Thursday, August 28, 2008

Almost School

Hi everyone! I have been getting some nice feedback recently about those of you who are reading the blog- so thank you!
We’ve all been really busy here at the school preparing for school to start on Monday. My team of teachers and I have been calling parents, getting school supplies, trying to make sure the classroom is ready (enough), and attending workshops. By this point in time I’ve realized that the faculty and staff should have arrived several months ago to prepare for this big "experiment." Really, a month to design an entirely new curriculum is quite the task! Actually, this is something I’ve been meaning to ask Mom, a fellow school teacher. How long did it take to design your CSI course? Imagine that, but then designing the rest of the curriculum for grades K-8 in less than 30 days time!
Despite all the last minute hassles, I feel extremely lucky to have this opportunity to create the type of school I believe in. Susan, Ingrid, and I have asked for complete autonomy in the way we run our classroom- and we’ve been granted it! We’ve designed the daily schedule, and we’re going to write some of our own songs and stories to reflect the themes of the month. We have plans for all sorts of special guests to come into the class to demonstrate their expertise for the students. First week will be Chakra, the permaculturalist on campus, who will garden with the students around the classroom. We want to get the gardens going as soon as possible so the kids know where their food is coming from! You won’t see any canned food or supermarket logos around this campus. Second week we’re going to have Kristin come in, the German toy-maker whose working with Green School for a month before she returns to Germany. She’s an expert in making toys out of bamboo. Besides being a great expirience for teachers who really want to design their own classroom space, it really is even better for the students who will arrive next week- they get to build their own toys, plant their own food,…they are really the ones who will ultimately shape the Green School path for the future. Pretty lucky kids if you ask me!
Will be busy this weekend with celebrations, holidays, and extra prep work.. Tomorrow night "the villagers" are hosting a pot-luck for one of our colleagues who will be leaving Green School next week. I plan on making a big bowl of guacamole! There will also be some cooking involved..just hope the electricity holds up for us! Saturday is Kuningan here in Bali- a very important holiday held every 220 days. Between Galungan and Kuningan is the time that Balinese believe their ancestors are released into the physical world. The temple ceremony I went to last weekend was really an incredible experience and I hope to visit a temple again this Saturday with some Balinese friends. This time I need to get appropriate temple clothing beforehand! (I was casually dressed in a t-shirt and sarong last night- not exactly "beautiful")
I’ll do my best to put some pics up after this weekend, and of course when the kids arrive!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My morning ...

The walk started out beautiful...
Near the beginning part of the subak.

Oh look, a flower garden. Wish the camera could capture how bright and violet they are.

Hello Neighbors.

He gets to play (and work) in the mud all day.

Village boys- Hang ten.

This is why we're told not to swim right in the river. I found this at the very end of my otherwise beautiful hike. A sad sight indeed.

My first encounter with a monkey hunter in the jungle. I politely asked him not to shoot me.

More monkey hunters in the jungle.

Pics from Campus!

Me in Green School's finest swimming hole- "almost paradise"
Natural spring-fed swimming pool on campus! One giant swimming lane.


Center of classroom and ceiling (my favorite part is the skylight!)

Future classroom! Pre-K and K classroom. Believe it or not, this is supposed to be ready in one week! Here's some of the furniture (all bamboo designs) in the center of the classroom.

Glenn's tent.

Future home! Yurt under construction

Kitchen appliances out in the open.

Outdoor kitchen, in progress.

Signs such as these are placed in the bathrooms- just for clarification.

Compost toilets, take your pick.

Sudah mandi? This is what our showers look like- outdoor and bamboo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Independence Day and Galungan


So I wrote a nice long story about how fabulous my day was yesterday- and it was all deleted!

I'll try to summarize.

Awoke yesterday morning and embarked on a nice 1 1/2 hour hike through the countryside. Left campus and followed a dirt path through the jungle. Walked along a river and saw..

A woman bathing, and washing an assortment of rainbow-colored clothes. A couple young guys fishing. A man who offered me fresh wild strawberries. Some kids trying to untangle their kite from a bamboo tree. Small stone caves with intricate carvings.

