PARTNERSHIP FOR SCHOOLS (P4S) LEADING CHANGE: INDONESIA AND THE UNITED STATES, A Citizen Exchange Program for Indonesian Islamic Boarding School Educators

4 01 2009

2008 PARTNERSHIP FOR SCHOOLS (P4S) LEADING CHANGE: INDONESIA AND THE UNITED STATES, A Citizen Exchange Program for Indonesian Islamic Boarding School Educators

Host School Summary Reports
For a summary report from each of the host schools as to the activities undertaken, connections made, lessons learned, planned exchanges and more:


Metropolitan Learning Center

Bloomfield, Connecticut


Host School Summary Report

Submitted by

Caroline Alexopoulos


Summary of Activities


October 19, 2008

Our experience got off to a warm and welcoming start when the guests and host families gathered together for a light dinner upon arrival. A restaurant owned and operated by a local Palestinian family was purposely selected, giving our guests an opportunity to be introduced to some new friends who have shared religious beliefs and Arabic language. There was an immediate connection between the guests and restaurant owners, and good food and comfortable conversation capped off their first few hours in Connecticut.


October 20, 2008

Upon arrival at the host school, Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC) for the first time, the guests were immediately off on a field trip to the Riverfront Recapture Project in Hartford, CT with the senior class. This gave the guests the opportunity to drive through and see firsthand the urban living environment that is home to a majority of MLC students. The Riverfront project is one way the city and state are working to improve the social, economic, and educational image of the capital of  Connecticut. The students and staff participated in planned events along the riverfront such as dragon boat races, ropes course and zip-line to encourage and simulate how we are really interconnected to one another. Our guests enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the students and get to know them in this informal setting.


October 21, 2008

The morning began with a breakfast gathering sponsored by MLC’s administration and staff to

formally welcome the guests to our school and learning environment. Our guests began with a MLC tour given by two seniors and then they were off to their first round of classroom visitations with the Essentials Teachers. Later that afternoon, a visit to the New Britain Museum of American Art gave the guests an opportunity to observe what are considered to be some of America’s cultural antiquities and treasures. The collection spans more than 250 years of some of the best examples of paintings, drawings, and sculptures created by America’s finest artists. This gave the guests a quick snapshot of American history through the eyes of the many artists whose work is on display in this institution.


October 22, 2008

First thing this morning, the guests participated in a student conducted forum, known as a “Town Meeting”, when the students at MLC openly express themselves on a variety of topics, including the various school events, activities, and school operational issues and concerns. Then our guests sat in on the weekly Special Education meeting for updates, concerns and necessary decisions. They were able to interact with the department and discuss similarities/differences with Indonesian policy. Classroom visitations continued with visits to world language classes. Our guests interacted with MLC students in the French, Spanish, and Chinese languages. Later that evening the guests were taken to a soccer (known in Indonesia as football) game at the nearby University of Connecticut. This gave the guests the opportunity to visit the campus of a typical large public university in our country. They also got a chance to see one of the top ranked college soccer clubs in the country. An added benefit to the evening was that we stopped by the hockey arena, saw a little hockey and snow off the ice rink. This was a first for our guests.


October 23, 2008

Our guest began their day with a meeting with the director of technology at MLC, Mr. Lee Noury. They were able to discuss the benefits/challenges of teaching in a school with cutting edge technology. Sofwan and Lee discussed the possibility of sharing in a video conference with MLC and students from Darunnajah Islamic Boarding School. They were very interested in how we use technology to enhance the learning process, promote student achievement and meet the MLC technology magnet theme. The team visited a variety of core classes and was given the opportunity to sit in on vertical team meetings to discuss department updates and the processing of student data.


October 24, 2008

Today, the AP Calculus students made an American breakfast for our guests including pancakes,

something our guests had never experienced. Following breakfast the team met with the guidance department to discuss school policy and procedures regarding academic rigor and school requirements, including service learning and additional magnet school obligations. Following more classroom visits, the guests then visited the Madina Academy and Mosque in Windsor, CT. They had the opportunity to visit classrooms, speak with students, and have a discussion with the principal of the academy, before attending afternoon service. Later that evening, accompanied by more than a dozen MLC family and friends, the guests were brought to a professional ice hockey game. The fast paced, fist swinging filled game may have been new to our guests, and somewhat violent to the firsttime observers, but the excitement of the sport and slice of pizza combined to quickly grab their interest. Yes, they were even standing and waving their arms in the air hoping to snag one of the free tee-shirts the team mascot was slinging into the crowd in between periods of the game.


October 25, 2008

It was early to rise and on the subway to Boston, where our guests had the opportunity to visit the campus of the world known and highly regarded institution, Boston Harvard University. This classic New England campus rich with tradition is set in the village of Cambridge, MA. The guests were quick to note the obvious street name and architectural connections to the old mother land, England. The guests continued their day with a walking tour of the famous Quincy Market area and a few more of the sites and stops along the historic Freedom Trail.


October 26, 2008

No rest for the weary, as once again the group was off on another train ride, this time to the home of the former World Trade Center, New York City, NY. Among the sites that were a must see included gazing across the harbor at the icon of America’s freedom, The Statue of Liberty. Our walking tour included an opportunity to barter for some great souvenirs at bargain prices on the open market temporarily set up in the downtown streets of New York. Of course they requested a visit to site of the 9/11/01 World Trade Center tragedy. While visibility of the site itself is now all but obscured by construction fencing and equipment, it still remains an emotional stop for all first-time visitors. However, it was the visit to the world famous Rockefeller Center and ice skating rink that just may have been most interesting. With reference to his experience at the hockey game two nights before, one guest (Media) leaned over the railing and shouted down to the numerous skaters enjoying their Sunday on the ice, “off with the gloves.” For the host families, this moment will long live as a highlight of our shared day in New York.


