In my post this time, I would like to continue my story about the joys and grief for teaching in remote areas of Borneo. Yes, I know you prefer to call it as ‘hinterland’, right? Whatever! Actually it is located on the island of Borneo. Precisely at the border line of Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan Province. It took a day and night to get to Palangka Raya (capital of Central Kalimantan) and the same time to Pontianak (West Kalimantan’s capital) from my place where I used to live during eleven years till now. The village where I live called Bangun Jaya village, while the name of the locality is Balai Riam Subdistrict. The regency name is ‘Sukamara’, without ‘H’ at the end of the word. Because it could be ‘SUKAMARAH’ (easy to be angry)! LOL 😛
Surely you do remember where I came from? Yup true, from my mother’s belly was! Hehe… Ups, I mean I came from Bogor, the rain city southern Jakarta! After reading a letter from my cousin who lived in Borneo, no longer after that I graduated from high school and I was failed to obtain a college scholarship to Japan, I was desperate then I decided to move from Bogor to Borneo. Many people say that if we want our lives to grow then we need to do to move. So, it looks like my decision was not wrong, Yippee … Life moved! 😀
In short, when I arrived in Borneo I saw my cousin’s report that there was no English subject. So I tried to meet the headmaster. I didn’t bring any certificates to apply for job at that time. I just said that I intended to advance the villagers to teach English. Warmly he accepted me to work as a teacher of English. Lucky me! 🙂
It was my first time for being a teacher. I taught at SDN Bangun Jaya (Bangun Jaya Primary School). The school building was made of bulin (ironwood) with shingle roof. Bulin known as ironwood, but the condition of the school where I worked was very alarming. There was no infrastructure that support for teaching and learning activities. Anyway pathetic me, going to the toilet there’s no water. Must wait for students who had a first fault to be punished draw water from the well.
Because all children in the primary school never learned English before, I obligated to teach them from zero, began from alphabet. I often called them to come forward to the front of the class to read directly, and they seemed shy to try. Sometimes they laughed when I was explaining a material or slightly made a joke with them. “Hey kid, why your hairs are like popcorn? Mama selling popcorn then?” My jokes to a frizzy-haired child, with the sound of Batak accent. And suddenly the whole class laughed. The child that I joked with, laughed.The students were never sleepy when I was teaching because they always laughed for my jokes.
Besides working as a teacher at school, I began to open a business tutoring at my aunt’s house. I lived with my aunt. Many students were interested in taking courses with me. Not only for English lessons but also mathematics. Since the first open, the number of students in my course had reached 40 students. Until there was a junior high school student who took a course with me. She often followed me everywhere I went because she had a crush on me. Hihi… ♡♡♡
The funny thing was most of my students outside the school called me ‘Abang’ (elder brother) because of my age’s still young, that time I was 18 years old. But in contrast their parents called me ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr. Sugih’. Feel so old! “Mr. Sugih, Mr. Sugih, where are you going to? Here stopping first! Would you like corn on the cob?” called their parents when I crossed walk in front of their house. That lives in the village, the nature of the hospitality of the villagers still noticeable.
I was grateful to the school where I taught had built a new building. We would have three additional classes so that later no longer shift the morning and afternoon shifts between junior and senior grades. Our school would be in the form of letter L stage. The new building was also made of ironwood boards but the roof made of multiroof.
You know if I was happy living in remote Borneo? Yes, I was happy not to be an unemployed! I was happy even though I just graduated from high school, I had my own business capitalize the brain and intelligence had. At least I could show the rest of my family that I could stand on my feet especially to my mother. I’m not the kind of child who likes to whine and requires parents to comply with any desire. But I was sad. I often thought of my old school comrades, before our separation they told me that they would continue to renowned universities both within and outside the country. While I? I found it to be a prince dreamer who were stranded on the island of Borneo for failing to realize his dreams.
I could not find the windows of science at the local library as often as I did when I was in Bogor. If I wanted to watch TV, I had to turn on the generator. Since there was no electricity in the village where I lived at that time. If I wanted to buy fresh fruits, I could not go shopping to the market, because unfortunately there was no market. In addition, neither public transport like in the city. Living in a remote area of Borneo made me feel constrained as in prison, all completely within the limitations. But I kept trying to convince me. I had to live to help my students. They were budding nation in this country. They needed me to look at the window wider world. Sad indeed, but my heart was much more sad when seeing our school buildings were burned because of lightning. None of the items that we could save in the building. Chairs and tables were all engulfed in the flames. Just lived the new building which became the basis of our hope only to still be able to continue teaching and learning activities. Surely shift between junior and senior classes would continue as usual. I vividly recall the fire that occurred one week before the General Deuteronomy Odd Semester, just two weeks before the tsunami in Aceh occurred. In the fire that burnt our school, I heard a whisper that say to me if I must live for them. For my students!