One of the most exciting moments thus far is Site Announcement (or site revealing as I like to call it). What is it? Well it is the awesome moment when you discover where you will be living and teaching for the next two years of your life. Kind of a big deal. They call us one by one to tell us where we are going to be going, sitting there waiting and waiting was a tad bit stressful. I knew very well that I wanted to be in Java Barat (West Java). Finally my name was called out, I walked to the front of the gym to grab my packet and discover where I was heading. Your girl got JAVA BARAT! I read the name of my region, the simple packet of information contained, a map with my location, a photo of my host family(one grandmother), a photo and general information about my school, some contact information, and other quick descriptions of my area. This packet stated REGION: GARUT. Garut, what is that? Do you eat it with rice? Well it turns out that Garut is the name of my province! Right underneath the city of Bandung, about a 2hr 30min ride south. Of course I quickly googled Garut, and well based on Google I was beyond excited. It was a small city, I was supposed to be in the outskirt village areas of this city named, Sucinaraja that is located in between mountains and stratovolcanoes. Google said that there are also hot springs and beautiful views on hiking trails and retreat areas. Well lets do this! When do I leave? Well right after site announcement it was time to rush home because well I would leave the next day for a site visit to my future home for 4 days. 14 hour train ride plus 3 hour bus ride…here I come.
You see that little dot in Garut, well that is the Ibukota (Capital of Garut) and I am a 20 minute drive to the city center. Pretty sick huh? Wish me luck for this journey! Will let you all know how it turns out.
2 years is a long time away from home, lets be honest even one month is a long time away from home. You will run into challenges, things will happen. Staying strong and positive might seem impossible, but DO NOT forget that you have your support system in the Peace Corps, but you also have amazing family and friends at home. I am on my one month here in Indonesia, well almost and I have had to call on my friends at home to help keep me strong. For that I want to say THANK YOU, for being so amazing and helping give me strength when I could not find it, and reminding me that I am not one to give up. It has been tough for me to find my place here so far, I actually haven't found it yet. I took a moment today and stepped back to look at how I am living my life, and I know that I am not being myself just yet. I've gone through a tough week, but I know that I can count on these smiling faces to help get me through the day. I am thankful for each and every one of the people that I have met along the way and have had the honor of calling my friend. I love you all and miss you! I know I am not down the street or even in the States, but I am a facetime, phone call, or message away!
Just some of the amazing people that I get to call my friends :) I love you all though, even if you are not in this picture! ♥
Today is Sunday in Indonesia. My host sisters schools was having a version of what we in America think of as parent teacher conferences. My host mother asked me to accompany her to the conferences, of course I said yes. I got ready and then she brought me a head wrap and informed me that it was an Islamic school and I had to cover my hair. Of course I had hesitations, but never the less, I remembered that I must try everything in a culture, and I am strong in my own faith that i said yes. The 3 of us biked together about 10 minutes. We got to the school and I got to meet some of my Ibu's friends. Sweet great ladies and their daughters. Upon entering the school we had to take our shoes off. Culture shock #1. We walked the school and there was such a great atmosphere! So many families there together! Some even having a picnic!
Arita (8yrs old) excitedly showed me her class, completely different from american elementary schools. Culture shock 2. We soon found our seat on the floor since there are no desks in the classroom we visited. The room quickly filled with women, when one woman would walk in she would walk around and shake hands with all of the other women in the room before she found her seat, something we typically would not see in the U.S.
Some dads started to walk in, but it took me a moment to observe that the dads were entering through another door and where sitting on the opposite side of the room. So naturally, Culture shock #3. Separation of men and women. The men would only greet the men and would sit with the men. It was almost as if there was an imaginary boundary that could not be crossed. Naturally there were more women than men, and the women sat at the back of the room. The room started getting packed so the men were starting to have to get close to the women. If a man sat anywhere within a 3 foot radius of a woman, the whole side of women would do a shift towards the back so as to stay as far as possible from any male. Culture shock #4.
This sure was an interesting situation to be in. Luckily I was wearing a hair cover so I did not stand out like a sore thumb. I fit in pretty well if i do say so myself, if only had a smaller nose then no one would be able to tell I wasn't Asian.
Culture shock #5. The conference began with a prayer. A 15 minute prayer, that we would never see in the U.S. Everyone of all ages knew what was going on and what was happening, and what to say. I was about to pass out with the heat of no A.C. and a room packed with over 100 people. Indonesians are pretty much champs at not showing that they are dying in the heat.
Well the conference came to an end, and it ended with another prayer in islamic. I was so confused, but just smiled when someone smiled at me. I think I did not too shabby for my first Islamic experience. But it may be my last one since I can not wear a head wrap in this heat again, I almost had a heat stroke.
On a plus note. Arita got #1 in her class with the best scores out of her grade. Ibu just kept saying Arita #1. #proudmommoment #cultureshocks #indonesia
I have officially completed my FIRST week in Indonesia!
This country is truly beautiful. Everything is beautiful! The scenery, the people, the language, the culture, the food! I may be in the honey moon stage, but I love it!
Thus far we have done so much in just one week! And we have ate so much! So far my favorite thing to eat in the world has become Es Kampur. Like damn, it is like you have taken a sip or a bite of the most tropical fruitful forest you could find, like your taste buds have found their soulmate basically. No but really its pretty bomb.
We have been UP and DOWN. It seems as though traveling will never end! But atleast the trip has been allowing me to slightly step out of my shell and talk a little more. I'm actually not a shy person, but for some reason no matter what I find it difficult meeting new people. And these people are all great and extremely inspirational, maybe I'm intimidated! All in all I have met some amazing people, with great qualities.
We had the opportunity at the beginning of the week to visit a current volunteer's school. This was such a highlight! We had a full on concert and one of the girls got down and started rapping one of Mackelmore's songs. Pretty danm sick. The students were ecstatic to meet up and show us their school. I have never felt so welcomed, the volunteer said when he showed up for his first day they welcomed him with a full on parade! I guess Indonesians really know how to welcome people!
This past Sunday we moved in with our Host families in the city of Kediri. I was assigned to the Village named Wonorejo! Such a cute village. My host family is great and works really hard to make me feel welcomed. The family consists of a beautiful Mother, daughter (16), younger daughter (8), and a son who isn't around much. The father works in Korea, but I did get to Skype with him to meet him! Seems like a pretty chill dude!
I am so excited for these next few weeks in Wonorejo! I'll have more on my host family for you all next time! Sampai Jumpa!