Heart of Campus, Green School

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Year in Review (otherwise known as Report Card Avoidance)

Somehow a short respite from this blog lapsed into a 6-month hiatus. Not sure why, in retrospect. I think it was a mix of visitors, holidays, illnesses, work, exhaustion, and also getting into the rhythm of life here enough that it didn’t feel terribly extraordinary anymore. There’s less to write about when things aren’t new. But then I stop and remember we’re at Green School in Bali, a complete micro-sub-culture of weirdness in the jungle and I realize I have a lot to share. I find myself walking home from work, chuckling as I narrate yet another bizarro incident from the day in my head…then the struggle commences – do I tell the tall tale or do I remain a diplomatic ambassador of my workplace with more of a mums the word approach? At this point I suppose it is better to simply keep quiet. Suffice it to say we attract a lot of very alternative-minded people here and incredibly unbelievable things happen on a daily basis. Some parents go so far as to explain every extraordinary event (aka: misbehavior in class) as a repercussion of the nuclear disaster in Japan. How does one work with that? That’s part of the excitement and chaos of this place. Green School attracts all types. Some are overachievers who want Green School on their kid’s resume, meaning we are meant to supply their child with the rigorous academic challenges they might receive at a prestigious private school in Washington DC alongside kids who have been home schooled for so many years or in the Waldorf system for so long that they are master woodcarvers, painters and musicians who struggle to grasp the basics of reading and writing. The highs and lows are still extreme. It is part of the overseas crack experience. Of course the car was breaking down on the way to the hospital to check up on Chad in the throes of Dengue. When else would we have car trouble? This year has been about a lot of different things – facing and overcoming anxiety, adjusting, thriving, questioning, seeking, listening, waiting and all the other –ings we have been experiencing in the jungle. We had a coming to Jesus, we met our El Guapo, we wrestled demons over what to do as a family of four. We realized in many ways that Bali is not exactly our place. Most expats around Ubud fall into the category of extreme alternative living. The raw food movement, full colonic centers and yogi life coaches abound. It often feels over the top as we compare our version of 'normal' to their version of alternative. On the whole, though, we have benefitted here. We have slowed down as a family, creating time to be together without a lot of distractions every day and we have strengthened our little family unit of four. We have all had to live outside our comfort zones and we have grown and changed for the better (I think). (I’m sure my 3-yr-old will thank me for this experience someday!) More importantly, Chad and I have both rediscovered passions outside of teaching that could reinvigorate us at a time when schools seem to be in such peril. This experience is, after all, a working holiday at hippie summer camp. (This has been my survival mantra from the beginning!) Yet we are committed (with a team of amazing teachers) with a focused purpose to transform this hippie summer camp into a more legitimate school. One year in, there is still much work to be done but the progress is visible. So, demons aside, bamboo house a thing of the past, we have our sights set on the horizon of summer vacation 2012 with much excitement while at the same time we are feeling positive about our imminent return to Green School for next year’s wild ride. Hope to see most of you stateside over the next few weeks or in Bali during the next school year!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Saying Goodbye to Bamboo Village

Last month we hit the bamboo village wall – or lack thereof. It quickly became time to move on. After what felt like a lengthy search we found an amazing house. We moved last Friday, June 1st. Our new house feels pretty dreamy. Of course, like all things, it has some pros and cons. The cons have yet to unearth themselves so I’ll keep thinking of housing nirvana and cut to the chase – we’re in a small ‘villa’ tucked into the rice paddies of Ubud with a view of Mt. Agung, an incredible garden and a swimming pool! We are sleeping in air conditioned bedrooms and we have returned to the land of flush toilets. There are a total of six individual houses on one big property with a shared pool. Each house will hold a Green School family. Some homes are occupied by Green School teachers, other homes have sabbatical parents on extended leave in Bali. Almost everyone has kids ranging in age from 3-10. Our new neighbors are from USA, Canada, Holland, Indonesia, Portugal and Brazil. Everyone is pretty physically active (quite rare here!) and generally into cycling. Again, in our minds = housing nirvana. The reality will, of course, unfold over the next few months with fantastic moments and probably a few not-so-wonderful times. For now, though we have high hopes of building a positive, supportive and fun community with our neighbors in our new digs. As I have realized with overseas living (an a lot of situations in general), when I am “in” the situation, I try to appreciate what is good (on the good days) and work hard to change or accept what isn’t so good on the other days. Sometimes it is a struggle, but that’s the overall goal. However, once I am on the way “out”, I give myself a few moments to focus on what I have been enduring and I really get into letting it bother me because it is about to be a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong - Bamboo Village is an amazing place. For many months I couldn’t think of any other place to live. Being outside all the time, the built-in community, the 5-minute walk to work on a jungle trail, the full on Swiss Family Robinson adventure of the whole affair had me for most of the year. Then Chad got sick with Dengue Fever, he tried to ride it out at home for a week or more and suddenly the house became the swamp witch from the bowels of the jungle - a sweatbox with no escape, and while he recovered quite comfortably at the Marriott Hotel near the International Hospital, he came home weak, beaten up and ready for a change. So, having made the mental shift out of BV, I happily said goodbye to the following things last weekend (in no particular order): -Stepping in gecko poop at home (although this could likely happen in our new place... hmm...) -Stepping in rodent poop at home (hmm, could also be an issue at house number two.) -Pooping in a bucket. -Peeing in a bucket. -Hearing my neighbor singing “Age of Aquarius” into a fan at 2 am. -The sweaty, oh so sweaty walk home from work. -The natural stone road into the village (aka: ankle twisting trap). -The stench of the cremation fire from the temple up the road (yep, not frequent, but not good). -Bizarre skin rashes that ooze and lead to fevers. -Fevers, fevers and more fevers (we remain quite hopeful and perhaps stupidly optimistic that our move will improve our overall health). -The mold : moldy clothing, moldy puzzles, moldy dolls, moldy toothpaste tubes, wet stinky sheets on the rainy days, moldy roof, moldy front steps, moldy canvas ‘wall’, all the disgusting stinky mold! So, goodbye BV – don’t let the bamboo door (uh, barn gate) hit you on the way out! If any of you have considered visiting us in Bali but felt a bit squeamish about our accommodation, squirm no more – come and experience it for yourself!