Monday, December 29, 2008

Outward Bound

Of all songs, I can't seem to get Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" out of my head- the lyrics of the chorus are all too fitting! "Here I go again on my own...(guitar riff), going down the only road I've ever known, like a drifter I was born to walk alone.."
I feel like that song needs to be playing in the JFK airport as I board the plane tomorrow, and needs to be playing once again when I arrive in Chennai a couple days from now. I've always wanted to create a soundtrack to my life: who knew that Whitesnake would be a part of that CD?
I'm writing from a hotel near the JFK airport right now. It's Sunday night, and Mom and I are resting up here before the early morning drop-off tomorrow. My flight leaves at 10:00 am, but have to arrive 3 hours early to meet the demands of international terminal logistics, etc.
Can't believe it's already been three weeks since I've been home! I suppose in some ways, the time flew by. On the other hand, it feels like months since I was last in Bali. The tan has faded, my sleep cycle has returned to almost-normal East coast time, and I was just starting to appreciate breaths of fresh, cold air. Alas, I knew that my brief stint in the states was just that: brief and temporary. I had such a good time seeing everyone (and I mean, EVERYONE!) I could have possibly seen from home. Being with the family over the holidays was great, and running into old high school friends was rather enjoyable (you never know what KHS reunions will entail). While it's hard to believe that tomorrow is "the day," I feel good and ready to get this show on the road, and see what India, Chennai, and my internship are all about!
Please read up while I'm gone, and find out how I survive my first couple days in the big city! Will I be able to navigate myself around without getting ripped off... manage to order a meal without having to look at pictures...meet some nice folks to celebrate the New Year with?
Wish me luck!!!
"In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors." - William Blake

Much love- K

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Live with Intention

It's cold and the snow is coming down hard right now in New Hampshire. The power is still out here at home, this marking the 8th day without it. Almost right after I arrived in the states a huge ice storm hit New England, forcing over a million people to lose their power. News reporters are saying it's the worst storm in New Hampshire's history. Things are slowly improving, with crews working round the clock to restore power to people's homes- but still not here! The latest report is that there are only 16 homes in West Chesterfield now that still have no power...and guess who's one of them! That's right, 295 Streeter Hill Rd. As much of an inconvenience as it is this time of year to not have power, I feel incredibly fortunate to have a generator. Loud and exhausting as it is to keep refilling with gas (thanks Dad!), we haven't actually had to move out to a shelter like so many other New England residents in search of heat and food.
Admittedly, I must confess that I initially found the situation to be quite ironic. Leaving the jungle in Bali, where power shortages are common (but rarely last more than a night), with the thought that I'd come home to a quaint, "same ol, same ol" life in NH. Just goes to show you that these things can happen anytime, anywhere, and do! All over the world.
It's ten days now and counting until I leave for India! Almost thankful to be completely snowed in today as it leaves me with time for thinking, planning, and preparing. I'm trying to immerse myself in all the research I can before I leave by frequenting India chat forums online, checking weather updates, and reading famous Indian novels. Currently I'm reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, a famous, award-winning novel set in Northern India. I know that, ultimately, I can only prepare myself so much for what I will find in Chennai before I leave. Still, though, it feels like the smart thing to do (and also satisfies my incessant curiosity) to do some preliminary research. - First thing on the agenda: find a place to stay for New Years! I'll be arriving the day before New Years Eve and won't be able to move into the dorms until January 1st. That means two days of wandering, exploring, and hopefully meeting some people to celebrate the new year with.
Ideas are always welcome!
Lastly, a huge THANK YOU to all of you supporting me and sending positive thoughts my way. No matter the solo travel, I never feel alone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surprise!

It's the time of the season for SURPRISES. :)

Spontaneously, and somewhat impulsively, I purchased a one-way ticket back to the states just two weeks ago. Alas, I'm writing from home right now in frigid and dry New Hampshire! I can barely believe how much traveling I've done since Wednesday when I left Bali. I left a beautiful and sunny Bali for a bitter cold New England, but weather isn't the only thing that's different around here. Here's a list of some changes that I've noticed right off the bat...
1) Speed limits! I can't believe how slow everyone drives around here. I've gotten so used to cruising through the back roads of Bali, weaving in and out of cars on the motorbike. There's not a speed limit sign to be found in Bali, so there's a kind of go at your own risk attitude. Not to say this is the safest way to drive, but the 50 mph regulations on Rt. 9 for example (open, paved road where you can see hundreds of yards ahead of you) feel a little extreme.

