Feb 10, 2006

Special Interview About New Curriculum


"It is an option, you can choose which one is best for you..."

In this issue, Miracle presents the figure of the new head of English Department, Faculty of Letters, Diponegoro University. Having been the chief of English Department since February 2004, Mr. Agus Subiyanto proposes several programs to develop this department. More information on his figure is reported by Miracle Crew, Mh. Sulhanudin as follows:

We wonder if you would like to tell our readers about yourself.
Well, I was born in Pati on August 14th 1964. Today, I live in Jl. Tlogo Berlian No. 3 Semarang. I took my SI degree in Linguistics in Faculty of Letters of Diponegoro University and graduated in 1989. One year later, I started giving a lecture in this faculty. Then, I enrolled my study at The Australian National University and graduated in 1999. I was assigned to be a secretary of English Department for four years, in the period of 2000-2004. And now this year, I am again given a mandate to manage this department.

As the head of this department, could you please tell us your plans?
First of all, I intend to develop this department because it is widely known that the department has got accreditation for its academic achievement. We are therefore obliged to maintain our achievement.

We (he and his colleagues,red) have discussed about the revision of the curriculum of 2000. In the curriculum, there are five replacement subjects of Non Thesis line. We have agreed to simplify into three subjects, which each of them is offered in 2 SKS (Satuan Kredit Semester). We also add some new subjects. They are Seminar on Grammar, Entrepreneurship, Apprenticeship, and TOEFL/IELT preparation.

Is there any other plans?
Well, in order to develop this department, we have made a solid team to complete the proposal of competence. Last year we submitted a proposal of competence to the Directorate of High Education or DIKTI (Direktorat Pendidikan Tinggi), but unluckily we failed. By preparing a solid team, I truly expect our proposal will be approved.

Then, is there any relation of submitting the proposal to DIKTI with your plan to develop this department?
Certainly yes. If our proposal is approved, DIKTI will fund our research. And we will allocate a part of the fund to upgrade the facilities, such as improving our language laboratory and many others.

Back to the revision of curriculum, a few days ago, Miracle conducted a poll about the curriculum of 2000 and its change. Many students are afraid that they will have difficulties to continue their study, what's your oppinion?
Actually, this model has been applied in University of Indonesia (UI) a couple of years ago. We will apply it starting from student of 2002. UI does not call for undergraduate students to take a thesis as the requirement of their graduation. Other universities, however, may oblige their students to take a thesis. It depends on the policy each university applies. So, you don't need to be afraid that you will not be able to continue your study.

On the other hand, many students prefer taking the non thesis line to taking the thesis line. Is it because that the non thesis line is simpler? Are you not afraid that there will only be a few students who take the thesis line?
Actually, the main purpose of the curriculum is to help students who want to get a job. In the work field, if you apply for a post in a company, you will not be asked about your thesis. Therefore, they do not need take a thesis or conduct a research. But thesis is important for the students who strongly intend to conduct a research. It is an option though, and I think you can estimate which is best for you.

*Published in Miracle June-July 2004

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Profile of Mr Bill Oberlin


"...I enjoy learning Indonesian language and Cultures"

Bill Oberlin, a guest lecturer from USA, has been teaching in English Department of Faculty of Letters, Diponegoro University since 2001. He thinks that people here are friendly. The students here are respectful, they respect the others. Such condition have made him enjoy teaching in this department.

After teaching for more than a year, he found some students having problems in learning English because of its difficulties in term of pronunciation and its different verb form. In his observation, so far, some students are reluctant and hesitant to use English in their daily communication since they feel uncomfortable to speak English.

In order to encourage the students to use English outside the class “Speaking Class, red--, he always emphasizes on the importance of practicing English to the students. He asks the students to practice it everywhere. He takes himself as a sample. He tries to practice his language of Indonesian frequently. For instance, he used to practice it when he comes home from his work, or when he is somewhere with his children.

He admits that besides learning Indonesian language, lately, he is also enjoying learning Indonesian culture as well as Javanese culture. In his vacant time of teaching activity, he makes his time for learning Javanese language with his neighbors since the people in Salatiga, a town where he lives, mostly speak in Javanese language.

Hearing on his statement above, crews of Miracle who are interviewing Mr. Bill, his nickname- became sour. That day, the small cafe where we had the interview was very noisy. Yet, his smile appearing from his friendly face made the situation more intimate and chummy. We continue enjoying our meals then continuing our dialogue
Then he told us more about his first experience of visiting Indonesia. The first time coming to Indonesia, he purposed to conduct a construction project in Kalimantan.. At that time, he had never been in Indonesia before.

