Thursday, May 8, 2008

May 8, 2008

An adventure. This doesn’t even come close to describing our time in Makassar, Indonesia. There have been times when we’ve seen some beautiful beaches and sunsets and waterfalls. There have also been times when we’ve been exposed to the most astounding and unbelievable human interactions – both positive and negative. Our blogging intent has been to realistically portray our experience living in southeastern Indonesia. This week has been no exception.

This site has included stories of teacher walkouts and unreliable electricity. We’ve included stories of ceilings that have collapsed as well as inconsistent pay schedules. Our “colleagues” have been described and their characters painted in such a way as to give a glimpse of our daily work environment.

Over the last month, Peter and I have moved forward with plans to accept teaching positions in Poland and begin a masters of education program involving intensive weeks of study in Krakow.

These circumstances as well as the appalling teaching environment led us to decide to buyout of our contract at the end of May. The buyout was provided for within our contract. We gave our notice in late April and endured a week of the silent treatment.

Monday, I was fired. I was told I was the worst teacher that had ever taught at EF English First Makassar. Yes, apparently I was worse than the alcoholics and the teachers who arrived hungover or with alcohol on their breath. I was informed that by leaving and never coming back I was doing the school a favor. I left.

Peter ventured into the office of the Director of Studies, Simon Still, moments later and asked what had happened. He was told that the director didn’t like me and that I hadn’t said “hello” or “goodbye” to him during the course of the year. Apparently this is cause for dismissal. When Peter suggested the director take responsibility for the ongoing communication within the school as well as the daily work environment, Simon informed him that he did not want to take responsibility and wasn’t going to. When told he was the worst manager Peter had ever had, Simon replied, with a shrug, that’s fine with him… he was ok with that. Peter left.

Between the 2 of us, we carried a teaching load of 15 classes. The average teacher at the school had 5 classes. Yes, for being the worst teacher at the school, I was teaching twice as many classes as the head teacher – 8 to his 4. I performed evaluations and placement screenings and was considered the “young learners” expert. Not bad for being the worst teacher ever. Hmmm…

Now, as one can imagine, this is a bit of a strange and stunning experience. I am unsure if we are still in shock or if we just don’t care anymore. But we feel strangely at ease. As we wandered Makassar today walking from one favorite place to another we realized that it’s not Indonesia that has been difficult – it is EF English First Makassar.

Indonesia is full of strange and fascinating people with a complex and unique heritage. Their religious, geographic and political situations are unlike anything known in the west. These systems are difficult to comprehend. Yet, it was our western connections that made them unbearable. It was the people from the west who made our lives frustrating and difficult.

For the first time in over 8 months, I took a full breath and realized that it was not Indonesia that made me feel insecure and disrespected – it was EF English First Makassar and it’s Director of Studies, Simon J. Still, BA (as his business card desires you to note). Had he even a bit of respect for the teachers he hired, had he tried just a bit to facilitate the teacher transition into this environment, our experience would have been very different.

And so, we are looking forward to our remaining month in Indonesia with the expectation that we will come away from the experience with much more positive energy now that we have severed our ties with the western institution housing the distracting and negative individuals who have tried to color our experience with their insecurities and disillusionments. We can begin to appreciate the true nature of the culture… We’ll let you know how it goes. ☺

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