On June 13 I visited STKIP Muhammadiyah ABDYA in Blangpidie where I led a workshop on teaching speaking, reading and listening to 40 teachers and students.
According to Wikipedia (clears throat) Muhammadiyah is the second largest privately run Islamic organization in Indonesia. Their main activities are cultural and educational. Currently they operate over 5,000 schools across the country.
After the morning teacher workshop, I met with 50 university and high school students to discuss scholarships for the United States. I was joined by Ibu Isna and Pak Soloman who shared their experiences studying at Texas A&M through the Fulbright program. The main message we shared with the students was the importance of planning ahead. One cannot decide that they want to study abroad next year. Achieving this aim takes years of preparation. Preparation includes improving their English skills, preparing for proficiency tests, building a list of community service activities, and entering the right field of study. Even though this group of students was smaller than the audience at other schools for the study abroad presentation, they all seemed highly motivated and able to understand my English. They also seemed motivated to return to Southwest Aceh after studying abroad to make their community a better place to live.