WBU-AP(Junior Group) Fine work
The Opportunities, Joy and Development That Music Brings to My Life
Nur Syarif Ramadhan Indonesia 24 male

Perhaps Bapak Kalend Osen will never guess that what he did in 1976 has had a major impact on the development of learning, especially in the field of the English language today. The story began with two students wanting to learn English from him, and this became the fore-runner of the establishment of a village which is now becoming a byword in the country. People call it the Pare English Village, that is, a village which has been designed to be the most suitable area for people who want to improve in their ability to speak English.

This village is located in the sub-district of Pare-Kediri, which comprises two villages, namely Tulungrejo and Palem. Being in a convenient and strategic location with many tourism sites and objects nearby, and with a fun-learning system, English Village has become a special attraction for anyone interested in language learning or in travelling.

I first heard about English Village when I was still in college. At the time, I was in semester three when a group of students were talking about it. They were interested in going abroad to further their studies but they were poor in English.

My curiosity was aroused and I envied my best friends who were able to spend a three-month academic holiday in the English Village. My Mom flatly rejected my intentions when I told the proposal to her. The reason she gave was that I was blind. Nevertheless, the idea kept burning in my heart and, since 2014, I started saving money little by little in order to make my dream come true. I believed that my Mom's heart would melt if I put in greater effort and hold on to the truth of the magic statement, "If there's a will, there's a way". Eventually, my prayers were answered!

It happened during the 2014 Paralympic Week which took place in the South Sulawesi Province of Indonesia. I had won two silver medals in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint in the low-vision t 12 category. I was representing the Government of Sidrap District and they rewarded me two medals and a sum of ten million Rupiah. I used the money to pay for my tuition fees and gave part of it to my Mom. After taxes, I still had around three million to use later in the English Village.

On October 7 2016, exactly one month after graduation, my plan came to reality. That afternoon I left my hometown when I boarded the Citilink Airlines and headed for English Village which was about 850 kilometres away. This time my Mom had no choice but to let me go for I only informed her after I had bought the ticket. Finally, with tears and prayers, she allowed me to go. I fully understood how Mom felt - my visual impairment was her main concern as she was unsure that I could be independent despite my having assured her many times.

When registering online, I did not disclose to the institution of my blindness. From past experiences, we would usually be rejected by the public education institutions once they knew of our disability. For instance, I had wanted to continue my education at the State University of Makasar. However, when they learnt that I was blind, they tried to prevent me from gaining admission by giving annoying and ridiculous excuses even though I had actually passed the enrolment process.

On arrival at the English Village, I immediately met with the head of the institution to explain about my disability and to enquire about the learning methods employed there, particularly with regards to the techniques of teaching a vision-impaired person. Initially, the lecturers were confused and in doubt. However, after interacting with me and listening to my explanations, they finally understood and accepted me as one of their students.

With regards to accessibility, English Village is still not disabled user-friendly. However, I believe the people in charge will be amenable to the idea of creating a disabled-friendly environment if they are more exposed to their needs. But this can only happen if more disabled students are admitted into the institution.

At the English Village, I met another vision-impaired student, Hendi Hogia, from West Sumatera. He had just completed his education at the University of Indonesia. We shared experiences, compared learning methods and discussed ways as to how persons with disabilities can overcome the difficulties in gaining admission to institutions of higher learning, particularly those institutions where we had studied before.

During our discussions, Hendi Hogia disclosed that he, too, had faced rejection by one of the faculties when he registered. Thus, during the three months when we were in the English Village, we went from faculty to faculty to advocate for the admission of persons with disabilities.

The biggest obstacle I faced in English Village was in taking the TOEFL and IELTS tests. Until I left the Village, I had not been able to find any solution to the problem. In the last month, however, I won the confidence of one of the faculties where I had studied before to be a lecturer there. I was also asked to handle a Public Speaking class which I eagerly accepted. Unfortunately, I could not stay there longer as my one-month contract ended.

Although my three-month stay in the English Village had come to an end, ultimately it is my desire to further my education in another country and to realise my dreams. I look forward to the next positive experiences that will come my way, and I am very sure that I will be able to make things happen.

How about you?


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