Kang GURU Travels
Sue flew to the far east of Indonesia in January to visit Jayapura and Sorong for Kang Guru. Besides the usual
workshops and student meetings, Sue also helped with IELTS testing for hopeful Australian Development Scholarship
(ADS) applicants in Jayapura. Sue visited an island with language club members from Sorong and even called in to see
old freinds, Sophie and Desta, at RRI Jayapura on her way back to Bali - what a busy trip!
A trip to Papua was coming up and I was excited. I have been there once before but by boat and I only visited
the Asmat region. This trip was to Jayapura and Sorong. The first part of the journey was for Joint Selection
IELTS testing. Twenty-two students were registered to take an IELTS test as a requirement for their ADS application.
I was traveling with David Spiller from the ADS office in Jakarta and two academic interviewers – Ibu
Rose from Jakarta and Jenelle from Australia. The flight left Bali at 1:20 in the morning! I tried to sleep
a little on the plane but it wasn’t very comfortable and we were served food and drinks at very strange
hours – a hot meal at 2:00 and a snack at 4:00. We also landed at Timika and many of the passengers got
off. So when we arrived in Jayapura we weren’t really rested. It is about an hours drive from Jayapura
airport to the city and we arrived at the hotel about 9.30.
Luckily for me I didn’t have to start work straight away but after a quick breakfast we were given our
rooms and the three ADS staff went off to start the academic interviews. I had a nap and when I woke I started
work on writing some articles for the March magazine. That evening we all went to a restaurant opposite the hotel
and were joined by Adele, an ADS student currently studying in Melbourne – and her sister. Adele was back
in Jayapura to do some research for her Masters. Adele was full of stories about living and studying in Australia.
Ibu Rose ordered the food and she must have thought we were very hungry as two of every dish arrived! There was
beef, prawns, squid, papaya flowers and two of the biggest fish I have ever seen on a table! It was all very
delicious. I slept very well that night!
The views from the hotel were very impressive. From the restaurant we could see the across the bay to islands
and out to sea and from my hotel room I could see the mountains. However, the next day the views were obscured
by rain. Clouds covered the tops of the mountains and the view out to sea was hazy. I phoned Dewi from the HIV/AIDS
project and asked for directions as I was going to interview them. She told me it was quite close to the hotel
and I decided to walk as the rain had almost stopped. It was only about 15 minutes walk but up some very steep
roads! We chatted about the HIV/AIDS program in Jayapura and the recent activities.
After the interview I returned to the hotel to prepare for the afternoon
– I was going to start the ADS IELTS speaking interviews. I interviewed 8 candidates that afternoon and
was impressed by the level of English of some of the candidates. Some of them work in NGO’s and use their
spoken English every day. After the interview session was over Ibu Endah took me to a shop selling Papuan batik
and I chose two pieces of material before we set off to catch up with David Spiller and the others who had finished
their interviews and were off doing some sightseeing. They had gone to the Macarthur monument, but it was along
way from where we were and on the way we decided it would probably be too dark so decided to stop for dinner
at a lakeside restaurant instead. Lake Sentani is out near the airport and is a beautiful setting for watching
the sunset as you eat your dinner of freshly caught fish. We took some photos while waiting for our dinner and
watched the sun setting as we ate. A lovely end to a busy day!
Next morning I set off at 7:00 from the hotel to prepare the room for the IELTS test. 21 candidates from
all over Papua took the test that day. The test went smoothly and after lunch I continued with the spoken interviews.
I finished about five and Ibu Endah took me back to the hotel. That evening I packed my bag and prepared for
my morning flight to Sorong.
The next day I went back to the airport and flew to Sorong. It was a much longer flight than I thought -
almost four and a half hours and for most of the time we were flying over forest. It was beautiful – like
a thick green carpet. Pak Jack Rahamitu and Maela met me at the airport in Sorong and they took me to the hotel.
Sorong was much bigger than I expected and again is another town next to the sea and backed by hills. That afternoon
I walked down to the sea – to Tembok Berlin. This is a wall built next to the sea and was built at the
same time that the Berlin wall in Germany was demolished
- which is where it got it’s name from. We bought some snacks and ate them as we watched a beautiful sunset.
The next day I had an early start and went to SMA 3 Sorong. I met students from different English classes and
although they were a little quiet at the beginning they soon opened up and had lots of questions to ask me about
learning English, living in Australia, scholarships and students in Australia. They were great and some of them
had fantastic English. About 10:00 we left the school and drove to STIE Victory. I got changed into more casual
clothes and met some of the students who were coming on our picnic. We were going to Pulau Um and I hadn’t
realized how far we would be driving! It took almost two hours, driving on a basic road cut through the jungle.
