Today is Sunday in Indonesia. My host sisters schools was having a version of what we in America think of as parent teacher conferences. My host mother asked me to accompany her to the conferences, of course I said yes. I got ready and then she brought me a head wrap and informed me that it was an Islamic school and I had to cover my hair. Of course I had hesitations, but never the less, I remembered that I must try everything in a culture, and I am strong in my own faith that i said yes. The 3 of us biked together about 10 minutes. We got to the school and I got to meet some of my Ibu's friends. Sweet great ladies and their daughters. Upon entering the school we had to take our shoes off. Culture shock #1. We walked the school and there was such a great atmosphere! So many families there together! Some even having a picnic!
Arita (8yrs old) excitedly showed me her class, completely different from american elementary schools. Culture shock 2. We soon found our seat on the floor since there are no desks in the classroom we visited. The room quickly filled with women, when one woman would walk in she would walk around and shake hands with all of the other women in the room before she found her seat, something we typically would not see in the U.S.
Some dads started to walk in, but it took me a moment to observe that the dads were entering through another door and where sitting on the opposite side of the room. So naturally, Culture shock #3. Separation of men and women. The men would only greet the men and would sit with the men. It was almost as if there was an imaginary boundary that could not be crossed. Naturally there were more women than men, and the women sat at the back of the room. The room started getting packed so the men were starting to have to get close to the women. If a man sat anywhere within a 3 foot radius of a woman, the whole side of women would do a shift towards the back so as to stay as far as possible from any male. Culture shock #4.
This sure was an interesting situation to be in. Luckily I was wearing a hair cover so I did not stand out like a sore thumb. I fit in pretty well if i do say so myself, if only had a smaller nose then no one would be able to tell I wasn't Asian.
Culture shock #5. The conference began with a prayer. A 15 minute prayer, that we would never see in the U.S. Everyone of all ages knew what was going on and what was happening, and what to say. I was about to pass out with the heat of no A.C. and a room packed with over 100 people. Indonesians are pretty much champs at not showing that they are dying in the heat.
Well the conference came to an end, and it ended with another prayer in islamic. I was so confused, but just smiled when someone smiled at me. I think I did not too shabby for my first Islamic experience. But it may be my last one since I can not wear a head wrap in this heat again, I almost had a heat stroke.
On a plus note. Arita got #1 in her class with the best scores out of her grade. Ibu just kept saying Arita #1. #proudmommoment #cultureshocks #indonesia