October 27, 2008

The morning began with our guests making a presentation to the AP World History class. The

students are studying the spread of the muslin religion through Indonesia. Our guests were able to give first-hand knowledge and experience with their history and cultural beliefs to the students. This real-time exchange was clearly valuable for all persons involved. The rest of the day was filled with classroom visitations and lunch with the sixth-grade team.


October 28, 2008

The day began with our guest presenting during a sixth-grade activity called morning circle. During this time, the students learn about what it means to be an MLC student. They address the climate and culture of MLC. Then the team met with Mr. Noury, senior students and the US Department of State representative, Adam Meier. They participated in a video conference with students in Indonesia. The students could see one another and they discussed topics pertinent to their respective countries and schools. However, as they became more comfortable, the conversation focused on topics all teenagers are interested in, music, books, and after school activities. They learned that they liked many of the same things and had similar questions to ask of each other. Mr. Meier had never experienced this before. The students shared email addresses and set up pen-pal opportunities with each other. Later in the morning, Connecticut State Department of Education Social Studies Consultant, Dan Gregg met with the guests and Mr. Meier to discuss education in Connecticut and throughout the nation. Later that afternoon, the upcoming secular holiday of Halloween offered the chance for our guests to get a kick out of carving a pumpkin (jack-o-lantern).


October 29, 2008

The guests were off for a full day visit to a nearby rural Pre-K-12 school district of 2,600 students in the community of Suffield, CT. During their visit the guests had the opportunity to tour the district’s four buildings (Pre-K to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12) and observe the children and their classrooms. There was a mid-morning meeting with the entire administrative team for the district, when the guests were given an overview of the district that included the school philosophical, operational, and curriculum goals. The visit to Suffield concluded with a large group meeting, when the guests made the DVD presentation of their schools to the 7th grade students, culminating with students given an opportunity to ask questions of the guests. The guests later stated how they really enjoyed the opportunity to hear what the students had to say and remarked at the boldness and confidence of the young student body.


October 30, 2008

Our guests began their day with a meeting regarding the how’s and why’s of Senior Project, an MLC senior/graduation requirement. They continued with classroom visits, took some time to begin writing their reflections of their experience with MLC, had lunch with Grade 11. Later that afternoon, they visited still another of the world famous/premier campuses of higher education, Yale University, in New Haven, CT. The geography workshop was sponsored by the Connecticut Geographic Alliance, where they attended a session on Global Information Systems Technology.


October 31, 2008

The morning began with a presentation to Grade 7 during their morning circle and then on to

classroom visits, reflection time and lunch with the Grade 12 team. Our guests attended Mosque at the Muhammad Islamic Center of Hartford. Two the guests had the opportunity to enjoy the evening, Halloween, with a host family that had more than 50 visitors the house dressed in various costumes. Intrigued by the concept that little people dressed like monsters, ghosts, and goblins were given candy treats, just for knocking on the door and reciting “trick-or-treat”, the guests eagerly jumped to their feet with camera in hand, each time the doorbell rang. Of course, what was equally as interesting was to observe the reaction of the little visitors at the door, when the guests greeting them at the door in their traditional Indonesian dress.


November 1, 2008

The day was spent preparing to return to Hawaii. Preparations included a full day of shopping at

various stores, malls and technology shops. After two wonderful weeks, our guests were ready to head back and share their experiences with their other Indonesian friends back in Hawaii. However, parting on the very early morning of November 2nd was clearly difficult for all of us. It was very hard to let our guest go. They had become part of our daily lives and had very easily slipped into our everyday routine. How much we were going to miss them! It was very clear that we had so much to learn from each other! We needed more time together!


In Conclusion


October 20, 2008 to October 31, 2008


As part of our discussions in Hawaii, our guests set goals for themselves which included interacting with students, staff and administrators, learning about the climate and culture of MLC, looking a new ways to manage classroom environments, observing classroom instruction and student response, and understanding how technology influences lesson design, instruction, assessment and data processing.


They were also interested in how teachers are evaluated and what is available for professional growth. As evidenced in the daily summaries, we believe that through all their many

opportunities/experiences at MLC they met and exceeded their goals.


Our guests also set goals for themselves which included living and learning in an American home. These experiences were filled with sharing meals, living spaces and car rides to and from various places. By the end of the second week, our guests began to recognize the lay of the land and feel a sense of directions. Our guests became increasingly familiar with the households and communitiesat-large in which they were staying. They seemed to blend right in to daily life. If tallied, we could say that we had more similarities than differences. Food, weather, schedules, etc., never seemed to be an issue for any of them. They were flexible and always willing to give something a try. We just kept wishing we had more time during our days together and more than two weeks to spend together.


As a result of our time spent together, we have established a relationship that will continue even

though 12 hours separate our schools and homes. We found out that we are more alike than different, not just in school but in many ways in our everyday lives. We all look forward to a possible exchange in the coming year. Following our video conference, we are more committed to making this exchange part of our MLC way of life. As a global and international studies school, we look for all opportunities to develop strong relationships with communities around the world. We would truly consider a “sister school” relationship so that we can look for funding for another exchange with MLC traveling to Indonesia.


The P4S program has opened doors for both our communities/countries to help promote global

awareness and interdependency. We have truly been enriched by this exchange as well as teased by

this opportunity. We believe that this is only the beginning of a long-lasting relationship. We thank the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii for their support of this program. We know that our lives have been changes, our classroom enriched, and a greater light has been shed on our global responsibility.




One response

10 01 2010

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