2) Driving in general. I've been driving on the left-hand side of the road for the past few months- it's been a little confusing to turn right with such ease!

3) Big, Big, and BIGGER! Everything's bigger in the states! And I mean, everything. From the over-sized SUVs to the super-sized croissants, it all feels a little unnecessary. I mean honestly, road conditions throughout most of the states are far, far better than anything you'll come across throughout the back roads in Bali. So why all the extra horsepower and size? Seems like we could get by with much smaller, more manageable vehicles.
And about the croissants: that initial observation was one I discovered at the airport in Washington D.C. In search of a snack to consume during my layover to Hartford, I found a bakery that served all sorts of delicious pastry items. But the sizes were so enormous! The croissants were nearly 3x the size of any I had seen at bakeries in Ubud.

4)Paper products. I got used to carrying around a pack of tissues wherever I would go in preparation of none available at restaurants and bathrooms. In the U.S., though, there seems to be no shortage of paper products everywhere I go! And there's a particular paper product for each different thing: paper towels for wiping counters, toilet paper (for the obvious), paper napkins for wiping your mouth after dinner...the list goes on! I wonder if one paper product could be used for all of these things?

So yeah, while I could go on and on about the changes from Bali to life here in New England, I've chosen to select just a few.

Overall, it's been really nice relaxing the past couple days at home, building fires to keep myself warm and thinking my dogs look so healthy and clean! The number of stray dogs in Bali has gotten pretty out of control, far outnumbering the amount of dogs as domesticated "pets." The dogs left abandoned on the streets are about as gangly (word?) as they get, and absolutely filthy. Don't suppose they can help it though, their diet consists of what they find in the trash cans and leftover food scraps. - The dog situation is attempting to improve, though, with organizations like Bali Dogs established to encourage people to adopt strays.

These three weeks in New England are going to fly by- I can tell already. I leave just after Christmas on December 29th. I'll be flying out of JFK airport in NYC to Chennai on Etihad Airlines. Don't know much about the airline, but if any of you who read this have flown this Middle Eastern airline carrier before, let me know! They offered a much cheaper ticket than any other airline I saw so I had to choose it...just hoping the economy cabin is pleasant enough for a 15 or so hour flight.

I'll try to put more pics up soon from Thanksgiving, and more of final travels through Bali.

Take it easy :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

villa livin




Field trips, In and Out




Uci and Oliver playing with the monkey


So once again, a lot has happened since the last time I wrote. After reading a few friends' blogs online, though, I'm feeling inspired to update you all on recent news. It's been a crazy and busy time for me these past couple weeks, with my last working day at Green School this past Thursday! Weird, huh? Hard to believe it's that time already. It's strange to think of myself arriving in Bali on August 1st for day one of teacher workshops and training. Everything was so fresh and new at that time, and the faculty so inspired and psyched to get rolling with all that was Green School!
August now seems like an eternity ago. Really, so much has changed since then! Many of the original faculty have since left, leaving what feels like a constantly evolving school structure. It's easy at this point in time for me to say that I'm no longer working at the school- that decision feels right for me. What's much harder, and hasn't really sunk in, is that I'm going to be saying goodbye to all of my colleagues, many of whom are now close friends of mine. Aside from the school's politics, GS has got a great team of people supporting the students in the classroom.
A lot went on last week at Green School. One interesting note, CNN came to visit the campus! Supposedly the Green School episode will air in a couple weeks- I'll let you all know so you can take a look! While the marketing team triumphs yet again, I couldn't help but feel like Jim Carey in the Truman Show. All the teachers got an email saying that the cows needed to be on standby, kids in 3rd grade in garden on standby, vortex up and running, etc etc. Made me feel like the whole year thus far amounted to one, five minute CNN broadcast. Cynical, I know ;)
As good timing would have it, I visited the Monkey Forest in Ubud on my very last day at school! Finally...I can't believe I never made it there last year! Monkey Forest is on the "tourist to-do list" of those who wish to check out Ubud, as it's renowned for the large, shady banyan trees and hundreds of monkeys, some of which are adorable, others quite naughty. Note: don't bring a bit of food into the forest if you're not planning on sharing it with the monkeys! Anyhow, the kids absolutely loved it (except for one, who was terrified), and it was a nice way to finish off the term.

