Long Weekends Part 4: Pesantren

Bani Yasin

My wife drove me to UNPAR that morning. We stopped at McD for me to buy a quick and easy breakfast, and I arrived at UNPAR at 6.30. Some students and other lecturers from International Relations department arrived one by one. This was a Program Pengabdian Kepada Masyarakat (some kind of corporate social responsibility) headed by the International Relations Department in cooperation with Faculty of Information Technology and Sciences, to teach a pesantren (Islamic Boarding School) students in Sukabumi, West Java. We started our journey at 7 AM, driving all the way to Sukabumi. We had simple lunch at a Sundanese restaurant in Sukabumi, and drove again to the pesantren.

We arrived at Pesantren somewhere at 13.00. It was still in semester break, so classroom was empty, as in the room was dusty and no chair for students inside. Lucky we had many personnels to clean the room, bring the chairs, and prepared it for class. The chairs were relatively heavy since they were made from real woods, whereas modern chairs in the city are usually made from lighter materials such as plastic or aluminium.

About an hour later, students coming in one by one, and when enough people were there, Mas N started his presentation about Japanese culture and the environment. He told a story about Japan’s journey, from when the people did not care about the environment, up to the era where stuffs are reused again and again.

We took a break and then my turn to perform the workshop. I taught the students how to use WordPress app to write blog posts. It was fun yet challenging. There were no computers, but almost all students had a smartphone with internet connection (I provided free wifi, though). I asked them to download the app from Play Store and write the post using the app. I was lucky too that this event was held in July, one month after the pride month. I can’t imagine how to explain why the WordPress logo is colored rainbow, let alone the LGBT+ movement to the Islamic students. It also made me ponder, how app developers can have large influence to people in other countries.

A picture of me teaching to blog

At 17.00, activities ended. Students did their prayer and went home, and we traveled again to our hotel in town. Midway, we stopped at another restaurant and had porridge for dinner. Why porridge? It was one of a few meals that is still within the price limit enforced by the university. After dinner, most of us took rest in the hotel, while I ordered a spagethi from the hotel since a portion of porridge was not enough.

The next day, I arrived in the restaurant earliest for breakfast. Without my colleagues around, I had a coffee while writing blog posts (mostly the previous parts of this Long Weekends series). Teaching blog to the students triggered me to regularly write blog posts again, just like I did many years ago. Stay at home due to pandemic limited the ideas, and family responsibilites reduced my time to write one.

We then traveled again to the pesantren. In that morning the activity was painting on tote bags, led by Mas K. Students were asked to paint with the theme of environment, and tell a story about what they painted. I served as one of the judges, and painted one, too. We had mini games afterwards, and lunch. Lunch was served by the owner of that pesantren himself, with the most delicious gepuk (meat jerky) I have ever had.

The girls seem to buy my random explanation about the painting

At around 14.00, we waved goodbye and returned to Bandung. Traffic was much worse than when we departed, and we arrived in Bandung somewhere around 20.00. I took a taxi back home, and get a well deserved rest, before the next morning when I had to bring my kids to their first day of school.