Here I am with a new story out of one of our libraries. This one is from Paka, a small village two hours from the next bigger city Ruteng. It is pretty hard to reach if you compare it with Melo or Roe, which one can reach within an hour from Labuan Bajo, but Paka is still at one of the better roads in Flores. It is actually on the road from Ruteng to Iteng at the ocean and therefore, Paka is also not too far away from the sea.
I can call this place my “temporary home” for almost two weeks now and I feel quiet comfortable. The library is really nice, the school has many cool kids, my host family is very kind, the weather is sunny and I am really busy. I go to the school every day to teach English and sports in rotation, each for four hours in 4th and 5th grade.
I was surprised that the kids already have some English skills, due to the fact that they had some English lessons with a local teacher before. Therefore, it’s easier for me to teach them than it would be without any existing knowledge. But still, teaching English in elementary school needs a lot of patience and revision. It is a real challenge, especially if you have to teach 60 kids at once! That was what I got confronted with in my first lessons in Paka.
There are many kids and not enough classrooms for smaller classes and that is why the two 5th and 4th grades have to share a room, which is definitely too small and not a nice situation. Nevertheless, I tried to teach them all at once but had to admit defeat soon and looked for a solution with the schools headmaster.
Luckily, we found a solution after a short talk. I still teach all four classes, but now separated from each other and in rotation. Every class still has at least four lessons every week and I can concentrate myself on fewer students every time I enter the classroom.
The sports class actually turned out to be more difficult than the English class, since it’s so hard to keep an eye on every child and they are not really used to structured sports. You can maybe imagine how it is, the boys just want to play football and the girls mostly volleyball. I did my best to teach them other games but they won’t really listen to me, always glancing at the football and the improvised volleyball, which is actually a plastic ball.
Due to that, I changed my strategy and teach the boys some football tactics as well as exercises and the girls volleyball as best as I can. We only have one proper ball, which I brought from Germany, and lack in mostly everything from shoes to goals but we have a lot of fun and that’s all what counts when it comes to an end.
I also already spent a lot of time in our library, which is a part of the school library. My first job was to organize the books into a proper system. Every book got a small sign which shows its category. We have six categories: Indonesian storybooks, English books, bilingual books, science books, magazines and comics. This should provide an easier choice for the kids when they have to decide which book they want to read and it helps to keep the books in order.
To push this to a limit, I also organized a new and nice bookshelf to store all our books together and not mixed with the school books, a “pelangi shelf”. The kids really like their new shelf and get along with the system quite well, as far as I can judge from our activities.
We already made some storytelling and drawing after the school. This time, I tried to make them draw a small picture about the book that they have read as a guideline to tell the story. It was a little bit hard in the beginning but improved after I have given an example of my own.
That’s it for now, I’ll provide you with some new stories soon!