I've returned to Albuquerque from the big all-English Language Fellow orientation in D.C. The best parts of it for me were literally seeing that I'm part of a sizeable world-wide 'mission' of some significance, and meeting/beginning to form a connection with at least some of the other Indonesia ELFs.It's frustrating that we will only see each other a couple times after Jakarta; there are at least a couple whom I'd like to get to know better.I did not get to meet the storied George Scholz, our Regional English Language Officer, but did meet his assistant Dian, who is just as 'on top of' things as I'd heard, and an extremely nice person as well. Seeing her 'in action' has made me feel more assured that if any unexpected situations come up for me this next year, I'll have the support I need.
I also learned that Hillary Clinton is my boss, ultimately, though she won't even be aware of my existence.Maybe I can get my students to write letters to her trying to persuade her to include Palembang in any visit she might make to Indonesia?
One big surprise was finding a colleague and friend from Yemen and Oregon State University, Rick Finnan, attending as a new ELF to Turkey.I'd had no idea he'd applied.
The week was divided into whole-group and smaller-group sessions ( mostly by region ) - the larger ones being devoted, unavoidably I suppose, to protocol and bureaucratic-detailpresentations, largely pro forma.Returning ELFs led the smaller-group sessions, mostly; some seemed better prepared than others.One of those sessions was devoted to use of the DVD-based course "Shaping the Way We Teach English", developed by some of my colleagues at the American English Institute at the University of Oregon.Everyone seemed impressed by the quality of the course, though until we're there it's hard to know how much of it will be applicable in each situation ( except for our own enlightenment ).All there was time for was to get everyone to look quickly through the manual that comes with the course.At least we all have a copy of our own. I know I'll be using it a lot, since I'm teaching ongoing teacher training classes as well as workshops.
Overall, the week did not change my expectations about what my life and work as an ELF will be like, what to bring, etc.Partly that's because I'd been researching and reading so much on my own ( including several blogs by last year's ELFs ), and partly it's because a few recent ELFs are my colleagues and friends and have talked with me for hours about their own experiences. Many of the other new ELFs had heard from no one in the countries they're going to, had no idea about the details of their teaching assignments or living conditions or local cultural expectations, and did seem to get a lot of new information from the presentations.
My next entry will be from Jakarta.I'm as ready as I can be, I think. But....I'm still waiting for my visa, which seems to be in Post Office limbo. Already I know I'll be at least one day behind most of the other ELFs in arriving in Jakarta.