As ETAs, most of our work is done at our schools, independent of the rest of our cohort. However, there is one event that all of us ETAs are required to do at our schools – the WORDS competition. Every year, each ETA hosts an English speaking competition at their respective schools and then the winner from each school gets to travel to Jakarta with their ETA for a national competition against all of the other ETAs’ students. It’s an incredible opportunity for our students – many of whom have never been to Jakarta, or maybe even left their island. The competition occurs towards the end of the school year so it’s a great chance for ETAs and their students to put all their hard work into practice… writing and delivering a speech.
My kids started preparing a month ago for the competition. After announcing the competition in every class, I made a poster board and hung it in my house. For any student who signed up to participate, I would write their name on the poster. I had no idea how much this would mean to the kids… The first day, a few kids came over to work on homework and when they saw the poster and told me they wanted to participate, the look on their faces was one of shock and disbelief when I stood up and wrote their name on the poster. “Really?! You’re going to write my name on there?!” “Of course!!” “WOW, Miss! Thank you!” And it continued… every time someone came over, they saw the poster and were motivated to participate.
The theme this year is “Three Wishes: If you could change something in the world, in your city, in yourself… what would you change?” In addition to their two minute speech, students are encouraged to perform a talent – it can be anything from singing to dancing to telling riddles… And in total, each student should take no more than 5 minutes (I didn’t stick to that rule in my local competition… oops)
The week of the competition was a flurry of preparation. Tisia and I were busy printing banners, a photobooth backdrop, name tags, participant numbers, and scoring rubrics. Meanwhile, my students were finishing their speeches and working to memorize them. Every evening a handful would drop by my house for last minute corrections or pronunciation help… this is why I LOVE living at school.
The night before the competition I was as nervous as my students. I drempt I slept through the competition, I drempt the aula (auditorium) flooded (not an idle threat – it had flooded the day before, we spent the whole previous afternoon cleaning it, and then that night it started to pour again)… but Saturday morning I awoke thrilled and excited. I raced around setting up, answering last minute questions, driving in to town to pick up Carlie and print the nametags that we had forgotten to do before…
And then… my kids stole the show! We had 19 participants and every single one was so so good. I was so proud of them. We had crazy costumes, and modern dance. Traditional costumes and singing. It was one of my happiest days at SMAN 5!
In the end, the judges’ decision came down to three students – each were exceptional in their own way but they had to choose one. They eventually chose Telsy as the winner because her pronunciation was the clearest and you could easily understand her speech – in addition to her speech being entertaining and inspiring, and her talent (singing and dancing to traditional music) was beautiful! I cannot wait to bring her to Jakarta with me in a few weeks!