Another Sumbawa Weekend and the Migrant Worker

Weekends here generally pass by quickly, which is a good thing because if I think back to just seven months ago, I remember the weekends as a time to spend with my family, dogs and neighbors; a time to spend doing some yard work on the house that we owned in Sekongkang and a visit or two to our land along the river. We don’t own any of that now, and the family is back in Bali living their daily lives of going to school, shopping, and dealing with the everyday problems that everyone has in Bali. So if the weekend passes by quickly, it means that I have less time to think about all of these things.

Life here, now that I’m living alone, doing what I have referred to before as being a hired gun is less than pleasant. It’s like putting my real life on hold while I’m working in Sumbawa. It’s a modern ghost story that you can find in many places around the planet these days as men and women move from their homes to an alien landscape in order to make money for the family.

I’m not special in this movement in Indonesia because Indonesia is one of those countries like Pakistan, the Philippines, India and… Many developing countries have a significant part of their population that are dependent on income from a father. Mother, sister, brother or child to shore up their meager local earnings. One of my brothers-in-law did two stints in Saudi to build a little bit of capital sufficient to start his own small business. He doesn’t make much on his motorcycle repair shop, but it supports his family and lets him be his own boss.

Besides the citizens of the developing countries, there are the Westerners who work in various industries (including education) and leave their families behind while they pursue a better life for their offspring.

We end up doing what we think is best for our families regardless of where we’re from. Generally, we migrant laborers make more than we can at home and so we see a trade-off: we have less time to spend with our families, but we can give them a better life because thanks to our remittances they have a few more resources available to them.


~ by drbrucepk on February 1, 2009.

4 Responses to “Another Sumbawa Weekend and the Migrant Worker”

  1. Almost sad really. Is going to work in Sumbawa that depressing. I thought that that school was one of the better company schools in the country – few discipline problems and lots of motivated intelligent kids?? You seem to make it sound like there is no energy in the place……. true?? would a young vibrant teacher enjoy it there, with a young family say?? thanks

  2. It’s not the work, John, it’s the weekends. And the families that workers leave behind. The school is pleasant enough to work in, and we’re doing some interesting stuff with technology.

    However, if I was a young vibrant teacher, I’d be looking for a larger school with a lot of opportunities for professional development and contacts. Mining schools tend to be quite isolated and not the best place to develop a career as an international teacher.

  3. I have been here nearly 10 years and it’s my only overseas experience. Not the best place to develop a career as an international teacher? Oh dear… I’m in deep shit then.

  4. We’re special cases in international education because we both have bought into the local culture where we’re working – me with my wife and kids and you with your son. Most international teachers do 2-4 years in a job and then move on to another country and another school.

    Most of my friends who have been working the international circuit for the past 20 years have been at four to seven schools and countries. I’ve been at four and two of those were actually working for the same company. The way to move on to other schools and new experiences is to network at international conferences, do workshops, etc. You notice that we don’t attend international conferences anymore. So how then does a teacher who wants to work somewhere else make those contacts that help smooth the hazards and stress of attending the recruiting fairs?

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