Saturday, December 15, 2007

Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) is an integral part of my present school. In particular, Service is an important aspect where students from year 7 onwards are required to do something in the local community. For the past four years, students have been visiting local schools, usually on a Saturday and helping in the classrooms, teaching English, helping with other subjects and generally trying to brighten up the children's lives.

It's been a wonderful project, our students have thrown themselves into it with enthusiasm. The students come from protected backgrounds, and as such, are rarely if ever, given the opportunity to engage with the local villagers etc. It has given them the opportunity to rethink who they are in relation to their community, and see first hand the difficulties experienced by the poorer classes.

Some might be skeptical and think students from privileged backgrounds like ours would be reluctant, or condescending, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, they have engaged with the local children and demonstrated through their actions the values of the student attitudes and student learner profile in abundance.

Attitudes such as respect, integrity, tolerance, creativity and cooperation are all in evidence as the students help and play with the children. The students learner profile expects students to be principled, risk takers, inquirers, caring, communicators and so on. Again, these attributes are developed and demonstrated.

CAS becomes a part of a students life through real and proactive action. They are expected to organise, act then reflect. Over the years you get to see the differences in the students. Whereas once they might be seen as self involved and living within a narrow paradigm, they begin to branch out and see the world about them.

Our senior classes this year have started a project in the inner city for street kids, cooking up meals at school, packaging them, then delivering the food to a kids drop in centre. While still in its early phase, already ideas are being floated about something more substantial such an independent soup kitchen run by locals with the help of the students on a daily basis, a community library, educational classes to entice the kids back to school and so on.

If you are reading this and wondering if CAS is a good thing for your school, all I can say is go for it. The students will need support for the first year or two until it becomes part of the school culture, then as they get older it is possible to let the students takeover and design their own programs.

The sky is the limit!


Some pictures I took this morning. It was a lovely start to the day, cool and fresh.
I liked the green one as it has a certain clarity about it that captured, for me at least, the essence of the morning. The rose had only recently unfurled, and its delicate shades of colour are lovely.
Click the pics to get a better view.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

The weekend

Saturday and we are getting ourselves sorted for the day. The children will be going to swimming lessons soon, while I have to venture into town and do some banking and so on. Good thing about banks here, they are open on a Saturday till 1pm, which makes life that bit easier. Then have to go pay for the airfare to Sydney, it’ll be good to see family again and then it’s the job fair for a hopefully interesting (read successful!), experience.

Had a good time last night. Went to a local sushi place with a group of friends and tried a mixed bag of fusion rolls etc, then across to the ‘pool bar’ an outdoor venue for coffees (named for being situated outside the local public swimming pool), before ending up at a local pool hall for a few games.

Gwalk, a street not far from our house, is an amazing road filled with restaurants and food stalls. At night it comes alive and the street is packed with cars and pedestrians wandering around looking at all on offer.

Alongside the road the sidewalk has been extended a number of metres so that food stalls can setup outside their respective restaurants or indeed just setup as stand alones. Most people here love to eat outside, and the explosion in customer numbers means that more and more places are opening up further down the street. So much so that parking is becoming a bit of a problem. I think the town planners really didn’t expect it to take off as much as it has. Talk to most people in Surabaya and Gwalk is listed as a favourite place to dine out.

The restaurants have become increasingly modern, with an eclectic mix of menus on offer ranging from the humble noodle dishes to the more exotic dishes such as roasted quail, ‘drunken duck’ and so on. Where once it was difficult to get a beer or a glass of wine, most of the modern joints will offer alcohol while the more traditional places have the traditional beverages such as “es cendol” etc listed.

So, you wander along, dodging cars and motorbikes that are trying to squeeze down the congested street, looking at all the setups and try to pick something different. Wherever there is a large group of people always seems a safe bet, and you are usually not disappointed. It’s quite a sight at night with lights festooned across and along the street, the hum of people, the loud barps of motorbikes whizzing past the crawling cars, and crowds everywhere. Waiters and waitresses stand outside each stall and as you walk past they try to catch your eye and gesture you inside their pavilion for a feed, accompanied by a polite “selamat malam , makanannya …” and then they quickly reel off the main dishes. Have to hand it to them, it must get a bit tiring trying to get people in, but they do it with a smile and easy nod if you pass them by.

Sights and smells are wonderful. Here there will be a huge wok over an enormous flame, a sweating man throwing noodles or rice around with practised ease, there a satay seller with the delicious scent of roasting beef and chicken wafting past. Further along a chicken specialist will be turning out fried bits and pieces, further along again a clash of pots and pans producing what looks like exotic Chinese dishes.

Last night we had already chosen the resto ‘hachi hachi’ before we went out, it’s been some time since we had tried it and thought it deserved a revisit. The food was great, the beer cold, and the service quick and easy. They serve both inside and outside, with a large decking built out onto the sidewalk. The chairs are clustered around small tables and there is the constant movement of people wandering in and out.

Prices are incredibly cheap. Last night for a group of 8 eating their fill, plus the drinks etc, the bill came to about US6.00 per head. Obviously you can eat for a lot cheaper than this if you go to the setups that cook outside. A plate of delicious fried noodles with chicken etc will set you back about US1.50.

It was getting late but some of the group spied a pool hall downaways and decided to give it a shot. Inside we found a few tables and a small group of people playing. They soon made us very welcome, and we hit the balls around a few times before calling it a night.

Tomorrow is the Surabaya triathlon, which should make for a good turn out of expats in the area. I’m not competing, should be I suppose, but haven’t spent nearly enough time on the bike, in the pool or running to make a good go of it. Have been hitting the gym instead! So Sunday will be spent cheering the contestants on and helping out. Not sure at this stage how many people are competing but most of the mob that went in the Bali triathlon will be there, so it should be a good day.

Next week is the highlight of the year, the annual xmas ball, held at the Shangrila. Have to get the suit dusted off and pull out the dancing shoes! This is always a good night where the whole expat community in sby turns out for a great shindig. You meet people who you’ve never seen before, renew acquaintances and get together with friends. It’s a big thing here in sby. Everyone who is anyone turns up, dressed to the nines, lots of cheek pressing etc. An auction to raise money for charity, choir, and then a band or two. Our school usually supplies the student string section for light music for the early part of the evening before the bigger headline acts come on. The kids are great, they play beautifully, and facing such a large crowd they don’t seem to suffer any nerves.

Hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, the year has gone so fast.


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