As October comes to a close, it’s time for celebration. I’m celebrating nearly two months in Indonesia and the close of my first full unit with my first graders. I’m celebrating some personal triumphs and some professional triumphs and I’m even celebrating the difficult times that I’ve had as a TEFL teacher here thus far—because it’s true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
This weekend some of my fellow expat teachers, from the Filipino community, invited me to a party that celebrated the coming of family from the Philippines to our compound. The Filipino expatriate community is fairly large and very close. They celebrate together on nearly a weekly basis and always are there for each other like a family. On Saturday I got to experience being a part of this very happy and welcoming family by partaking in a feast of a potluck! I arrived to find a whole pig wrapped in banana leaves, it was quite incredible. I was also met with open arms, welcoming conversations and more smiles than I could have hoped for. It was a night of happy indulgence to be had by all and a wonderful break from the monotony of my solitary weekends.
Today the celebrating continued in my classroom. We had a two hour Halloween celebration that included all kinds of games, English puzzles and crafts. The kids even got to go trick-or-treating and put on costumes if they had them. It was a great morning of smiles, fun and even a little learning was snuck into the mix. It was also a big success for me because I planned the entire event, all the way down to assigning groups to incorporate students from both classes in order to build a little camaraderie between the two first grade groups.
Tonight I decided to continue to celebrate by making myself a nice little meal in honor of Dia de los Muertos. While I cannot participate as fully as I have in years past, I was still able to create a small altar thanks to the gifts of my best friends and family.
The sugar skull flute and large orange flower are the most recent additions to my traveling menagerie of spiritual and memorial trinkets, just arriving here in Sumatra a mere three days ago from one of my best friends. And they are a welcome addition to my altar this year since I was unable to buy the loads of cut flowers that I usually use to adorn my home for the holiday.
It’s all just a pleasant reminder that things really do ebb and flow and for every week where I feel like I cry more than I sing, there are weeks filled with more laughter than frowns. It seems that you just have to wait for the balance sometimes.