Mark D. Costello

School Director,
Corporate LanguageTraining
EF English First Boston.


I started working with EF Surabaya in June 1997. It was a great place start with EF. The team at EF Surabaya is innovative, energetic and dynamic and is an excellent place for somebody wishing to join a truly global organization with opportunities all around the world.

EF Surabaya offers teachers professional growth within the local EF English First schools. This development helped prepare me to be EF Corporate Language Training School Director in Boston. To anybody interested in working for a well-managed school with top quality academic programs, you couldn’t find a better place to teach than EF Surabaya.

The majority of the time I’ve lived here has been in a house which I’ve rented using the housing allowance EF provides to teachers who choose to find their accommodation independently. I choose to live in an area much like where the majority of urban Indonesians live – a traditional neighborhood, or kampung . Life there illustrates how warm and community-conscious people in Surabaya can be.

Despite being the only non-Indonesian in the neighborhood, I was made to feel welcome as a member of the community and, as such, was encouraged to fully participate in all the kampung activities. It was at these community events that I learned how truly diverse Surabaya is. Residents were from all around Indonesia and brought their languages, cultures and religions with them. There was genuine curiosity and respect regarding one another’s traditions.

The most common kampung activity is called a selamatan ? where one household invites the rest of the neighborhood (sometimes only the men or only the women) to eat in order to mark some important occasion. Many of the occasions follow Javanese traditions, such as reaching the age of 100 days or marking 1000 days since the passing of a family member. The first selamatan I attended was the one which I hosted as a house-warming when I moved to the neighborhood. Because there are so many of these functions and as a courtesy to the host, people certainly don’t dawdle! I met, fed and said goodbye to nearly 100 of my new neighbors in about 45 minutes from start to finish. Since that day, every neighbor has had a friendly smile or kind words and made every effort to remind me that the community would do everything it could should one of its members need help.

The attitude of accepting and celebrating diversity extends beyond the traditional neighborhoods and can be seen all around the city ? including the classroom.

Any shortcomings that living in an industrial city can bring are made tolerable by the people of Surabaya who are among the most hospitable, warm people in the world. Countless first-hand experiences are proof to me that Surabaya can become home to anyone who chooses to live here ? whether long or short term.

(Former Director of Studies,Corporate Language Training, EF English First Surabaya)