During this trip in Sulawesi, and occasional jaunts in Java before that, Brian has repeatedly proved to be a magnet for Indonesian school girls. “Excuse me Sir, can I take your picture;” “Can I ask about your country?” At Borobodur, two brave middle schoolers even asked him to sign their school uniforms.
At first, I thought the popularity was mistaken. They must have found Brian a ringer for some Hollywood star. A couple girls in Manado, and later a whole English grammar class of merchant marines in Makassar, clarified these delusions of grandeur.
Brian, and every other foreigner they come across, is just part of their homework. Middle school and high school students from various districts are asked to photograph foreigners they encounter, and record on their cellphone a conversation with them. Then the conversations are compiled together on a school computer. And voila, where there were no e-language resources, now there is an entire digital library of English conversation lessons, complete with a pick of accents to choose from: American Student, Swiss Diver, Japanese Businessman, etc.
Brilliant as an idea for extra credit. Often, the kids get flustered or distracted after the photo portion of the exercise though.
Next time a pre-teen in Indonesia approaches with a blackberry in hand and an eager-beaver gleam in her eyes, you might know why.