Spent all weekend basking, basking, basking in the sun! I swear, the coast feels like a different world entirely than being up here in Sibang. I was very graciously invited to stay at the home of one of my students before I leave Bali. When I was told that a spare bungalow was available, just ten minutes or so away from the beach, I could hardly refuse! Turns out this spare bungalow was part of their villa compound, a 4 bedroom posh villa, complete with infinity pool overlooking the rice paddies, imported Javanese antique furniture, and beautiful outdoor bathrooms. Not to mention satellite television! Luxury living. Not that I need such comfort, but I must say, it was quite a treat.
I've posted some pictures of the villa, as well as pics from Thanksgiving. Oh yea! Celebrated a lovely (and quite warm) Thanksgiving and my friends' house in Ubud. My dear friend Hilary was the main caterer of the night, who cooked up nearly a dozen homemade specialties. She's an incredible cook! Some of the favorites were her pumpkin soup, banana/carrot bread, and from-scratch apple pie. Yum!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shadow play on Halloween!

video

Pics from class in reverse order, start at the bottom!


Heading back from our trip to the cows- everybody wave!
href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_rt5a1syijO0/SR_FSd1OpII/AAAAAAAAAWM/xn-kIx6Yt8g/s1600-h/img_0155.jpg">
Wes, Ni Luh and Uci, feeding the sapi (cow)

helping Holly feed the sapi our weeds from the garden

Shhhhh! Me reminding the kids to be very quiet as we approach the cows in case any of them are sleeping (if you look closely you can see Yuma enforcing this rule to the rest of the kids)

bringing the cows lunch from our garden!

weeding not only helps improve our garden but allows the cows to have lunch

what a beautiful work of art! the completed shark waste bin, hand painted by all the kids


Global Citizenship Summit, and other updates

Hi everyone! Wow- didn't realize it had been nearly a month since I last wrote! When time's not crawling around here, it flies. Sounds strange, but I think it's something about Bali, or living on an island in general, that makes time go by differently. With only two seasons a year (wet and dry), it's easy to feel confused!
So, where to start? Much has happened since the last time I updated the blog. I guess I'll begin with what's gone on most recently...this past weekend, Green School hosted the first ever "Global Citizenship Summit." Over 60 people were in attendance, most of which came from international schools from Asia, as well as all over the world. Those who weren't educators came from international development or humanitarian agencies. The purpose for the summit was to discuss Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. While both these are relatively new terms, they are becoming increasingly important in international education curriculum. The summit was a nice place to brainstorm what these concepts actually mean, how they are relevant (and necessary) to today's education, and how we can translate these ideas into our curriculum through tangible lesson plans.
The summit was a success- a couple of the workshops/speakers that I found to be the most interesting included David Begbie's poverty simulation, which kicked off the night on Friday. David is the director at Crossroads Foundation, a humanitarian/aid agency based out of Hong Kong. David discussed a particular situation that he has come across in Nepal of families who make and sell paper bags to survive. They earn far below minimum wage, and must work as fast as they can to produce a certain number of bags a day. The simulation basically involved all the participants breaking off into groups of 6 or 7. These groups became our families, and we were allocated a 5 x 5 meter tarp to sit and work on- this represented our "slum." Every family was given several sheets of newspaper and told to make as many bags as possible in 3, 10 minute time periods. After completing 10 bags, one member of the family (usually me) would go and beg to a local shopkeeper to purchase the bags. Sometimes the shopkeeper would be forgiving and sympathetic to the family's situation, but more often than not, the money provided for the bags wasn't enough to buy food for a week.
Once the ten minutes of each simulation was up, we had to count our money in hopes that we could afford food and rent for the week. If we were really lucky, we also had the option of paying for sanitation and education (by the end of the whole simulation, only one family had saved enough for education because they sold a family member). Anyways...without going into too much detail, I found the simulation to be very interesting and thought-provoking. While I was cynical of the idea at first (how can anyone living the way I do begin to understand what it feels like to live in poverty?), it really was interesting the behavior and ideas that came out of the whole thing. For example, I surprised myself at just how competitive I got when I was begging to the shopkeeper. Several other participants would run to the keeper at the same time and all of us would be begging together, doing anything we could, offering whatever we could to the keeper in order for him/her to look at our bags first and pay us. I started yelling at people, accusing them of cheating, etc. My family also stole bags from another family because we couldn't afford to buy new ones.
Of course, all of this was acting and a simulation, but it really was an interesting glimpse at the pressures of living in such a situation. (* A note: perhaps what I found most interesting was the occasional development aid representative that was acting in the simulation as well...while working tirelessly to complete the bags, every once in a while an announcement would come on from some NGO person that would offer "free sewing lessons" or something else that was totally useless to me or the rest of my family at the moment- just kind of went to show how such organizations often don't benefit the needy at all)
Yesterday, I visited a couple other interesting workshops and speakers- one of which was a presentation by two teachers from United World College in Singapore. They spoke of their "global concerns" program, which is student driven and inspired and facilitated by faculty. While Green School lacks the funding that UWC does at this point in time, they gave good ideas about how to incorporate larger global issues into the curriculum.