Because of his first visit in 1998, he really enjoyed his time in Indonesia and studied more about the culture and the people. Then in 2001, he decided to move to Bandung with his family. He and his wife began to study Bahasa Indonesia while spending their time to teach English in a Private English Office in Bandung.
Later on, they decided to move to Central Java as his office wanted to open a new office in Salatiga. To know more about Salatiga, he started to try to speak with other teachers, others private English schools and some universities, including Faculty of Letters, Diponegoro University. Finally, he was offered to teach English in English Department.

He remembered his teaching for the first time, a long with the attack of America on Irak, and he is the only American people in this Faculty. Fortunately, the students were so kind and he talked about the issue with the students.

When asked about the condition of English Department in this faculty, he admitted that it is very good. We had worked together in curriculum planning and the teachers whom I work with have a lot of respect for their skill and dedication. He added that good facilities are important for better learning. But the most important thing is the quality of the teaching. The motivation and dedication of the students are no less important . If I have to choose between being at school with excellent facilities but poor curriculum, the teachers are not skilled or motivated and the students do not care about learning or being at school with poor facilities but it has dedicated teachers and students, I would much better be at the second one, he added.

He has a plan to go back to US, in 2006, after finishing his contract, to visit relatives and families. Then, I should make a decision as to staying in US or going back to Indonesia. My feeling said that if God gives permission, we would go back to Indonesia because my children feel comfortable here, they feel like at home here. Our experience here has been a positive thinking in our family, he replied.

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Feb 9, 2006



“What then is the American, this new men?” (Michel Guillaume de Crevecoeur).

There are two reasons why the United States has often been called “a nation of immigrants”. First, the country was settled, built, and developed by generation of immigrants and their children. Secondly, even today America continues to make in more immigrants than any other country in the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that the united states counted among the most heterogeneous societies in the world.

The process of assimilation of all many different nationalities and ethnic groups which have gone into making of America, then has been called “Americanization’, becoming part of ‘melting pot’. While, other American, becoming American in other way, maintained much of their ethnic identities. In this sense, US society likened to a salad bowl. It does not follow however, that these American are any less aware or proud of their American nationality. The various identities are met to create a new identity. This means by the terms of salad bowl.

In the census, ancestry is asked and letting people decide for themselves. Ancestry does not show whether or not an American feel and affinity with certain groups or the country they represent.

A Majority or Minorities? When we are asked to identify their ancestry, ethnics identified themselves. If Americans are viewed only in terms of majorities and minorities, white and blacks, so how about the other ethnic? Is such a minority category also a minority in itself or simply an unspecified number of minorities? The vast majority of Americans could, if they wished, include themselves among one or more “minority” categories or groups.

Talking about Immigration Laws, until 1850s, immigration to the U.S. had been largely unrestricted, with some 90 percent of all immigrants coming from Europe. In the 1920s, a number of measures were taken to limit immigration, especially from Asian, Southern, and Eastern Europe.

Then Why They Came-Why They Come. Major’s changes in the pattern of immigration have been caused by wars, revolutions, periods of starvation, persecutions, religious interrelation, and disasters which led people to believe that America was a better place to be. The heritage of immigrants and immigration has brought enormous benefits to America. Many ethnic groups added their contributions to the American Dream and by doing so keep that dream alive.

The last discussion is changes in the U.S. society. The civil right movement led to action and protest in many other areas. Women who had taken part in many of the nationwide civil rights activities became more aware of and involved in changing, their own situation, and the biases and prejudices with which they were faced. Overall, two major trends can be seen. First, there are now more laws, which specifically protect women against discrimination. Secondly, there has been a gradual, but general, improvement in how women are seen and treated in society.

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American Government


“Americans are a nation born of an idea; not the place, but (the) idea, created the United States Government.” (Theodore H. White)

The founding of United State of America is to make free and independent states. This idea, as has been though by the founder of America several times ago. Now, a new republic was founded, turning into reality the dreams and ideals of few political philosophers. American broke with an age-old tradition, and so sent shock waves back across the ocean: they decided that it was their right to choose their own form of government. As Lincoln’s word, of the people, by the people, for the people, they apply it in their government rule.

Americans first took for themselves the liberties and right that elsewhere were the privileges of an elite few. They would manage their own affairs in their own interests. They would elect their own representative and make their own laws.
Bill of Right considered being fundamental right of any Americans. They are the freedom of religion, speech, and the press, the right of peaceful assembly, and the right to petition the government to correct wrongs.

