AM I DREAMING?
Chosen as one of those sent to Exchange Teacher Program to Australia in 2005 was a very great moment for me. Before I tell you about my experience, let me tell you first about this kind of program. This program was aimed at cementing the sister city relationship between Queensland and Central Java. The first teacher sent was Pak Agustinus from SMA 3 Salatiga, and today he is teaching at Park Ridge SHS in Brisbane, Australia. Following Pak Agustinus’ step was Pak Sumadi who went there in 1998. Now Pak Madi is teaching at Gladstone, a town at a coastal region about 200 kilometers from Brisbane. Both pak Agus and pak Sumadi teach LOTE (Language Other Than English) Bahasa. You feel surprised, do you? I will let you know later about this.
I went to Aussie (Australia for short) together with Pak Maman Supriyanto from Sukoharjo, who once has stayed in Japan for 4 years, Pak Saidan from Patikraja, Banyumas, who was chosen as the headmaster of Indonesian School in Denhaag, Holland from 2006 until 2008, and Pak Mohammad Aji from Rembang.
We did not go to one school; on the contrary, we went to different places in quite a distance. Pak Aji had to go to Cairns, Pak Saidan went to Bribie Island, Pak Maman went to Toogooloowa first, then moved to Brisbane, and I went to Toowoomba.
Long time ago questions came into my mind,” how can many people from my country go abroad?” from that time I started knitting many dreams in my mind. Is it a dream? It was, but now my dream comes true.
What is LOTE? LOTE stands for Language Other Than English. LOTE is one subject taught at school. LOTE means languages Australian people want to learn based on their need. LOTE includes Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, etc. Australian learns Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa for short, because they assume us as their neighboring country.
Long time ago, before first Bali blast Bahasa became very popular so that many schools and students were very keen on learning Bahasa. It became first rank among other LOTE-s. Learning Bahasa means to practice the target language. Visiting Indonesia and communicating with local people is one way to learn Bahasa. Besides, going to Indonesia is cheap; they can do shopping as well. It is fun. They can buy anything with reasonable price, they can bargain. Schools teach students how to bargain. Margaret who once went to Bali told me that she spent only15 AUD for a wristwatch. It is really an offer; it is in good quality. She is happy to have that fantastic watch.
Elementary up to high school students learn LOTE. While students are in year X, they may choose subjects they like. Sometimes students want to take LOTE, but when they feel it hard then they leave it.
Many Indonesian teachers work there as LOTE teachers. Let alone today some schools in Brisbane has immersion program, they use Bahasa as a means of communication in teaching some subjects at schools.
There is Bahasa speech contest among high school students. University holds that program. One I attended is at Griffith University in Brisbane in 2005. The winner I knew was Tom who then went to Indonesia in 2006. He insisted on going to Indonesia despite a travel ban by his country.