The scenery was fantastic and despite having to slow down for some huge potholes we arrived safely at a small
village. Some of the residents of the village were going to take us by dugout canoe to the island. As we boarded
the canoes there was lots of screaming from some of the girls as the canoe rocked from side to side. Although
we could see the island from the shore the trip was across open sea and took about 15 minutes.
Students from SMA 3 Sorong
Students from SMA 3 Sorong
I was surprised to learn that most of the club members in the boat could not swim – but they weren’t
going to let this stop them from visiting this beautiful island! The island itself is quite small – we
walked right around it later in the afternoon, and he most interesting thing about it is the bats! All the trees
in the middle of the island were covered in sleeping bats! Hundreds of them! Before lunch –a fantastic
meal of freshly caught BBQ’d fish, vegetables, rice and sweet potatoes we sat down under the trees and
had an English meeting. I told the students about Kang Guru and they asked me questions about learning English. We
ate lunch then took a walk around the island. Many of the students played in the sea and all too soon it was
time to go back to the mainland. On the journey back to Sorong the colours in the forest were lovely as the sun
began to set behind the trees. We saw two spectacular hornbills flying home for the night and other birds making
their way home. When we arrived back at STIE Victory I changed back into my
‘work’ clothes and at 7:00 met a class of students from the college. Some of them struggled with
their English but they tried –
that’s important. We finished our meeting about 8:00 and I returned to the hotel tired after a great day.
I told Pak Jack that I was very lucky to have visited such a lovely place with some great people and all for
free! If I was a tourist and had to organize it all myself it would probably have cost millions!
The next day was another early start for a workshop. A driver took me and all my boxes to the workshop venue
in the town and the teachers soon began arriving despite the heavy rain. Unfortunately a few teachers coming
from a long distance way did cancel as they had to travel by motorcycle along basic roads and the rain in the
hills was very heavy. But about 38 teachers arrived and we began their second Kang Guru workshop on time. The
day went really quickly and all too soon it was lunchtime. Two hours into the workshop a teacher entered the
room and I encouraged him to join a group as we were just starting an activity. I didn’t realize he was
a representative from DIKNAS there to open the workshop! We stopped the KG activities for a while and had a
short opening ceremony then it was straight back into the activities. After lunch there were more listening
tasks and of course we finished the workshop with a KG quiz.
Teachers yelling out answers and
questions across a very noise 'classroom'
Teachers together with Sue for the
'memory' photo in Sorong
The next morning I left the hotel at 6:30 and was expecting to be back in the hotel in Jayapura about 2:00. But
unfortunately I was still waiting at Sorong airport at 1:00! I had to cancel two visits to schools that I had
planned for the afternoon in Jayapura as I realized I would not be there till late. Apparently there had been
a demonstration on the runway in Sorong the day before and all flights had been cancelled, so while I was trying
to check in for my flight all the passengers from the day before had priority. Eventually the flight left and
I was still waiting. Luckily Pak Jack and Maela were there with me. The airport waiting room was very small
and crowded and there were no seats so we had to sit on the floor! I saw a woman leaving on a flight with some
unusual baggage - she had a puppy in her handbag! Eventually Pak Jack got me transferred to the Express
Air flight which left about 1:30. Pak Jack did a great job and I’d like to thank him and the committee
for a wonderful trip to Sorong – even if we did have to wait 7 hours at the airport!
When I arrived back in Jayapura Ibu Endah met me at the airport and we drove back over the hills to Jayapura.
I checked in at 4:30 I had a shower, went out and bought pulsa and glue – my suitcase had been damaged,
and at 5:45 left the hotel to go to RRI. At RRI Studio Pro 2 I met KG presenter Sophie and technician Desta.
We presented an interactive show for the listeners. We were very lucky and got about 8 different callers with
a variety of questions. Some people were requesting a magazine, another asked about scholarships and one of the
ADS candidates I had interviewed on Friday rang to ask about the differences between IELTS and TOEFAL. We finished
the show about 8:30, took some photos to remind us of our time together and Sophie and I left Desta in the studio.
Sophie is working with Metro TV (which has its own TV station in Jayapura) but she insists she won’t give
up Kang Guru – her first love! I got back to the hotel about 9:00 and realized that I hadn’t
eaten so went straight to the restaurant and had some soup and a salad. I returned to my room, packed my bag
(again) and went straight to bed.
Desta and Spohie at RRI Jayapura
Early the next morning – at 6:00, Gus was waiting to take me back to the airport. The drive to the airport
takes almost one hour. I actually arrived a little early and had to wait for the Bali desk to open so I could
check in. However I didn’t have to wait too long and soon went into the comfortable waiting room to wait
for the flight back to Bali. The plane was quite full but in Timika lots of passengers got off and I ended up
with a luxurious three seats to myself for the rest of the flight! I arrived back in Bali about 1:30 after another
successful Kang Guru trip.