Journal of a ‘Young Teacher’, Part 1
Bayu Adi Persada
[Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches) is a volunteer-based educational program that was started by Anies Baswedan, the rector at Paramadina University in Jakarta, to send top graduates from around the country to teach in rural areas. This is the story of a Pengajar Muda (Young Teacher) in finding his passion]
The idea of living in a place that has never been heard was preposterous. At first, for a techie and gadget-freak like me, living without electricity, phone signal, and Internet is not an option. When I proposed the crazy idea of me joining Indonesia Mengajar (IM) to my parents, my mother was in doubt, mainly because the program was just launched few months ago and there was no precedent of such program, and not in full comfort to let me go.
Only until I reassured her and told her that IM is initiated by Anies Baswedan, she was relieved. It appears my mother is fond of Anies. She says Anies is a humble and intelligent person.
My father, on the other hand, reacted in the opposite direction. He said the idea is ridiculous and silly, “You’re gonna waste 5 years of studying and working in the IT industry by being a teacher.” It was harsh but I appreciated his concern. I aimed to prove him wrong.
Despite not having full support from my parents, I embarked on the journey anyway. I believed being a teacher for underprivileged kids was the right move. And I was right. I had the best one year in my life. What an amazing experience.
In IM, I was stationed in Bibinoi Village in North Maluku’s Bacan Island. Bibinoi is a coastal village located in the middle east of Bacan Island. The topography in that area is quite unique: you can find a beach and a mountain at the same time. The beach is at the northern part of the island while the mountain is separated by 8 kilos down the south.
With population around 1300 people, there are many tribes living there: Tobelo, Makian and Bacan being the majorities. Islam and Christian are the two main religions in the village.
When my feet first touched Bibinoi’s sand and my eyes landed sight on local people’s faces, my worries of not getting electricity were washed out. Although I could not find a single bar on my cell phone signal and electricity had been installed but hasn’t been stable, I was grateful to be there.
My mission is not to find comfort and luxury; it’s to give these disadvantaged kids dream. A dream that they can hold onto their entire life.
How to Get There
To get to Bibinoi, you need to take a 3.5 hour plane ride from Jakarta to Ternate, Maluku. If you fly with the nation’s carrier Garuda Indonesia, you will arrive in the home of volcanic Gamalama in the afternoon before continue to take a ferry ride at night. The ferry sails off the harbor around 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. It is a long voyage: the ferry takes 8 hour to Bacan Island that is located in South Halmahera district.
You will arrive in port city Babang by dawn the next day. But no, not there yet. To get to Bibinoi you still need to wait until 2 p.m to board on a small boat. There’s a dock toward the east of Babang where small boats dispatch. You will finally get to Bibinoi, when calm weather allows, in an hour.
There you are in Bibinoi after a two-day journey from Jakarta.
After all the long roads I had to encounter, I can proudly say that Bibinoi is a lovely place.
[Next week: Meeting locals, teaching the kids, and discovering a new found life in Bibinoi]