Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jakarta International HS

I'm three weeks behind in blogging and over flowing with images and notes about our trip to SE Asia. Like a series of red roofed pagodas, Jakarta Airport sits surrounded by palm leaves and blossoming trees. Another American on board shows us how to scoot through the process of purchasing visas and before we know it, we’ve cleared customs and met our hosting teachers Dianne and Kate. Finally friendly faces to put with all those emails we’ve sent over the past months. One bag has lost a wheel, but other than that we arrive in tact. We are driven to Dianne’s house where we will spend the next three days while visiting JIS High School. All told, the trip has taken us 36 hours, not enough of it sleeping.

The first night we have dinner at an elegant hotel restaurant, but I am so tired, I almost take a header into the pesto. Monday morning comes the way it does everywhere else in the world, a little too early and less rested than ideal. Michael and I perform a quick 30 minute set for 1000 HS students and then split up to visit, write, and practice performance with a series of classes.

The assembly is in a dark auditorium, the students file in laden with backpacks, and every thing is very regular from a US point of view except that prior to the show, a caretaker has taken care to line the front of the stage with draped batik and fresh flowers.

The school is a sprawling, two story building connected by brick walkways and overhanging greenery. Students gather on benches and at kiosks to socialize in between classes. The classes are relatively smail, twenty something students, every single one of whom appears to be engaged and attentive to the class – and keeping in mind these are the two days between a major sports tournament and their five day break for the Chinese New Year, this is amazing. We have a great two days and hopefully the students take away not only a poem, but the inspiration to commit more poetry to paper.

One thing I learned for sure: it is not a good plan to fly in on Sunday afternoon and committ to an assembly for 1000 HS students at 7:30AM the next morning. By the end of the day I was spinning, literally. Turn me around fast and no way could I have pinned a tail on an elephant. Thank you to librarian Dianne Salimen for all her background work to make the event a success and for bringing me chocolate to help me make it through the first day.

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