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Sunday, June 27, 2010

By the light of the moon and the last meow

In my village Sunday mornings are special. It’s the only day the kids don’t have to go to school so they get up early and hang out together. Early, as in dark, very dark. Today I was the first person out of my little compound. I live down an alley with 4 big houses and a little shed where an elderly woman and two cows live. (I think.) Across my alley there is a gate. I never noticed it before but today I went out walking at 5am and the very old man who rides a bicycle and smiles a lot and makes a fire in Dr. Rina’s backyard – I don’t know who he is, maybe Dr. Rina’s father or a night watchman. Dr. Rina is a single female internal medicine specialist MD. (I think.) Anyway, he was still fixing his bicycle and so I opened the gate myself.

On the street near me there were several hundred teenagers and middle school kids and some parents out walking, or riding bikes or just sitting on the bridges gabbing with friends. A group of boys had started a little bon fire by the side of the road. I was using my flashlight for the first 20 minutes or so – if I heard a motorcycle I would shine it on the road so they would know I was there. I saw another person with a flashlight last week, that’s when I got the idea.

The moon was absolutely beautiful. The active volcano which is just about 10 miles from my house had a little smoke coming out. I had felt a few tremors during the night. Earthquakes no longer feel strange. The moon lit landscape was absolutely stunning. There are a few houses and shops on the street, but mostly it is lined with terraced rice fields as far as you can see, which is pretty far in moon light. Actually every mile or so there is a road with more houses on it. Little villages all over the place. I don’t know if I told you, but Java is the most densely populated island in the world. From my house I can see Mt.Kelud, the active volcano, Mt. Kawi and Mt. Butek and farther off I can see the wild and desolate Mt. Bromo / Semeru National Park with the highest peak approx.12,000 feet high. Remember this is an island; the ocean (sea level) is about 10 miles away in the other direction.

For security reasons I’m not allowed to tell exactly where I live in this blog and in fact about ½ of East Java would fit the description I just gave you. But my special place is the prettiest! The people are usually very quiet in the morning. As I pass each one I bring my hands together and bow a little or just say “Mongo” (Javanese) or “Selamat Pagi” (Indonesian) or Good Morning. I love saying Good Morning to the kids. They suddenly realize that I can speak English and try out every phrase they remember. Usually they say “Good morning, Sir.” or “How are you?” or “My name is -----.” Or “Where are you going?” or “Good Morning, Oma.” I always say “Bagus sekali” (very good) when they say something in English. I figure my job here is to teach English so I might as well encourage them as much as I can.

This morning there were some very young boys smoking cigarettes and when they asked if they could stand next to me and take my picture, I said yes, but only if they put the cigarettes down. (This was all in Indonesian.) They replied, yes, of course, and put them down and were thrilled to take a photo. What the heck, if I can encourage a little bit of no-smoking, that seems good too.

As the daylight came I headed home because I wanted to attend the little church near my house. It’s 2 hours of solid Indonesian, and I can still only get a glimpse of what is being said, but they have great songs and one of my favorite old ladies, one who told me she was 78 years old goes to this church.

I walked past the place where I heard the last meow.
It happened like this: One morning early I heard a little kitten crying as I was walking next to the rice paddy. I stopped at approx. the place where I heard the sound and looked in the bushes nearby. To my surprise there was an absolutely still, lying on its side, little kitten no more than 6 inches from my foot. I felt sad. Here I had heard its last meow and now it was dead, fallen over by the side of the road, sprawled on its side with its feet sticking part way up in the air. We’re not allowed to touch animals because of rabies so I said a little prayer and kept on walking, feeling sad for that little kitten.

The next day I walked by the same place and the kitten was meowing loudly. I laughed. It was the absolutely best “playing dead” act I had ever seen. I considered taking it home – no pets allowed (Peace Corps Indonesia rule) and my family doesn’t have cats, the neighbor across from me already has 4 cats and besides how could I get it home without picking it up. (I really don’t want to take the rabies shots.) So I stood there and told that kitten to just keep up the noise, that someone else would come by and take care of it.

Anyway, today I walked past the last meow place and there was no kitten! Yea! Maybe it went home with somebody. As usual, I don’t know. At our staging event in San Francisco where we all assembled to begin this journey we were given the following advice: “Embrace the ambiguity!”

