Today we had the enormous honor of meeting the Dean and her Education Department at the Atmajaya University. The dean spoke to us about the the Indonesian education structure, along with the processes of becoming a teacher in the country. There were faculty members, school administrators, teachers and new teachers. There were fascinating exchanges about the differing educational systems between our two countries, and why we all became teachers. It was all so heartwarming to hear how we all want to make education better for all our students.
One of the most inspiring part of the meeting was hearing this new teacher, Aditya Pradipta Wardhana, reflect on his past education and how it will affect his pedagogy in his classroom. I will not elaborate too much more, as he was so articulate and eloquent.
This is one of my highlights of the trip, because I love studying and preserving art. Batik is the most famous art in Indonesia, where it is fully integrated into daily fashion. Even at the schools, students are required to wear a school batik once a week.
Batik is a method of articulating a design with wax on a piece of fabric. It is layered on with a canting tool, which is a wood handle tool with a metal funnel. The funnel then has a 2 cm nib that controls the flow of the wax. The wax is drawn onto both sides of the fabric. Then the fabric is dyed, and the resisting wax is removed to reveal the drawn pattern. It could then be repeated with a differently drawn design and color dye. It was extremely hard to control the nib, as it could let out an unsightly blob of wax, ruining a more delicately sketched design.
Now I am on the hunt for the most perfect batik. I am looking for an intricate, geometrically designed piece. I worry I will not have an eye for high quality work, as there are different qualities of batik, depending on the intricacies and complexities of the design.
Learning about the built environment of a city is always the most thrilling part of my travels. We visited the Istiqial Mosque of Jarkarta, the largest religious building in the city. This is where the Indonesians leaders worship, as it is also the site of where foreign diplomats would come visit.
On the exterior, it is seemingly a brut, concrete building. It was constructed over the course of 17 years. Since completed in 1978, the building accommodates at least 50,000 people outside, and over 150,000 more in the interior. The building is massive, as it is composed of at least four levels. With wide halls and giant staircases, it moves their barefoot occupants safely and efficiently throughout the day of prayers.
The most impressive architectural features are the perforated screens throughout the building. I was always impressed with the contemporary architect Steven Holl, but these are just incredibly textured walls of the mosque. The majority of the walls are perforated for not only cooling and filtering the hot humid air, but also to allow the prayer echoes to resonate throughout the city. The prayers are led with an extensive microphone and audio system, and it beacons to all the worshipers the priorities of life.
This was my photo taken Stateside at LAX, the Los Angeles Airport, before embarking on my trip to Indonesia. I have spent the year preparing for this journey with the US State Department and IREX. I learned about the need for global education for all our students, and how to actually develop a curriculum with world perspectives that empowers them to becoming international citizens. For two weeks, I will be visiting schools in Jakarta and Padang.
A few minutes before I had the photo taken above, I realized I was at the same terminal 21 years ago. I was actually carrying the same hiking backpack too. Through another federal fellowship program, I was preparing for my year study abroad experience in China to learn about my parents' language, cultures, and histories. It was a life changing trip, as it helped me articulate my identity as an American, and more importantly, as a complex, Chinese American that also could understand the native Chinese perspectives. It gave me the skills to discern and understand global identities. Anyway, so I was a global student then, and here I am 42 years years old, ready to be a global student again. I know it will change me, and I am ready.