One day whilst sitting under a tree at the beach this little gang, who are always together, came and sat next to me and started asking questions. And they’ve never stopped! But now they can ask in English.
Meet Jeus, Alek, Andhi, Abdul and Ripping, aged 6 to 11. Everyday after finishing school and having their lunch, we meet at the beach to have English class. They come out of their own volition. And they always come. Even if it’s raining they come and we find shelter in a little hut. We focus mainly on speaking and pronunciation, taking notes as we go. As students come, these are some of the quickest learners I have met. Their zest for having the opportunity to be able to learn something new is spellbinding. They study what we have learnt during class at home, and, the next day, with a little prompting when necessary, the questions and answers flow. Having the beach as our makeshift classroom is perfect. Class is interactive and alive. Sometimes there are a couple of tourists on the beach who are keen to speak to the children and both parties are as thrilled as each other when they realise they can communicate and share a little part of themselves.
When you ask them about their dreams, ideas of working in Padang are quickly superseded with visions of working in America and travelling to horizons new. None of these kids have ever left the island they are from or know what emails are. Information is gleaned from reading, or speaking to friends. They learnt a little bit about Australia and America from two surfers who visited the beach from a surf charter boat yesterday, along with some new English expressions. No wonder that is where their dreams now lie.