The federal and state and state governments formed under the Constitution, therefore, were designed to serve the people and to carry out their majority wishes. Americans expect their governments to serve them and tend to think of politicians and governmental officials as their servant.

“One person, one vote” principle which says that legislator are elected from geographical districts directly by the voters. Under this principle, all election districts must have about the same number resident.

Another fundamental principle of American government is that because of the system checks and balances, compromise in politics is a matter of necessity, not choice.
Americans also have Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, which is made up of the Senate and the House of representative. The Senators represent all of the people in a state and their interests.

Congress makes all laws, and each house of Congress has the power to introduce legislation. Finally, Congress decides upon taxes and how money is spent. In addition, it regulates commerce among the states and with foreign countries.
The President of the United States is elected every four years. The president is elected directly by the voters through state electors. The president can be from one party and the majority of those in the House of Representatives or senate (or both) from another.

There are two leading parties in American political parties. They are Democrats and Republicans. Sometimes, the Democrats are thought of as associated with labor and the Republicans with the business and industry. Anyone who is an American citizen, at least 18 years of age, and registered to vote may vote in the national election.

The national presidential elections consist of two separate: one is for nomination of candidates at national party conventions. The other is to win the actual election.
As federal state, most state and some cities in America have their own income taxes. Many cities and countries also have their own laws saying who may and may not own a gun. Many airport, some of them international, are owned and controlled by cities or countries and have their own airport police.

Americans always concerned that their politician represents their interest, often form “pressure” group, political lobbies, public action committees, or special interest group. Such groups seek to influence politicians on almost any imaginable subject.

All in all, what do Americans think of their system of government? One American, a Nobel Prize Winner in literature, gave this opinion: “We are able to believe that our government is weak, stupid, overbearing, dishonest, and inefficient, and at the same time we wren deeply convinced that it is the same time we are deeply convinced that it is the best government in the world, and we would like to impose it upon everyone else”.

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Why America becomes a superpower country? It can set out the image and view the world about it. All people in the world exactly know America. They have seen, heard, and read about United States for most of their lives.

“This land is your land” is hegemony of America. Our mind are influenced that all things that related with America need to know. All the images and views of America are heard, seen, read, or observe outside the United States. America seems to be everywhere but everywhere is not America. Nevertheless, American images and products are not always welcome. In both, East and West has tried to discourage or has simply forbidden the inflow of unwanted Americana.

It is very difficult for a foreigner to grasp the size of the U.S. and the great variety of life. Most Americans take the size and variety of their country for granted. For a long period of time it has been popular to describe the typical American character or even “the American way of life,” as if there were only one. To attempt this with the more homogeneous people and nations of America, the results have often been disastrous, if not just comical.

American society is the most open and, at the same time, most intensely and continually self-critical in the world. Any country that was founded on ideals, as the United States was, and that declares them openly and defines itself through them, will constantly have to measure the distance between where it is and where it should be. The distance between the reality of life and the hope for a better one is also the basis of the American Dream. It is has been hotly argued not only by Americans, but by the rest of the world as well. This debate about America is at the center of what it means to be an American and the strength of the argument reflect the view that America is different or should be. The literature of America has also demonstrated this tradition of self-criticism.

Many Americans feel that such continuing self-tradition, the terrible attention by the media, the publishing of the things best keep secret, the hunts for scandals, has gone too far. They point out that in few other western societies can political cartoonists so openly ridicule their leader.

America could be described as the polluted land, the despoiler of a great wilderness, the inventor of the throw-away culture. Or it could be described as the first country to set aside national parks, among the first to ban DDT, the culture that created the world “ recycling,” a nation where women would be jeered if they wore furs of a cheetah or leopard. America could be portrayed as a nation of intolerance and hate, or the last refuge for millions, where all religions under the sun are found.

America is neither a land where gold is found on the streets nor the land where all streets are filled with soup-lines and drunks, should go without saying. If someone today come to America already knowing what they will find, then they will find it, be it riches or grim poverty. Yet, if one is willing to give those first Americans a chance to introduce themselves, then we stand a better chance of discovering where America is, and who Americans are.

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Feb 5, 2006

About This Site


This site provides you some article about american life and institution. Publishing any article from this site requires to note this site, as the source, only for non-comercial purpose or you can ask permition to the owner by sending email to sulhanudin@plasa.com.



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