PS Yesterday I bought a pair of socks. They were stretched on a piece of cardboard so I opened up the package to see if they were long enough. They looked great! Today I took them off the cardboard and discovered that the inside one is about 2 inches shorter than the other. Embrace the ambiguity!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You are so nice, Oma, you must be Muslim

Today I went up the mountain to attend an English Camp for middle school students. The headmaster of the school had spoken with my vice principal and my English teacher and myself on Monday and asked if I could please go to his school on Wednesday. The headmaster has a daughter who attends my school. She and I had taken the bus together the week before to visit a different English teacher’s home. Mr. Ali, the headmaster, arrived with his car and picked up Mrs. Sulis, the English teacher and I and drove us for about 20 minutes up past rice fields and rivers and steep rural places where the road had washed out to a little school. His was the only car on the grass parking area. There were 8 motorcycles also parked there. We walked into the school office and were immediately served little multicolored sponge cakes and deep fried bread with sugar wrapped around bananas. I love Indonesian hospitality!

Then were taken around the corner of the school building and saw that there was a small tent erected and in front of that on the grass in the shade, blankets were spread and I counted 95 students sitting and smiling. There were tables set up at the front with chairs for 8 people and a loud speaker system and a small stage with a microphone and 4 potted plants. Each of the students had a number written on a paper and pinned to his/her shirt. This school is a Muslim middle school and students graduating from this school could potentially attend my Madrasah for High School. All the girls and women teachers wore jilbabs covering their hair, ears and necks. The girls that I saw sitting on the blankets had long pants on and long sleeve shirts. The boys had on long pants and short sleeve shirts.

I greeted the students with the standard Arabic statement that begins each teaching session and they answered with the Arabic response. It is a prayer it’s also what my host family says to each family member when they wake up in the morning. I then sat down at the special place they had designated for me. The announcer began the program with the Arabic prayer and then I gave a short introduction about who I was and where I came from and where I live now telling them that I was the new English teacher at the Madrasah – speaking a little in English, mostly in Indonesian and a little Jawa language thrown in from time to time. Then the announcer began to call out numbers and the students with that number came forward and presented their poem, or song or speech in English.

Each student gave me a photo copy of his presentation. The English teacher sat beside me and on a score sheet graded each student as they did their presentation. Here are some selections from their works:

Poem to Mom:
Mother… is a woman who is always ready when my stomach feels hungry and thirsty
When I woke up in the morning, noon and night.
Mother… you are skinny because I, you sacrificed everything for me.
Mother… which can only pray for you I dedicate
Because your services not rewarded.
Mother… I love you so much
Also to my dad….!!!

My Friend (This one was performed with sad eyes and kneeling, pleading, looks)
Why you to leave me, In a moment I am sick, in a moment I am to need.
My Friend… what these is that the name Friend so that sick my to feel while you leave me.
I am so distant for seek substitute you. But not that same like you.

Weary… I to stand in under sun beam
Since you strike along keep away go
Until this hair begin whiten
As yet.. I don’t discover you come back.
Powerful my love never brittle
Never vanished space and time
Entrust this loyalty
For honesty, I love you.

To headmaster that I respectfully, father and mother teacher, that I respectfully again with Friend class nine that I affection. Permite we stand in platform represent friend class nine for convey to program separation it. To youngers class affection, during three years certain free sex. ( I think he looked up something in a dictionary and it gave him this translation. The dictionaries are not always accurate. No one in the audience or the judging staff reacted to this statement. I didn’t hear it accurately and only happened to glance down at his written paper.)

I miss U
Three days honey I passed it
But it so help self three year its time
Without your present in my eye balls
Just your face shades fill my brain.

Body you layers soul steel
In the beast layers spirit freedom
You advanced to batter enemy
Determined you one, Indonesia free (The students cheered at this.)

After about an hour of songs and poems and speeches they asked me to please sing a song. I made up a song (in English) about how much I enjoyed visiting their school and meeting them. Then they wanted more, so I asked if they knew “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and they did so we sang that together.

Then they wanted me to speak some more so I brought out my little 3 x 5 cards with information printed on them. My name is Colleen Young. Please call me Oma. My favorite color is green. My favorite food is nasi pecel. I have 3 children Etc. and passed out the cards to the students. Then I went back and asked each student with a card to read the information out loud. Then I repeated it, then had the whole student body repeat the information in English. I would occasionally ask them a question. “What is my favorite color?” or ‘How many grandchildren do I have?” to see if they were understanding the material.

