That day finally came, I put all necessities inside my denim tote and rushed to the school. SDN Cicadas 2 is located in the center of crowded wet market whose access is blocked by veggies’ vendors every morning. The school is as I imagine to be potrayed in any other public schools; a canteen, playground square, library and classrooms with basic ornaments. I could not expect for fancy laboratories or cutting-edge technologies installed in each class, but I expect for experience and be able to inspire.
Why am I in public school? It was part of my commitment to Kelas Inspirasi Bandung by volunteering to inspire elementary school’s students in a day. It was unintentional and I registered at the very last hours. I managed to prepare the necessities the night before, together with some members in my team. They were volunteers too and we were among many teams responsible for different schools scattered around greater Bandung area. Each of us was given forty-five-minutes in each class and in my case, I have to try to inspire four-classes in a day.
What did I inspire? I managed to present my engineering background in mining by acknowledging students to many basics needed to become mining engineer in Indonesia. Things they need to learn at school, degree they need to obtain, places they can work to, types of mining equipments and some important mining minerals are among many things I talked to students. I brought some visual aids of equipments in mining pits; by the reactions I got, they seemed to be impressed. Some said that the equipments are massive after I had shown them the human comparison to those machines.
Where are the schools? I was designated in Cicadas area while other volunteers are deployed in many schools around Bandung. The location can be tricky as you might be designated in remote schools eventhough it was still a few kilometers away from Bandung; considering public transport’s accessibilities. For your information, Kelas Inspirasi is a nationwide movement, some cities even smaller regencies have their own edition of Kelas Inspirasi. Their dates of classes differ, but scheduled.
Who else can volunteer? There are rules listed in registration process; to name a few u need to have something to inspire, have worked for two years and able to take a day off when Kelas Inspirasi takes place. But I reckon everyone can be a volunteer as long as they have something to inspire; I met dozens of incredible people. I talked to them and they were inspiring even when outside the class. It was a great experience.
When is it happening again? Kelas Inspirasi Bandung has been around for three years, one edition for each year. Looking at the trend and massive turnout of volunteers, I reckon there will be another edition next year. Usually they open registration for volunteers in January or so, the selection processes are quick and by mid February, inspiration classes should have been hold.
How was the experience? It may not be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me as I can still volunteer in many editions in the future, but it was once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students. They were very active and responsive in many interactions during the class. Sure, there were terrible times when students suddenly fight during my class, or hyperactive students ruin my visual aids, or annoying yet constant questions about “batu akik” when they know I have worked in mining sites before. Using different approaches taught by my team’s guides and sharing between members of the team, I am able to control the situation. Be it using playful games when telling them about the end-product of a rock minerals, or using raise-your-hand-but-make-no-noise game when all students loudly answer my question at the same time. It worked and I managed to save my voice and strength to finish the day.
At the end of the inspiration day, the team and I asked the students to write their dreams, each in a piece of paper and put it into a banner. As I read into those little pieces, I am not sure how to react. There were many students want to become a pilot, doctor, army, soccer player or artist. There were also a few students shouting at me and say they want to become engineers. But also, I noticed a couple of papers with unprecedented low achieving career dreams, very sad to actually read that after our teams introduced many possibilities of careers.
It was an awakening moment. One day of inspiration is precious, but in odd cases, it was not enough. We need to create an everlasting environment of high achieving role models for students. There are simple things we can do everyday; we may look around and inspire children around us, or devote oneself to public education, or volunteer again in Kelas Inspirasi or similar movements to inspire even more students.
Further information about Kelas Inspirasi in Bandung area can be found in kelasinspirasibandung.org.
Further information about Kelas Inspirasi nationwide can be found in kelasinspirasi.org.