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.
Walking from the airplane into the airport in Banda Aceh brought back so many memories from this past summer. While I waited for my luggage, I anxiously looked for my friends outside the terminal. I was elated when I saw them and hugs and handshakes ensued. After arriving at Sukma Bangsa Pidie, I quickly settled into a house with four other ladies. There have yet to be any problems over sharing a bathroom!
On Saturday, I observed and taught in an elementary classroom. We discussed respect, treating others with kindness, and allowing time for others to think before blurting out answers. The students shared with their teachers that they felt they could concentrate more when they weren’t allowed to shout out answers. At the request of a student, I shared a fable. I was quite impressed as he explained to me what a fable is and asked me if I knew one. I shared the Tortoise and the Hare and encouraged the children not to brag on themselves and to never give up. Slow and steady can indeed win the race!
On Sunday, I visited the girls’ dormitory and truly enjoyed my time with them. We talked about a myriad of topics ranging from life living with so many other girls to an Indian soap opera on television. It was a relaxing and fun time just hanging out with the teen girls of Sukma Bangsa.
I taught two English lessons today to junior high students. We discussed when to use is/are/am/do/does and other issues of English grammar. I grouped the students into partners and they were allowed to only speak in English. They also each had to write their answers to my questions in English in their notebooks so all students were actively engaged. I think the lessons were successful because I tried to relate my questions to the students’ lives. The questions pertained to One Direction and Taylor Swift after I asked about their favorite singers. The children began writing very simple sentences but I challenged them to make their sentences more complex and they did very well with the challenge. The sentences started out simple: I do like Taylor Swift. They soon became more complex: Taylor Swift is a beautiful young lady. At the end of the second lesson, one student agreed to sing a Taylor Swift song and she shared quite the performance!
Students at Sukma Bangsa are busy preparing for their national examination and the teachers are also busy with their school recruitment period. Sukma Bangsa has a reputation for integrity and it shows in the actions of the students I speak with and encounter daily.
– Andi Webb