As an Australia Awards Scholar, I had an opportunity to be involved in Indonesian Language Learning Ambassadors (ILLA) program. I decided to be a volunteer in this program. I thought it will be a good experience for me to teach high school students in Australia.
Blayney, is a rural town in New South Wales (NSW), about 4.5 hours by train from Sydney. It is a small town, only 3000 population, not so many people can be seen on the street. I went there last Sunday, 16 September 2018, with my volunteer friend, Steven. We took the train in the morning from Sydney, at 07.19 am and reached Blayney at 11.40 am. We walked from the train station to the hotel provided by the school. It took us only 10 minutes to walk to the hotel.
After checking in (which is an easy process, only one receptionist, and only 12 hotels room available), we walked around Blayney. So quiet, streets are wide, pedestrian space is big and empty. It seems like a ghost town. The great thing that I would not expect before is there are many cherry blossoms trees in Blayney. They were blooming beautifully during our visit that time.
We stopped by at Hang Sing Chinese restaurant, the only restaurant I can find in this town. Our next itinerary was surveying Blayney High School before we teach the next day. It was quite easy to find the school, just a couple block from the restaurant. In fact, everyplace in Blayney is reachable by walking.
After visiting the school, we came back to hotel and took some rest before continue exploring the town again. We walk around and then see Heritage Park in Blayney. The only tourism spot in the town.
I felt so grateful to be able to visit rural NSW, a rare opportunity given to an ordinary person like me. Who am I anyway can reach this part of Sydney. It was such a great blessing again from God. I can even watch so many stars at night, because it was so dark, not many lights, and it was quiet and peace at that time.
The next day, Monday, 17 September 2018, we came early at 08 am in the morning before the school start. We met all the teachers in the school before we entered our class, year 7 in this high school. In total, there are 6 sessions, but we only taught for 5 sessions. One session before the last one, we used for recess. The students were excited, a bit shy at the beginning, but felt curious and excited towards the end. Steven and I shared Indonesian geography, the islands, the language, daily conversation, and presented videos and photos of Jakarta and Surabaya, biggest cities in Indonesia. We also gave quizzes and give souvenirs to the students. In addition to that, I also brought Indonesian traditional clothing, batik and kebaya, and put them on students who want to try.
It was a very precious experience for us, and we are thankful also to Australia Awards and Asia Education Foundation to provide this opportunity.