IGLOW & Terang Bulan

A nearby IGLOW and IBRO conference led to a mini road-trip. Last weekend my school sent six students with me to participate in a nearby city, Jombang. And since my 10th grade students stay in asrama, or military school dorms, a weekend out of campus was already worth celebrating. They didn’t even complain when I casually mentioned that we’d be sleeping on classroom floors at the university that hosts the event. So like, bring a pillow! And a blanket? Since this was my first time at IGLOW, I couldn’t really let them know what to expect. But we made sure to bring bags and bags of snacks, because snacks = preparation.

IGLOW stands for “Indonesian Girls Leading Our World,” and IBRO is the complementary program, “Indonesian Boys Respecting Others.” There are GLOW programs in other countries, and the camp-style conferences are largely community-run. It’s an annual three-day leadership program for middle and high school students, and the workshops expose students to materials that aren’t always covered in their schools’ curriculum. Last weekend’s topics included reproductive health, internet hoaxes, entrepreneurship, girl’s education, human trafficking, and scholarship opportunities to study abroad.


During the girls’ session on reproductive health, every hand shot up. While I realize that the planning of this long weekend required so much work on the end of the organizers, the concept is pretty simple. Gather girls in a room with two women’s health experts, one discussion facilitator, and the opportunity to ask questions.


Besides workshops, each morning started with Zumba at 5:15. I can’t imagine getting a bunch of teens up and dancing at 5am in the States, but these students were (mostly) about it. Zumba turned out to be my students’ favorite part of the weekend.

Students create an IGLOW Bridge to illustrate what they learned at the conference

Of course, no camp is complete without a talent show. I “supervised” my girl group from afar while they choreographed a “yell yell,” or a summer-camp style chant. I figured these youth leaders had it under control. So while the students prepped for their Saturday night song/dance performances, a few of us embarked on a search for terang bulan. (We’ll be back after the break.)

terang bulan1

Terang bulan is an enormous pancake—or steamed skillet cake—covered in chocolate or peanuts (or both) and then folded in half like a sandwich. Terang bulan means “bright moon,” or more poetically, “moonlight,” probably because the round yellow pancakes become half-moons when they’re folded over. It’s an elegant name for a dessert that leaves hands sticky with oil, sugar, and chocolate.

Terang bulan is only available at night, usually beside a stand for martabak, which I can best describe as a deep-fried, pastry-coated omelette. Both snacks ooze oil. There’s no way to eat either terang bulan or martabak neatly; its just a matter of choosing sweet or savory. We chose sweet: the bright yellow, spongey and gooey cake thing.

terang bulan2

After flipping the skillet cake onto the counter, they smother it in a glob of butter, top with chocolate chips and crushed peanuts, drizzle with condensed milk, cut it in half, sandwich the two halves, slice it into squares, and pile the pieces into a paper box that weighs as much as a newborn. Turns out that one box is enough for a crowd—and there’s still leftovers for breakfast.

terang bulan3

The last day of the conference wrapped up with a walk to a park and some information about scholarship programs. Then we packed up and drove back to site, bellies full. 

A few of my 10th grade students

With only a few more weeks left in the semester and Ramadan around the corner, everyone seems pretty ready to wrap up the school year. And for the boarding school students (especially for those from islands outside of Java), they’re excited to head home and spend time with their families. Semangat!

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