By this time the students were not so shy and a few of them had some questions for me. The first question they always ask is “How old are you?” In Indonesia, it is very important to know because you use different levels of speech to address a person older or younger than yourself. I always answer this question by making them guess my age. I begin by saying: Am I fifteen? They laugh and say no. Then I say “Am I twenty?” No, how old am I? What do you think? As the age guess increase I repeat the numbers in English and Indonesia and I tell them “higher” or “lower” till someone guesses the right age (61) and then I say ‘Correct” in Indonesian and everyone cheers.

At this point the English teacher at the little school tells me:
“You are so nice, Oma, you must be Muslim.” My eyes get tears; I am so touched by the love they shower on me. No, I am not Muslim. How can I tell you, I don’t have the words in any language, who we are is more than our religion, more than our nationality and I am finding out that who we are is more than even the concept we have of ourselves.

They give me a frame with an announcement about the English “Weekend Camp 2010.” It’s Wednesday, never mind. Then all the teachers leave the students and go back to the office. In the corner of the office there is a little sink and we wash our hands and I am given a decorated cardboard box with white rice and spicy fried leaves and fried corn fritters and a piece of beef and 2 tiny bananas wrapped in plastic and a blue boiled duck egg. We all eat with our fingers. I have heard that food tastes better when it is eaten with fingers and I think it’s true!

The English teacher at the middle school tells me to please never forget her and the sweet memories we make today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why do Americans have spots?

I was sitting on the steps of the masjid (mosque) with the girls who were excused from prayers because of menstruation. The 50 or so girls were gathered around and the religion teacher who always smiles was letting the girls speak quietly with me. Usually they need to be silent while the others are praying. Linda knows a lot of English so she was helping her friends who were shy. A girl named Happy was sitting next to me, gently stroking my arm and asked me:

Why do Americans have spots?

I looked at my arm and sure enough, there were spots all over. I explained that not all Americans have spots, but that I did because I was old. Now I am wondering. Was she asking about freckles?

I’m trying to retrain my brain to distinguish faces. All the girls at my school are covered from head to foot, no ankles showing. And they are all dressed the same with identical uniforms and jilbabs, all you see are their faces and hands. They are all short with sweet round faces and big brown eyes and smooth creamy latte colored skin. And there are about 600 girls and 150 boys. They boys look and behave different. I can see their ears and necks and hair. There are a lot more visual clues to distinguish them. I have to concentrate harder with the girls. And people in Indonesia have multiple names: their legal name on the school roster, the name they usually use, which is often a few syllables out of their long name, and the nickname that the other kids give them. There are no last names, but often people have 2 or 3 multi syllable names (5-10 sounds to remember for each person.)

The girls have started coming up to me and taking my hand and pressing it to their cheek or forehead as a sign of respect. As I’m walking around town kids on motorcycles will call out “Oma!” That’s my name here. At my training village, my family called me that and it just fits. It’s the Dutch word for “grandma.” All the Indonesians and lots of the Americans call me that now. I introduce myself as “Oma Colleen. Please call me Oma.” I like being a grandma and it’s an easy name for people to remember.

In my village which has about 4000 high school kids enrolled in several high schools there are no other foreigners. I asked. There was a man who used to come from an hour away and visit occasionally but he left a year ago. One word that people ask me all the time is: Sendiri? Alone? I get offered rides on motor bikes every day. It’s difficult for Indonesians to understand that Peace Corps volunteers are not allowed to even sit on a motorcycle. I explain that if I sit down on one and someone takes a photo that I will be sent home to America. The idea that I walk alone is so strange to them.

My family is wonderful. Their daughter spent some time in America and she gave her mom some Coke Zero so every lunch I get 3 ounces of Coke Zero with ice! For breakfast this morning I had sardines in tomato sauce, white rice, cassava leaves and carrot soup, fried shrimp (I think – they have lots of legs and antennas and little bodies, maybe they are some kind of crawdad/shrimp) and 2 kinds of bananas..

It rains almost every day. Just before it pours it gets really hot and humid. My body is readjusting to this new level of heat. Three months ago the initial heat rash went away without much intervention. These new spots on my back, neck and legs are just wave two. I read the Peace Corps medical manual and it recommends keeping the skin cool and dry, bathing with mild soap, wearing light weight loose fitting cotton clothing and avoiding sitting on plastic or vinyl and drinking plenty of water and don’t scratch. Okay, Dr. Lyn, I’m doing all the appropriate things.

