The role of a facilitator - an interview with Ode Fanti

Mention the name Fanti and quite a few of the Bahasa Basudara tutors and students will know who we’re referring to. In the background, but very much present, the quietly spoken Unpatti facilitator Fanti, is the kind of facilitator we all want to have in our classes. Whether it’s an interview, an English, Dutch or German class, her quiet disposition, immediately puts everyone at ease – students and tutors alike. She kindly put some time aside for this interview.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

"My parents are originally from Sulawesi Tenggara and like many others before them, went to Maluku in search of a better life and work. My maternal grandparents had moved from Sulawesi Tenggara to Saparua, where my mother was born, they then moved to Seram. I was born in Ambon and first attended elementary school in Ambon, but when I was 8 years old my parents moved back again to Sulawesi where we lived for a few years. We returned to Ambon again, where I attended Junior High and Senior High school. I stayed there until I started my study at Pattimura University."  

What did you study?
"I wanted to become a German language teacher, as I’ve always found it an interesting language. I liked the pronunciation, which was so different from English. Funnily enough, I didn’t enjoy my German classes when I went to Senior High school. In my first year we probably only had three lessons, but in my second year, we had an assistant teacher, who was very inspiring. She told us stories about Germany, which made the lessons all of a sudden, a lot more interesting. I became quite good at it, but when it came to choosing my university course, my first choice was actually to study English, but for some reason, I ended up studying German instead."

How long was the course?
"It took me 5 years to get my degree, but this also included my year in Aachen, Germany, where  I lived and worked as an au-pair. I loved my time in Germany. The wife was from Indonesia and had married a German. I looked after their three children, including a 6-month-old baby. With them, I had the opportunity to see Paris, Amsterdam and Volendam. It was an unforgettable experience and I would love to go back again, perhaps even live there permanently."

Did you have any other jobs before you became a facilitator?
"During my last semester at university, I had a casual job as a guide and took groups of German tourists, who arrived on big cruise ships, around the island. We visited the usual tourist attractions on the island, so I took them to see the sacred eels in Waai, we visited a nutmeg plantation and witnessed the processing of the island’s main staple sago.

After university, I worked as a hotel receptionist for a few months, followed by two years at the tourist office on Taliabu Island."

Do you speak any other languages than English?
"I can speak English and German, and know a few words of Mandarin and Dutch."

How did you become a facilitator?
"I heard that Ibu Merry Nikijuluw was searching for new staff at the Pattimura Language Study Centre in Ambon, so I gave them my CV. It all went very quickly as three days later, I started my new job. Initially, I did the administration for the German, English and Spanish courses, but when the pandemic broke out, we had to arrange our classes online. I am no longer a facilitator as I have taken over the job from Ibu Mery, who was then responsible for finding new tutors. This year I also organised the interviews with the students at the start of the semester."  

Can you describe the role of a facilitator?
"We do a bit of everything. We organise the students and the tutors. Set up the WhatsApp groups. Remind them when the classes are and chase them when needed. You have to speak Bahasa Ambon in order to translate for the students, but in some cases also for the tutors if they don’t speak it. You take note of who attends a class or who cancels and keep track of their attendance.

In order to receive your certificate of attendance from Unpatti, students will need to attend at least 80% of the classes. This is a lot, but if you think that the tutors from Bahasa Basudara are all volunteers, and the classes are free, then as a student, you can at least show some commitment by attending the classes regularly.

And don’t forget to take a picture every now and then. Tutors and students are sometimes too busy to think of this and they do appreciate it when you post it in the WhatsApp group afterwards."  

How many classes do you facilitate?
"In the first year of working together with Bahasa Basudara, I probably did about 10 classes a week. My classes varied as they were from 14:00 until 22:30, but most of the time they were from 15:00 until 18:30hrs. It’s hard at times as you constantly have to be alert, but it’s extremely rewarding. I also learn and pick up a lot of things myself, as the topics that are being discussed in class are very varied. Another bonus is that I get to meet many interesting people from around the world."

Do you have tips for the students?
"Don’t be afraid to speak, even if your grammar is wrong. I can’t encourage them enough to speak as we can only learn from the mistakes we make."

Do you have any tips for new facilitators?
"I would tell them to be patient and support the students in their class. Motivate them and translate words they don’t know, but give them the confidence they need. Tell them that it’s okay to make mistakes."

Do you have anything else that you would like to say to the people at Bahasa Basudara?
"I hope that the cooperation between Bahasa Basudara and Language Study Center Unpatti will continue for a long time, as it’s a great initiative. Hopefully one day I can meet Mrs Welna, Mrs Sonja  Susanne, Nataly, Nathalie, David, Ruben and all the other tutors I have ever worked with."

And finally, what would you wish for if you could make 3 wishes?
1. "I would like to take my mother to Mecca. Other relatives have already been, but I would like to go there myself and take my mother with me.
2. My maternal grandmother is 90 and lives in Ternate, but I would like her to live with me. She has experienced a lot of things in her life and I want her to stay healthy and happy.  
3. I hope that one day I can return to Germany, to live and work there. It will also give me the chance to finally meet all the people I have worked with in the past year, who live in Europe. Who knows I might even visit London."

For those who don’t really think that a tutor role is for them (yet), but still want to help out, why not become a facilitator first. You can always become a tutor at a later stage. If you speak Bahasa Ambon and are interested in becoming a facilitator like Fanti, do contact us: [email protected].