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KangGURU Travels to Sumba
Sue in Sumba March 2006
Kang Guru Radio English visited Sumba in March, 2006, to meet the Sella Maris KGRE Connection Club in Waikabubak and to present a KGRE Teacher Workshop in Waingapu.
“Sue! How would you like to go to Sumba?” asked Captain Kan Guru. Hmmmm. I thought hard for about two seconds and said, “I’d love to!” Although I have been in Indonesia for thirteen years and visited much of Eastern Indonesia I had never been to Sumba and here was Pak Kevin offering to pay for me to go! To get to Sumba for an 8 o clock start on Monday meant a flight to Kupang on Saturday then from Kupang to Waingapu on Sunday. So that’s what I did, complete with all the boxes of materials and my husband to help carry them all!
The flight to Kupang was on time and we landed there late afternoon. That evening we walked from the hotel to a local beachside restaurant and enjoyed a succulent fish dinner while listening to a (very loud) local singer! Why does the music have to be so loud you can’t hear what the person next to you is saying! Different Pond Different Fish I suppose! Next morning we had a few hours before the flight to Waingapu so we took a bemo down into the town. Being Sunday most of the shops were shut as many of the residents attended church. Kupang looked quite sad with everything closed and the rubbish blowing along the streets. We stopped for a cold drink down by the sea and watched some of the locals catching lunch. We chatted to some souvenir sellers who complained that tourists were now few and far between and business had never picked up after the first Bali bomb and they now found it very hard to make a living. So the repercussions of that devastating attack were not only felt in Bali but also as far as Kupang.
After another bemo trip back to the hotel it was time to go to the airport and catch the Triguna Air flight to Waingapu. At the check-in counter the lady smiled sweetly as we put all our luggage, (4 boxes and a small suitcase) on the scales. Then said, ‘Sorry you cannot take all of this with you today. Some of it will come on the flight tomorrow……. If there is room” she added! Oh no! Which box to leave behind? It all contained valuable Kang Guru Material and prizes!!!! Eventually we had to leave just one box behind and she assured us it would arrive the next day.
The flight to Sumba took about one and a half hours and we touched down in Waingapu about 5 o clock. As we flew over Eastern Sumba I was fascinated by the landscape of high, flat grasslands cut by deep valleys. As the rainy season was drawing to a close the grasslands or Savannah looked quite green. I was surprised at how few settlements there were.
At the airport Pak Melky (an English teacher from SMP 2 Waingapu and key organizer of tomorrows workshop) was there to meet us with Jack, an Indonesian teacher from the same school who kindly drove us to first the school to check the room for tomorrow and meet the head teacher and then to the hotel. At the school all the preparations were well under way, the banner was up, the desks laid out and the painters promised to have finished painting the walls by tomorrow!
The next morning at 8 o clock Pak Melky and Jack appeared to take me to the school. Little did I know what was in store! At the school gates we stopped and I got out the car to see the whole school waiting to greet me ….That’s about 1,200 students! Wow! Also waiting was a fierce looking man brandishing a parang and dressed in Sumbanese style. As the music started the wild man with the parang came running towards me shouting loudly! Was he going to cut off my head? Pak Melky assured me everything was OK and walked with me between two rows of beautiful dancing girls all dressed in traditional Sumbanese clothes. I was presented with a beautiful woven selandang from Sumba and we were escorted by two of the students down to the school. This was a traditional Sumbanese welcome. It was fantastic!!!
The workshop began with some musical entertainment then we started on the Kang Guru materials. About 55 teachers from East Sumba attended the workshop. Some had traveled over 100 kilometers to be there. Thank you for coming all that way to help make the workshop a success. I presented some background information about Kang Guru first then we started on the listening activities and completed four of them before lunch. After lunch we had some unexpected visitors who were interested in the lunch boxes at the back of the room. I’ve never given a workshop before with ten dogs noisily fighting over the leftovers at the back of the room! The Teachers finished off with four quizzes with valuable Kang Guru prizes given to the winners. The teachers were enthusiastic and happy with what they had learned that day. Before they left they decided to form an English club of their own to exchange information and ideas.
As the teachers left through one door the students came in through another. What an interesting, enthusiastic bunch of students and so many of them had fantastic English. They had come from various schools in Waingapu. Well done Pak Melky and the other English teachers you’re doing a great job! They had lots of questions for me about living and studying in Australia, the best way to learn English and how to practice pronunciation. We also had some games and quizzes and the 40 plus students who attended went home happy with their Kang Guru souvenirs!I got back to the friendly Sandle wood hotel about 6 o clock exhausted but very happy.
Next morning was another early start as I was going to Waikabubak but before we set off I visited the local radio station that broadcasts Kang Guru every Sunday. I met Christina and Emilia who showed me around. I couldn’t stay too long as I had a long journey ahead of me so after checking everything was ok and dropping off some promotional items and prizes I left for the next part of the trip. Although it is only about 140 kilometers from Waingapu the journey takes about three and a half hours because the road is rarely straight. It winds up and down the hills and there are some beautiful views across the grasslands. We passed through some small villages and bought some of the local fruit. We also had a chance to see some of the famous traditional tombstones. I was surprised to see some of these actually in people’s gardens. In Australia it is extremely rare to bury your relatives in your garden!