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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Coming home to a warm and healthy meal

As I have noted on here before, I didn't start out as a Director of Studies, at one time I was a teacher and that meant living with a group of other teachers in one big dorm-style house. Each of EF Swara's schools has a teachers house (with the exception of the two Bogor schools where the teachers are given half of their bonus up front to allow them to rent a accommodation).

There are definitely ups and downs to sharing digs, as anyone who has done it will know, but I honestly believe that the positives outweigh the negatives. If sharing isn't your thing, then you can simply choose to find your own place but that is sometimes easier said than done and can prove costly if you're not careful.

That EF Swara provide housing was a great comfort to me on arriving here back in 2009. Not knowing any Indonesian language meant I would have found things difficult. From laundry to food shopping, using public transport to having a conversation, all of these things would have been tough. But not insurmountable.

For many people this is all part of the adventure and I certainly understand its appeal. But I think that even for a few nights, while you find your feet, it's nice to have the reassurance of being around people with a bit more experience, you know, just until you feel that you have your bearings.

As I mentioned, the size of the house in BSD represented the number of teachers working there and there were potentially 11 rooms that could have been used (although one of them was this dark, forbidding place that seemed to have been turned into a store room). It was a pretty modern building in a quiet estate and it also gave us the use of a swimming pool. In the house two of the rooms were en-suite doubles, just in case a couple were employed, the rest contained single beds, a wardrobe, a vanity table and an A/C unit. This same furniture list appears in all of EF Swara's teachers' housing, the only thing that changes is the architecture. Some houses are big, some small and not many of them have access to a pool! As I remember, the teachers' house for EF Puri near Jakarta had an indoor garden.

All of that was back in 2009 and EF BSD now have a second teachers' house to contend with even greater teacher numbers. Here in Gading Serpong, we have always had one main house and this was increased to two back in 2012. Recently we have returned to having just one house, not because of falling teacher numbers, rather it's because more of our teachers here choose to live elsewhere, usually for relationship reasons.

The reason that I decided to write about this side of things today was food. I found out that the maid at our teachers' house here in Gading Serpong has just started making food for the teachers, giving them lunch and dinner for a very reasonable sum. One of the things that I always enjoyed about being in the teachers' house in BSD was our maid Suti's cooking. Maids aren't employed to cook, just to keep the place clean but Suti was a bit like a mother hen taking care of her brood.

Having a maid in Indonesia is pretty much a standard. It is in no way indentured service or slave labour, rather the role of maid is taken very seriously by those that do it and most take an enormous amount of pride in their work. They are paid the going rate and given somewhere to live. Admittedly on first viewing the facilities it may surprise many westerners, but it is the norm. In my five years here I have met many people who have an inability to cook, I watched one American girl burn water, so to have a maid who is also prepared to cook traditional meals using fresh local ingredients is a real bonus.