were still getting students enrolled but that the course would begin "next week."  When I came back to the office last Monday after a week off for my Sumatran vacation with Isaiah, I was told that, finally, the course would begin next week (i.e. this week).  But when I checked again with my boss on Wednesday, she said that the students in the course had been scheduled to go to Bali for some conference, and therefore the course would start the following week -- which is next week, and also my last week in Indonesia.  Why the fact that the students would be unavailable to begin the course this week was known last Wednesday, but not two days earlier on Monday, is still unclear -- but the moral of the story is that the course will begin next week.  For real this time.  Maybe.

Part of me can't help feeling frustrated at this lack of organization and ever-changing schedule, because not knowing what my commitments at work will be means I can't commit to anything else -- like a one-last-fling beach vacation in West Java with Luna during my last week, for example, which we tentatively planned and then had to cancel because in case this course really does start, I will have to be here.  But part of me (the part with a sense of humor) recognizes that this scattered, amorphous, wildly flexible sense of planning and schedules is truly Indonesia, and while I can't say I'll miss it when I go back to the States, it does seem a fitting way to wrap up my year in a place where time is rubber and expectations are a joke.  Welcome to crAsia, one more time.

And anyway, if this new writing course never materializes and last Wednesday with my Business 1 students was indeed the last class I'll teach in Indonesia, I'm kind of glad I didn't know.  If I had, I probably would have felt some weird pressure to make it "count," but the truth is, it counted anyway.  I had to give each of them an individual oral final exam, but before that I gathered all seven of them into the classroom so I could hand out the cookies I'd gotten for them in Sumatra, and give a sappy farewell speech about how much I had enjoyed teaching them through two sessions, how much their English had improved, and how I wished them the best in their continued studies.  They, in turn, presented me with a gift box, which included a small wooden statue of a wayang puppet, a traditional Javanese cap, two pairs of earrings, and a t-shirt which read "Jogja: live in my heart."  The best part, though, was the note at the bottom of the box, which said: "Fiona, thanks a lot ... For Everything that you've done for us ... Hopefully, you always remember Indonesia which is Yogyakarta.  Good luck in your carrer.  God Bless You --" and was signed by all seven of them, complete with three hearts at the bottom.

Then I gave them their oral exams.  I can't really think of a nicer, normal yet special maybe-last-class than that.  I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but it's the truth -- my students rock.  And as I move onward with my "carrer," if I meet anyone half as cool as all of them along the way, I'll be golden.

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