Monday, March 25, 2013

A Tribute to Desa 'Dos and Laki-Laki Yang Nakal...

...and how much I love them.

The Hairdos
Since arriving in my village oh so many months ago, I have had a special appreciation for the creativity of boys' hair styles I encounter from day to day. One of my students could come in one day looking like this: 

And then the next day like this: 

Special note that Nidhom, my friend above, will often go to the bathroom with one hair style and come back to class six minutes later with another. Skill.

Below, one of my fav Gang Dua guys (Gang Dua is my street), Angga, will bike past my house with this rad 'do (check the red highlights):
And another day look like this:

Even more enjoyable is that most of my students cut each other's hair. Sometimes during school breaks. Or during class time when teachers don't show up.

Here are some other shots of the 'dos I've been able to capture so far. I regret this is a poor sampling. Most of the best 'dos are lost to the ages due to the boys' unwillingness to be photographed.  

I always enjoy running into the lines haircuts shown below as it reminds me of when my brother, Brian, was suspended from his Catholic High School for violating the dress code for just such a haircut.

Here...standard. Hopefully, Msgr. Francie Bellew has lightened up a bit since.

Not one of my village kids or students,
but this guy at Bromo had a truly enviable cut.
Cutting Them Down to Size
So unfortunate are the days when the administration does a random sweep, coming into my class with a pair of scissors to chop these carefully-groomed coiffes. I die a little inside as it's done. Last month, I actually yelped as a lovely faux hawk was mowed down in one careless swipe of the gunting (scissors).

For the remainder of my class, I did my best to reassure these once rambunctious remaja (teens). Faces down on desks and hands held on their heads to hide the remains of their once meticulously manicured manes, these lads look positively beaten after these sneak attacks.

Laki-Laki Yang Nakal, or Bad Boys
These boys who are supposed to be nakal (naughty) have become the light of my days (check upcoming May blog post on the equally, and arguably even more inspirational Indonesian girls/women I have had the privilege to know). In my madrasah, the disobedience and rebellion is pretty mild and manageable. Mostly, from the beginning, I could see some of the boys just starving to fit in, looking to the cooler, funnier, or smarter kids to guide how they should act. The cool guy with confidence would start a trend like wearing ties to school (not required of the uniform), and in a couple of days, most all the other boys would follow.

Ah, youth.

For the past two years, I've authoritatively stood by the nakal boys' desks as they were talking or doing something inappropriate until they stopped. I made them sing English songs in front of class if they were late. I gave special attention to the "trouble-makers" or "slower" students giving them smaller, easier tasks that they could do rather than disrupt class. I made them study question words (who, what, where, why, how) and basic vocab they should have learned six years ago, and every day I asked them the English meaning as I ran into them outside of class until they could respond with the correct answers.

[Insert commentary on disproportionate classroom attention based on gender here. It's very real in my school, and I was horrible at managing it].

Bangga, or Proud
Somehow, now, these madrasah boys are my heart. They mostly just need acknowledgement and to be told that they are smart, cool, funny, talented, and kind. My fellow PCV friend, Allyson, shared a story at our last conference of when she told one of her students that she was proud of him, and he responded that no one had ever told him that before. [Sound of heart breaking].

For tonight's homework: you are to tell someone you love why you are proud of them. 
The world obviously needs more of this, people.

You'd be amazed at what recognizing that these boys are smart or telling them that you missed them when they were absent does for their classroom attentiveness. However, due to my less-than-mediocre teaching ability, I seriously doubt they will remember the meaning of the word "when" for too long after I'm gone.

Meh. I'll call it a win anyway.

The Boys 
So, here are some of the madrasah boys I will not soon forget:

And here's a closing from two of my favorite village posse, Ifan and Agil, being their normal cool selves as they take off to play futsal in the rain. They thought they were being photographed instead of did I, until I realized I didn't know what I was doing. 


  1. Hey Erin,

    I loved reading this blog post, it's just like my experience with my "naughty boys." I probably shouldn't, but in class when I walk over to them I say "alright naughty boys!" (no one understands what I am saying anyways, though if they did, big no-no for building students' self-esteem, I suppose!

    It is lucu, for lack of a better word, how you gasp for their haircuts!! I sympathize that it's hard to self-express when you have to wear a uniform day in and out.

    I bet they will miss you when you head out. If I were a naughty boy, I'd miss ya!

    Keep inspiring them for a few more weeks!