We got the most extraordinary welcome from SMKN 5 Padang. The high school students gave us a traditional Minang dance, song, and music performance. The choreography of the whole performance was exquisite. We even learned parts of the dance and instruments later, and both were very difficult.
This was a special day. Regan Moore, Linda Tanini, and I arrived at Padang, West Sumatra. This is our special assignment in Indonesia. We arrived after a brief flight from Jakarta, and we were welcomed by Yulia Sari and Ronal Fujianto. Yulia is our host teacher for our stay, and she is the vice principal at SMK N 5 Padang. She is one of the most generous, smart, and genuine person I have ever met in my life. Ronal is the mechanics teacher at the school, and he drove us all over West Sumatra. He felt very insecure about his English speaking skills, but he has a shining personality.
Yulia and Ronal gave us a wonderful introductory tour to Padang. They took us to the beach, and it was so exciting to learn about the geography of the place. The beaches are lovely, and it was so exciting to learn how close we were to other countries.
Just outside of Jakarta, our TGC cohort went to visit a public elementary school named SDN Johar Baru 10. The entire school, along with their mothers and community gave us a spectacular welcome, classroom tours, and then a grand closing ceremony. The grand gestures, along with their modest statements from the principal like, "I wish we could give you better," were so heartfelt and generous. The students entertained us with their martial arts, music, and performance skills. They also fed us some very tasty fruits and snacks.
When we toured the classrooms, the students and teachers seemed genuinely happy. Obviously, we had a language barrier, but it was evident that this was a joyful and positive environment. We were told that they had significant high scores, and I would believe the positive culture and extracurricular activities help build up a strong student community.
This was a delightful visit to a private high school, where there are students in the tourism and retail pathway. The students are articulate in their English language skills. They prepared a wonderful presentation of local snacks and foods. We also had the opportunity to visit their student run store.
So my guiding questions for this trip were the following: 1. What is your dream? 2. What and who do you need to achieve those dreams? 3. What and who will keep you from achieving these dreams? So I began interviewing some of the students these questions. Many of them are very ambitious, and believe that they can achieve them with their family and self-confidence.
Being of Chinese descent myself, I find it fascinating to meet other Chinese people around the world. I met a number of Chinese students at this school, and it was neat to learn about their lives and family histories in Indonesia.
This school was very musical. The students prepared a lovely opening ceremony with song. Then we were able to tour some of the music rooms, where we tinkered with drums and wind instruments. It was so much fun!