Well I did it… I just finished the end of my time in Borneo. I left today with a beautiful send off by my colleagues and friends who escorted me to the airport. It was tearful as I know it will be quite some time before I see these people again but we all agreed that we weren't going to say "goodbye" but rather "see you later."
This last week was a love fest. My students showered me with praise, the faculty and administrative staff of IAIN had an official going away ceremony including the full gamut: microphones, opening ceremony closing with prayer and a bounty of gifts that made me feel so humble. I also did my best to do a bilingual speech, English, Bahasa Indonesia, and a smattering of Banjarese which made everyone giggle with pride. Of course I had help in writing it.
I was also given a party in my honor by the PPB crew (language department). They had great food, many photos were taken and I got a chance to say goodbye to the wonderful young and vibrant group of teachers whom I'd been working with this term; observing their classes and leading teaching strategy workshops.
Yesterday I was 'kidnapped' by my students. They took me and Puji to Batakan beach which was about a 3 hour ride from Banjarmasin, near Pelaihari. This was a fun place, a popular holiday spot for the locals with 15 min klotok boat rides that take you to a little island called Pulau Datu, or island of the ancestors. It has a grave yard, short hiking trails and big bolder rocks jutting out of the sea that the students were excited to climb all over as if they were conquering the world. Some rocks offered perfect perches for fishermen patiently waiting for dinner to nibble on whatever was tethered to the tip of their long bamboo fishing poles. Fishing boats bobbed in the distance as well and here the water was a milky turquoise unlike back on the beach which had the churned up color of coffee and cream.
Once back on the beach we ate lunch, chatted, and I took tons of photos of the many things that are constantly going on there. Young boys on ponies race up and down the beach and I was told they probably offer rides to people for a small fee. You can also hire a pony driven cart to take you around the beach and I saw many a family pile in and tour around. Goats wander around eating leftovers and rubbish left behind on the beach and cows were seen wandering in between the groups of people gathered on various tarps spread between the pine trees that offer much appreciated shade from the equatorial sun.
These kids were an amazing group. I loved their enthusiasm all semester. I had them do things they never even heard of. They diligently turned in 8 or more listening logs that catalogued things they listened to that was in English, citing new vocabulary and their opinions. I showed media on global issues and I had them do lots of talking in a class that was only labeled as "Listening." I will miss them.
I am now in Surabaya, Ea. Java. I volunteered for one last presentation on Academic Writing which will go on for tomorrow and the next day. After that Vacation! I will keep blogging even though I will not be in Borneo; my experiences from this journey are far from done.