She traveled 12,000 miles, was bitten by a scorpion and sick for more than a week, but Corban senior Caitlin Doring said her month-long teaching internship in Indonesia was the best experience of her life.
Doring traveled with fellow Corban education majors Katie Harris and Madi Lewis to teach in a rural Christian school and Sekolah Pelitas Harapan, a private K-12 Christian school in Jakarta. The experience not only taught Doring about God and His sovereignty, but it also gave all three newfound confidence in their abilities and impromptu creativity in the classroom.
The teaching opportunity was built on relationships Corban University Dean of Education and Counseling Dr. Janine Allen and Provost Dr. Matt Lucas have made with the Teachers’ College at Universitas Pelitas Harapan in Indonesia. Corban has partnered with UPH to give Corban accredited degrees to Teachers’ College graduates who, in turn, work on contract at rural Christian K-12 schools throughout Indonesia in exchange for their educational costs.
After the Corban team arrived in Jakarta, they met with seven other summer interns from various Christian colleges. Together they flew to the rural island of Nias to teach in a Lentera Harapan school. Lentera Schools are Christian schools located in impoverished regions of Indonesia and led by graduates of the Teacher’s College, part of UPH.
The transition from life in Salem, Ore., to their first assignment in a Lentera school was abrupt. The group quickly learned how to use bucket showers. Bed sheets were non-existent and toilet paper was a luxury. In her first days, Doring was bitten on the foot by a scorpion, causing her immense pain. Additionally, she was poisoned by the bug spray, which she accidentally sprayed on herself instead of the land around her.
Despite the problems, she was able to overcome her pain and change her lessons plans in an effort to teach and encourage her enthusiastic students.
“They were on a break and school was not required for these kids,” Doring said. “They were so excited to have us there and even had a ceremony in our honor with food and dancers.”
Harris agreed and said she was amazed by the people on Nias.
“It really put things into perspective,” she said in an e-mail to Allen. “The teachers were amazing as well. There was so much joy in that school. They were perfect examples of what it really looks like to be true servants of Christ. I am so appreciative and inspired by their lives.”
The student teachers also taught at Sekola Pelitas Harapan, a private school in Jakarta. Doring was able to take her passion for photography and teach it to two students, one of whom was so excited that his mother came to the class as well. Despite the vast differences between children in the rural and the private school, Doring said she was able to adapt and learn from both unique experiences.
Teaching trips such as these also enhance Corban’s School of Education.
“These opportunities are providing the teacher candidates the chance to use the skills they are learning in their English for Speakers of Other Languages classes on campus,” Allen said. “They are also providing a time to experience another culture’s richness and the opportunity to love others with the heart and mind of Christ. It is my hope and dream that all education students will have the opportunity to embrace diversity as Christ loves the church and to ignite their calling.”
Doring and Harris returned to Corban as seniors this school year. Lewis graduated with the class of 2011 and accepted a teaching position at the Christian high school she attended in Anchorage, Alaska. Currently, six Corban alumni are teaching on 2-year contracts with SPH.
For Doring, the trip to Indonesia reaffirmed her decision to become a teacher with a strong interest in teaching overseas again. However, she’s open to the leading of the Spirit.
“I’m the type of person who will sit down and plan the next 10 years of my life in one night,” Doring said. “But God has been working with me. He’s told me I need to take Him on this adventure. I was ignoring this, but now a lot in my life has changed.”