I didn't realize I had so much to say about the summit! If anyone has any questions about some of the other workshops I attended, or is just curious about the summit in general, feel free to email me more specifics.

In other news, my last day working at Green School will be Thursday, Nov 27. This might come as a shock to some of you, and not to others, I have thought about this decision carefully for several weeks now. While I am an avid supporter of the mission and vision of Green School, I've decided that teaching kindergarten is really not right for me. This doesn't mean that I will give up teaching entirely- in the future, I wouldn't be suprised if I ended up teaching again, maybe at another international school, but to an older age group. I will remain in Bali/Indonesia for the first few weeks of December, and then am off to India. I was offered a job in Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in Southern India which starts at the beginning of January. I couldn't be more excited for the position! I will be joining up with RIN, Rural Innovations Network, an NGO in Chennai which was started by an Ashoka fellow (if you don't know about Ashoka- check out www.ashoka.org). The position is a 3 month long internship in which i will be conducting research on social entrepreneurship. RIN is collaborating with IIT-Madras (Indian Institue of Technology, a very prestigious and well-known university) to design a college course on social entrepreneurship. For those of you who aren't familiar with that term, SE basically refers to creating innovative solutions to some of society's problems. This is similar to "socially responsible business", etc. While most of the research I do will happen in Chennai, I will also be traveling throughout the state of Tamil Nadu, as well as possibly traveling further throughout India. I'm thrilled to go to India, as I have heard many a terrific, and could I say interesting? story about it..
It will truly be a period of transition, and perhaps not as smooth as would be ideal, but I feel ready to step up to a new challenge, which I feel the job in India will be for me on a professional as well as personal level.
I won't be there for another month, but as the date nears, I'll be sure to send out my address- I'm sure a care package or letter around the holidays would be greatly appreciated! :)
All for now- I had a lot to catch up on!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Readers and Writers Festival, hot hot heat

Hi folks,
It's been a hot week here in Sibang Kaja, where the weather is turning increasingly more humid by the day. I don't know exact temperatures, but I would guess it's been in the mid-80s with full sun and humidity during the day. Thankfully, I spent most of my day in a shaded classroom!
This past week in the kindergarten we had a special event-oven building day! We're in the process of constructing a clay oven outside of the kindergarten so that we can eventually do some cooking with the kids. Pizza has been a much requested item! While workers were hired to construct the base of the oven, the kids (and some parents) spent some of Wednesday morning stomping in the mud. You'll see more of what I'm talking about once I put pictures up. Don't have the camera now, but there are some pretty adorable/ hilarious ones of ten or so kids in rubber boots, dancing in the mud.
Also this past week was the annual Ubud Readers and Writers festival. I didn't actually make it to any of the events last year at this time, but made it to several this year. It's one of the largest literary festivals in the world, with different authors, novelists, poets, and artists coming to perform and share their work. One of the teachers here at Green School, Pak Sam, performed on slam poetry night- probably the funniest thing I've seen since I've been here! He teaches grades 5+6, and after some pretty raunchy humor, it was quite amusing to find some of his students' parents in the crowd. They all had great senses of humor, though, and seemed to enjoy his antics!
I don't think I've ever seen quite so many tourists in Ubud as I have recently. I guess it's that time of year, with the festival going on, as well as the Asian Water Games (?) happening down in the Kuta beach area. I'm hoping to check out some of the water sports next weekend.
I have special visitors coming this Tuesday night...Brittany and her boyfriend, Garth! I am so psyched to see them, haven't seen Brit since New Years last year when we celebrated at her house in PA. She's been a close friend since we met in China two years ago! Since then we've both some exciting adventures. She'll be arriving here after traveling throughout Southeast Asia. I'm not sure the plans yet, but I'm hoping she'll get to see the best of the best during her week long stay.
I've been wishing I could write better about the particular things I experience in Bali everyday- those things that I've come to just accept as normal parts of my life here, but really might seem strange and unusual to someone in the states. Even the fact that chickens are roaming all over my yurt right now is, perhaps, somewhat different!
Other unique things...I guess I could call this, "you know you've lived at Green School too long when.."
- You think it perfectly normal to shoo chickens out of your kitchen.
- Flushing a toilet feels like a bizarre, foreign luxury (we use sawdust in the compost toilets)
- You carry a poncho with you on your motorbike at all times.
- You can't even imagine not owning a motorbike- essential transport when you're in the middle of a village.
- The hundreds of street dogs don't bother you anymore.
- It's normal that your shower is outdoors, and instead of having walls, has bamboo posts and plants.
- You don't even remember what it's like to drink tap water.
- Your conversations go something like, "I woke up with a scorpion on my shoulder," or, "Did you hear the snake catcher caught three poisonous ones near classroom two?"

