Islam is the predominant religion throughout most of Indonesia—but not everywhere. About 88% of Indonesians country-wide are Muslim.
Pontianak has a large Christian community, with many Protestant and Catholic congregations representing the Batak, Dayak, and Chinese-speaking communities.
A drive along the West Kalimantan coast will take most visitors through ethnic Chinese towns and villages, where Buddhists and Confucians often worship in adjoining temples.
Rapid modernization has made provincial capitals, like Pontianak, into places of great contrast where traditional markets….
exist alongside multi-story, ultra-modern shopping malls.
Pontianak is home to Universitas Tanjungpura, a state-run, regional university with pre-professional programs in law, business, medicine, agriculture, engineering, and teaching. The program in English teaching is housed in the same academic unit as the training program for science teachers.
All of my students were 17 to 20-year-olds who were preparing to teach junior high school EFL in the host country. My host institution had not understood that my qualifications were for adult ESOL and not for teaching K-12 methods courses; nevertheless, we were able to utilize my skills as a native speaker for basic speaking, pronunciation coaching, cross-cultural studies, and research writing
classes—thus saving the project.
My first week at Universitas Tanjungpura was filled with plenty of culture shock, as cattle were slaughtered in the parking lot outside the window of my office for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, and then the meat was hung on the veranda of the education faculty building. Quite a first day at work!
During my time away from campus, I tried to blend into the community as best I could, though unfortunately, I never learned Indonesian. Most of my friends outside work were other English teachers who worked for private schools, and they always wanted to speak in English.