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“……..I enjoy learning Indonesian language and Cultures”

Bill Oberlin, a guest lecturer from USA, has been teaching in English Department of Faculty of Letters, Diponegoro University since 2001. He thinks that people here are friendly. The students here are respectful, they respect the others. Such condition have made him enjoy teaching in this department.

After teaching for more than a year, he found some students having problems in learning English because of its difficulties in term of pronunciation and its different verb form. In his observation, so far, some students are reluctant and hesitant to use English in their daily communication since they feel uncomfortable to speak English.

In order to encourage the students to use English outside the class –Speaking Class, red–, he always emphasizes on the importance of practicing English to the students. He asks the students to practice it everywhere. He takes himself as a sample. He tries to practice his language of Indonesian frequently. For instance, he used to practice it when he comes home from his work, or when he is somewhere with his children.

He admits that besides learning Indonesian language, lately, he is also enjoying learning Indonesian’s culture as well as Javanese’s culture. In his vacant time of teaching activity, he makes his time for learning Javanese language with his neighbors since the people in Salatiga, a town where he lives, mostly speak in Javanese language.

Hearing on his statement above, crews of Miracle who are interviewing “Mr. Bill”—his nickname- became sour. That day, the small café where we had the interview was very noisy. Yet, his smile appearing from his friendly face made the situation more intimate and chummy. We continue enjoying our meals then continuing our dialogue
Then he told us more about his first experience of visiting Indonesia. The first time coming to Indonesia, he purposed to conduct a construction project in Kalimantan.. At that time, he had never been in Indonesia before.

Because of his first visit in 1998, he really enjoyed his time in Indonesia and studied more about the culture and the people. Then in 2001, he decided to move to Bandung with his family. He and his wife began to study “Bahasa Indonesia” while spending their time to teach English in a Private English Office in Bandung.
Later on, they decided to move to Central Java as his office wanted to open a new office in Salatiga. To know more about Salatiga, he started to try to speak with other teachers, others private English schools and some universities, including Faculty of Letters, Diponegoro University. Finally, he was offered to teach English in English Department.

He remembered his teaching for the first time, a long with the attack of America on Irak, and he is the only American people in this Faculty. Fortunately, the students were so kind and he talked about the issue with the students.

When asked about the condition of English Department in this faculty, he admitted that it is very good. We had worked together in curriculum planning and the teachers whom I work with have a lot of respect for their skill and dedication. He added that good facilities are important for better learning. But the most important thing is the quality of the teaching. The motivation and dedication of the students are no less important . “If I have to choose between being at school with excellent facilities but poor curriculum, the teachers are not skilled or motivated and the students do not care about learning or being at school with poor facilities but it has dedicated teachers and students, I would much better be at the second one”, he added.

He has a plan to go back to US, in 2006, after finishing his contract, to visit relatives and families. “Then, I should make a decision as to staying in US or going back to Indonesia. My feeling said that if God gives permission, we would go back to Indonesia because my children feel comfortable here, they feel like at home here. Our experience here has been a positive thinking in our family”, he replied. (Puspa/Udin).

*Miracle, June-July 2004

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