The spring is so much better than the fall semester as an ETA. You finally understand how things work at your school, you have routines, you know your students and are much more comfortable in the classroom, and… there are so many great things to look forward to!
In the spring, AMINEF hosts an English speech and talent competition in Jakarta called the WORDS Competition. Each ETA hosts their own local competition at their school and then the winner gets to travel with their ETA to Jakarta to compete in the national competition. My weekend in Jakarta with Telsy last year was my favorite memory of the whole year. You can read about last year’s competition at SMAN 5 here and last year’s national competition here!
We had our MAN 1 competition on March 3 after weeks of preparation. This year’s theme was “Cicak on the Wall”, a take on the English expression, “fly on the wall.” Students had to write a short speech answering, “If you were a cicak (or fly) on the wall at any point in the past, present, or future, where would you want to be? What room or place would you want to observe?”
(A “cicak” is a house lizard. There are dozens in my house. From Kate: “Sometimes they make little chirping noises…like “eya, eya, eya.” They are very fast but are friendly because they eat mosquitos and ants so we like them. They are as long as finger and green/grey/yellow in color.” Cicaks are everywhere so they were a fun, culturally relevant substitution for a “fly” on the wall 😉
Initially, this theme was a little difficult for my students to understand, but I believed in their creativity. With a few of my classes (the English language track) we worked on brainstorming ideas and topics in class. I had them come up with 9 different potential places and then helped them choose their best three (most creative!) ideas. From there, students wrote further on each topic, describing what they might hear, see, feel, think, smell, etc., there. Then, the student and I chose the best one.
Students brought me drafts of their speeches every day for weeks. It was exhausting but so worth it! I loved helping them work through the drafting process, it’s something most of them have never done before. Teachers usually assign textbook work and so students rarely get the chance to exercise their critical thinking and revision skills.
In addition to the speech, students also had to present a talent. Singing and dancing were favorites among my students. We also had students do magic tricks, taekwondo, and paint a beautiful watercolor. All in 2-3 minutes!
In addition to helping my students prepare their speeches and talents, I also had to design and get a banner printed (which ended up being the biggest banner I have ever seen in my life), prepare score sheets for the judges, design and print certificates for all the students, prepare prizes, and organize photographers and videographers… It was a busy week leading up to the competition!
The competition went off almost without a hitch! The only issue was the hour long mati lampu (black out) that started just as we were going to begin. Of course… Luckily, it only lasted an hour and everyone was patient. Shelby even led all the students in a round of the “peel the banana” song and dance while we were waiting 😀
Finally, the competition began. The topics of the speeches ran the gamut from wanting to be a “cicak on the wall” in an alien spaceship, to Heaven, to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, to her parent’s shoe store, to Edison’s workshop as he made the first lightbulb, and on and on…
My kids were fantastic! I was so incredibly proud of them! Most left the stage with gigantic smiles on their faces, so proud of what they had just accomplished. Many of the students had never given a speech in English before and they were so proud of themselves! A few left the stage in happy, relieved tears. They had been so nervous that once it was all over, their emotions just came out in the form of adorable tears. I was ready at the bottom of the stairs for each one – with a hug or a high-five.
I had three lovely judges for my competition – my sitemates Kate and Shelby as well as my Bahasa tutor and friend, Yuni. I was grateful I didn’t have to be a judge because I don’t know how I would have chosen a winner!
When all 19 students had finished, the judges huddled together and decided on the first, second and third place winners. I contributed my opinions for a few superlative awards (best talent, most improved, best pronunciation, etc) and then it was time for the announcement. As I called students up for the superlative awards they were so excited that I could hardly take it. My kiddos had worked so hard for this and it had paid off in a great competition.
Our third place finalist was Fadillah, who wrote a touching speech about wanting to be a cicak on the wall in the hosptial when her dad was sick and passed away. She beautifully sang, “Flashlight” as her talent, to round off an extremely touching performance.
Our second place finalist was Syerin (pronounced Sharon), who wrote an excellent speech on wanting to be a super cicak in a voting booth. He wanted to gather an army of super cicaks to influence the hearts and enlighten the voters to who would be best to lead the Indonesian nation.
And our winner was Elanda, an 11th grader who wrote an inspiring speech on the Indonesian heroine, Kartini. During Dutch colonialism, Kartini was taken out of school and secluded in her home, following traditional Javanese nobility customs. Kartini wanted to continue learning so taught herself at home and corresponded with Dutch friends. After her marriage, she built a school for girls before dying in childbirth. Kartini is remembered today for her passion for women’s rights and education. Elanda, as a cicak, wanted to go to the past to be in Kartini’s room and observe her as she wrote letters and educated herself. Elanda had put in a lot of work and her speech was well-thought out and passionate. It was a no-brainer for the judges as to the winner 🙂
Elanda and I head to Jakarta in just two and a half weeks! I can’t wait to show her around the big city (she has never been to Jakarta!) and treat her to a week like she’s never had before 😀