And then! All of the sudden I heard the trees above me thashing violently. Stopped in my tracks and after a few minutes, realized what all the comotion was about. There were monkeys everywhere! I stopped and watched a monkey perched on a rock across the river eat out of an offering basket (offerings are what the Balinese Hindus give to their ancestors and the gods). He kept looking around to make sure no other monkeys would come near his food. It was an incredible sight! I had never seen wild monkeys in Bali before- so you can imagine I was pretty excited!

Later that afternoon, I was walking across campus and arrived at the office. Nearby the office I spotted several people kneeling over somethign on the ground. I walked over and saw a momma goat give birth to two baby goats! Incredible! The goats were adorable (dirty, etc) but really amazing!

So long story short, a day full of unfamiliar and new things. A nice way to reaffirm me of why I'm here!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pics from Mempantigan Performance (property of Glenn Chickering)

Mempantigan- Balinese mud wrestling, martial arts, dance, drama. Held on Green School's campus
We are no longer on Earth-a prosective student.

Man at Mempantigan performance

Teacher Glenn titles this picture "Soon to be home!" This is the yurt structure I'll be moving into (once the floor and walls arrive)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My favorite little Made on campus! (photographed by Daniel)
Taken by my buddy Daniel (and he's Green School's finest photographer)

view of campus from top of tower- palm trees, blue skies, and lots of construction!

pig pen on campus

picture of Kul-Kul bridge on campus, dividing the Ayung River

Green School

Hi folks-

So haven't written in a while, been swamped with schoolwork. It's crazy to think there's just two weeks left to get everything underway with the school! Have been crammed, but managed to escape away last weekend to an incredible beach in Balangan (located in Southern Bali). Arrived at the beach after a grueling motorbike ride and stumbled upon a gorgeous white sand beach and bright blue water. The sand itself was different than other beaches I'd been to in Bali, almost looked like couscous! Soaked up the sun, strolled along the beach, and made the best of my first weekend out of school.
Green School has been one transformation after another. Mind you, classrooms are still being built, staff is still being hired, supplies ordered, curriculum being get the idea. Needless to say, has been a very busy time ever since arriving at the school. I'm absolutely loving my teaching team, Susan and Ingrid. We've been brainstorming like crazy, coming up with creative activities, songs and dances, cooking projects, etc for the little ones...if any one has any good ideas for creative and fun activities to do with 4-6 year olds, please let me know!
So far we know we're going to have a drama center in the classroom, complete with costumes, a weaving/sewing/beading center (kid-friendly sew materials!) where they can make their own pillows to sit on during class (no chairs, just floor pillows!), a play kitchen, shadow puppet center (complete with Susan and her husband Susiawan's home-made shadow puppet screen and puppets), art center with paints, crayons, etc...We're going to utilize our "jungle location" as much as possible by surrounding the classroom with gardens that the kids themselves will help out with.
Hopefully the next time I write I'll be living in my yurt! The new yurts are under construction but they're supposed to be equipped with bamboo floors, mosquito net, and furniture by the time I move in. Will post pictures once they're finished! In the meantime, just staying patient for everything to come together.
Have a three-day weekend coming up due to Indonesian Independence Day this coming Monday. Looking forward to spending the weekend relaxing, reading up on curriculum material, and hopefully getting a massage! Can't go wrong with a $5 hour-long massage.
By the way, if anyone would like a postcard, send me your address!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Location: Green School at Kul-Kul Campus