It's strange to think there are so many things I don't even second-guess anymore. It's important to me that I stay observant, though, because some of these cultural particularities make for the most interesting stories!

All for now,
K

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yurt material







Idul Fitri holiday and Nusa Lembongan




Hey everyone!
It's Sunday afternoon and I just got back from spending the weekend away in Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the southeast coast of Bali. This week was Idul Fitri, a nationally-recognized Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. People all over Indonesia had the week off to celebrate (Green School had Wednesday-Friday off). After recovering from a quick bout of stomach upset (dairy? Indonesian? Wheat? - the verdict's still out on what caused it) I drove down to Sanur on the moto- first time I've driven the bad boy by myself for such a long distance and I'm proud to admit- no stopping to ask for directions!
The ferry ride was a relatively quick 1 ½ hour ride, upon which I met a guy named Matt from Seattle...we compared job stories. Matt: third year law school student, interning at Jakarta insurance firm, hating his life at the moment. Me: well, you know. He seemed envious of my chosen career path and we bantered back and forth...money, quality of life, job markets, bamboo...we decided that we both had it pretty good getting to spend the holiday in a place so beautiful as Bali.
Anyways arrived at NL to meet up with some of my friends and colleagues from school whom had arrived the day before. Discovered quite quickly that the island is beautiful! Actually, it reminds me a lot of the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok except that NL is much bigger. The island's comprised of two villages with a total population of roughly 7,000. Spent the couple days exploring- walked up and down the long stretches of beach, rented a bike and biked around the whole island, discovered a beautiful “golden-gate bridge” connecting to another smaller island, took a boat out to snorkel, followed my favorite fish around under water, and perhaps best of all...took a canoe through the mangroves! Man, these mangroves were absolutely incredible. We hired a guy to take us through this canal that was situated directly amongst the mangroves- the whole experience was really pretty magical. We felt like we were in some sort of fairy-tale land and imagined gnomes hopping out from behind a tree, the water beginning to burble and the roots beginning to move and talk. I'm so glad I went because I thought it was just another tourist scam but, thankfully, I stood corrected!
Needless to say, the weekend was fantastic. After returning today to Sanur, Leah and I stopped for some kelapa muda (young coconut) on the beach. This was some of the best kelapa muda I've ever had, served straight out of the coconut with a spoon and straw, you drink all the coconut water out and then scoop the inside “jelly” out with a spoon. Delicious!
Enjoy the pics from the trip- most are of NL, while others are of my yurt (aka- my home!) at Green School.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pics

Yuma painting the first letter of his name
Sasha and Ni Luh-arts expression
Erlin, Yuma, Wes getting muddy

Holly, Lila, Isara during shadow play time
Holly, Yuma, Ni Luh helping to make fresh papaya juice
Friday "cooking" class- fresh papaya juice
Ibu Nanda, me, and the class praying after Ibu Nanda brought in offerings
more fun with Ibu Nanda

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ibu Ingrid pointing out papaya trees on campus
Ibu Hillary comes for art time
Yuma on the drum!
More nature walk along campus.
Ayung River bridge (me, Ibu Susan, Isara)