We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
AUA Director Ben Orbach is now in Indonesia visiting schools and NGOs that will take part in AUA’s 2013 Summer Service program. Ben and Dr. Tahir Shad of AUA’s Advisory Board got a warm welcome this week at the Sekolah Sukma Bangsa school, which was founded to help children affected by the 2004 tsunami and political conflicts in Aceh. Some of the summer placements are profiled below the gallery.
After a morning assembly where three groups of students (of different ages) performed traditional Acehnese welcoming dances, the Sekolah Sukma Bangsa school held a town hall where students asked me and CL Board Member Tahir Shad questions in English about our lives in America, the Unofficial Ambassadors program, and our personal backgrounds and experience.
Students were particularly interested in our favorite foods and music, information about our respective hometowns, and the inspirational figures who influenced our lives. It was an ideal opportunity for me to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Primanti brothers-French fry stuffed sandwiches. My penance for preaching Pittsburgh was that I had to sing the national anthem, which is really hard to do well by yourself; Tahir didn’t help and it was so bad that these ultra-polite students could barely clap.
The kids and faculty at the school were great — so enthusiastic, friendly, and welcoming. The Sekolah Sukma Bangsa school is one of three schools that was established for tsunami victims as well as the victims of Aceh’s conflict. This school in Pidie has more than 300 students from elementary school to high school and is located about 2 hours from Banda Aceh in a setting of idyllic rice fields that look something like a national geographic shoot. America’s Unofficial Ambassadors will be sending volunteers to the Pidie school to teach English for four months starting at the end of August, and the Pidie school will also be a partner in Creative Learning’s 2013 School 2 School program.
Here’s a list of just some of the education placements in AUA’s Summer Service program:
The Mualimin Boys School: This school in Yogyjakarta was founded in 1920 and has 1150 students and 89 full-time teachers. Students at the school learn English, Arabic, Indonesia’s national curriculum, and Koranic studies. All students at the Mualimin Schools live on campus in dormitories. The school has a “multilingual” program of six classes (30 students per class) where students learn in English and Indonesian, similar to a bilingual program in the United States. There are 180 junior high school and high school students in the program.
This summer, two Unofficial Ambassadors will volunteer as full-time conversational English teachers, supporting the school’s six English teachers. In a special session that the school will convene during the school’s regularly scheduled vacation and the start of Ramadan, these volunteers will be embedded in classrooms and assist the school’s teachers with formal classes as well as lead extracurricular activities and work individually with students who seek to improve their English proficiency. The school’s leadership is incredibly enthusiastic about offering their students this session and hosting Americans in their school for the first time.
Mualimat Girls School: A sister school of the Mualimin Boys School, this all girls school was also founded in 1920 and has 1068 students and 69 teachers. It is similar in structure to the boys school, with students at the school learn English, Arabic, Indonesia’s national curriculum, and Koranic studies. 95 percent of the students live on campus in dormitories. The Mualimat school also has a “multilingual” program of six classes, with 40 students per class. There are 240 junior high school and high school students in the program.
During the summer program, two female Unofficial Ambassadors will volunteer as full-time conversational English teachers, supporting the school’s multilingual program. Volunteers will be placed in classrooms and assist the school’s teachers with formal classes as well as lead extracurricular activities and work with students who seek to improve their English proficiency. The school’s leadership is incredibly enthusiastic about offering their students this session and hosting Americans in their school for the first time.
Krapyak Islamic school: This school in Yogyjakarta was founded in the 1970s and educates 539 students, all of whom live on campus. 300 of the students are girls and classes (and dormitories) are separated by gender. The school has 76 teachers and blends together a curriculum that draws from the national curricula, religious curricula, and its own integrated curricula. All students study English and “technology,” and the school has two computer labs with 30 laptops and 30 desktops that are practically new. Unfortunately, the school does not have faculty with capacity to teach basic computing and internet courses. The computers are mostly used to teach typing.
This summer two Unofficial Ambassadors (male or female) will volunteer with Krapyak in a special session during their summer and Ramadan break. They will teach English as well as basic computing skills to both students as well as faculty. The school is also looking for a volunteer who can train their leadership in better school management and administration, and like the other schools, is extremely enthusiastic about this partnership with America’s Unofficial Ambassadors.