Well everyone, feels like forever since I had a moment to sit down and breathe, let alone type up my blog on the computer...really I guess it's only been a couple days. Arrived in Bali Friday night and went to straight to a losman (small hotel/homestay) in Legian, located in Southern Bali. Met some people on the plane that wanted to go to the same place so we split the taxi and arrived 20 mins later. From one minute to the next, I started bargaining in Bahasa Indonesia for the cab ride- to my surprise, Bahasa came back to me sooner than I had expected!
Went out to dinner with my new Australian surfer friend from the plane, and had a pretty early night. Saturday spent most of the day on the beach- a much needed day of R+R! It's been beautiful weather ever since I've arrived, and actually cooler than expected. Saturday night went out with Woody and his friends (a friend of mine that I met through my SIT program in the fall). Has really been awesome to jump right back into the Bali experience- ride around on motorcycles, eat nasi goreng and tofu sate, speak Bahasa, and never leave anywhere without my flip-flops!
After my initial days of R+R, I have since arrived at Green School in Sibang Kaja, Bali- located in between Ubud and Denpasar. It feels incredible to be here and I can't express enough how excited I am for the year to come. There is certainly a ton of work to be done- seeing as how it's a brand new school there are lots of kinks that need to be worked out. (New teachers have no housing, no water, and no kitchen to name a few!) Ha! Yes, Brad wasn't lying when he said that a positive attitude and good sense of humor would be key elements to get us all through these first few weeks. Really, though, the atmosphere here is great and the staff and faculty make the place that much more incredible. My fellow new teachers are all great and we've spoken a lot about our needs/wants for the rest of the year. Turns out we'll all be living in bamboo yurts (most of which still need to be constructed), and we have a shared common/kitchen space. Kitchen is underway (counters, stove, etc will be built soon), and we're hoping to get a big bread oven in the near future as well!
The campus is located on two different sides of the Ayung River. Above the river is a natural swimming pool, and there's rice fields and gardens that run through the entire campus. A vortex hydro-power generator for electicity is in the works, as is an organic chocolate factory. Had no running water this morning in the bathrooms so I bathed in the river!
It's going to be an on-going adventure this next year but a very welcomed one. Meetings already have involved talking about everything from health and safety, to food concerns, to what to do if we get bit by a scorpion on the toilet! No joke- supposedly a few scorpions have been found underneath the compost toilet lids. Mom, want to visit?
But aside from all the stresses and slight inconveninces of "school meets jungle" life (poisonous snakes, scorpions, and water-borne diseases to name a few), the area is rich and vibrant in culture and art and fresh, new ideas from truly inspired/inspiring individuals.
All for now- Brad, the director at Green School, has invited the staff over to his house tonight for pizza, beer, movie, and massages! A local masseuse is coming in to treat us to massages, manis/pedis. A nice reward at the end of a somewhat hectic day!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kualu Lumpur!

Hey all! Writing from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport right now in Malaysia. Just arrived about a half hour ago...still alive after these grueling past few days of travel! As for the Bali itinerary, 16 hours down, about 5 more to go! Thought I'd write seeing as how I stumbled upon some free internet access in the airport. Wish I had a camera with me because the airport itself is beautiful!'s amazing going from Hong Kong-> LAX->Taipei>Kuala Lumpur...the differences in each airport are pretty incredible. I didn't expect this airport to be quite so nice, but it looks brand new, and is complete with several Western favorites, such as Starbucks and Sbarro's. I just dipped in a Malaysian looking restaurant and feasted on fish curry and Japanese fried tofu, complete with a HUGE portion of plain rice. Delicious! Man, it really was quite a treat to eat something other than plane food. That stuff gets pretty gross after awhile! (Although I've been overall pleased with my experience on Malaysian was even better than Cathay! Vegetable curry with saffron rice. yum ;)
Started eating my meal this afternoon with chopsticks and then decided I might as well go ahead and practice the Balinese way, using a fork and spoon (but with my right, and not my left hand). Got to practice my Bahasa Indonesia at the airport with several people whom have been surprised I can speak. Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia are very similar, and usually understood between each other.
Met several very friendly Malaysians on the plane who gave me business cards, etc, and invited me to visit their homes in Kualu Lumpur over Christmas break- I just might take them up on their offer!
Anyways, despite feeling tired and in need of a shower, I'm feeling good, and really excited to return to Bali. The food, Bahasa, heat and atmosphere are already calling my name!
PS- feels slightly weird to fly for this long across the world with a one-way ticket, knowing no one will pick me up at the airport! Invigorating, too, though..and have no fear parents, I've spoken with the director at Green School and we've arranged to have Pak Gusti, the driver for the school, pick me up at 3:00 on Sunday, along with another New Teacher whose arriving at this time. Until then, some much needed R+R on the beach!