Why do Americans have spots? Why do people sweat and get old? Why are the children in Indonesia so charming? Why would a little teenage girl sit next to met and think I know the answers to life's questions?

This isn’t your daughter’s Peace Corps

Okay, this is my version of the challenges of living in Indonesia. I am absolutely sure that this reflects only my opinion and not that of any other volunteer, Peace
Corps staff or government official.

Since joining Peace Corps I have learned how to blog, how to get data into a flash disk, into a computer and back out again, how to take pictures from the camera, put them in the computer and onto places on the internet, how to get on face book, how to buy a cell phone, install a SIM card, how to text, how to text with the dictionary, how to add words to the dictionary, how to use an ATM card. I’ve bought a new laptop computer, figured out how to use the finger keypad and find the new and different programs to do the things which I used to be able to do easily. I’ve learned how to set up a skye account and I’ve talked to my grandchildren and watched them in their living room while they watched me in Indonesia (for free!) on the computer. I’ve figured out how to install a modem, how to switch SIM cards from the cell phone to the modem, how to buy pulsa for the cell phone and the modem. (I still don’t know what pulsa is but it costs money and lets you do electronic things and when you run out all your electronic things stop. It might be how much signal time you use for your signal using things.) Now Peace Corps wants me to use a new ATM and I have to figure out why the bank won’t activate it. It’s using up all my pulsa trying to call the bank. I think it has something to do with the fact that the SIM card from my cell phone had to be switched with the SIM card from my modem. That’s the glitch that I can’t fix. (Which doesn’t work, by the way. The internet connection worked for a few days while I was here but has now disappeared. I’ve tried it in various different locations in the house.) The end result is that the phone number I submitted to the bank is now a screen in my computer and I have a new phone number.

Before Peace Corps I was just a grandma who didn’t know how to turn on the TV so her grandkids could watch videos, never rented a video in my life, didn’t use an ATM card – I went to the bank to get money, why use an ATM card? I could read and send email and talk on the phone. Texting (they call it SMS here – short message – I keep getting confused and calling it MSM but it’s not a messaging machine.) seemed crazy – something high school kids did. (Same with face book.) When ever I needed a new computer my kids helped me with it. I even shared a cell phone system with my daughter. I had no clue how to use a modem.

My Peace Corp application stressed my low tech life experience: giving birth to a baby on a dirt floor, living without electricity or running water and using an outhouse. I graduated from college 40 years ago. I’m 61. All the other volunteers in this country are 22-25 years old! I had no clue that Peace Corps service would require me to become techno savvy beyond my wildest dreams.

Thirteen year ago, when my daughter was in Peace Corps in Africa, she didn’t use a cell phone, didn’t text, didn’t use a computer, didn’t download pictures, didn’t have information to and from Peace Corps on a flash drive, (thumb drive - I think they call it a finger here and I know which finger!) She got her Peace Corps pocket money from a bank, not a machine. She didn’t have to buy pulsa or activate an ATM card.

You think adjusting to the heat and the humidity, the earthquakes, the new boss, the new co-workers, the new family, the new food, finding your way in a new town, meeting the new neighbors, figuring out what to wear that lets a little air in and still is respectful might be hard. Try doing all that with out being able to talk! Okay. I can talk a little. (Smile) Actually I’m surprised that most people do understand what I’m trying to say.

But I long for a conversation in English and it’s beyond frustrating that the only conversation I get to have in English is all about the technology which isn’t working and I don’t know why! My apologies to Evelyn. I have met 500 new people this past week: teachers, students, shop keepers, new family members, friends of new family and police officers and when she says “This is Evelyn,” all my memory banks go into overdrive to try to figure out who is this woman who is talking to me in really good English. Finally I figure out its Peace Corps and there’s MORE frustrating technology stuff I have to do because the previously frustrating technology got fixed with duct tape and now that seam is coming apart.

I’m LOL. Seriously, laughing is the only thing that seems to help. I have no clue how to get an Indonesian bank to understand what I don’t understand. I tried to uninstall the phone SIM card from the modem and use it in the cell phone but the signal in the sky knew I was doing something wrong, gave me one phone call and then refused to co-operate. But I did learn how to take the phone and the modem apart, rearrange them and put them all back together the right way. Laughing seems like the best option at this point!

This isn’t your daughter’s Peace Corps!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My permanent village

On Wednesday I met my new vice principal. We had a bilingual joint session where all the volunteers and the school representatives talked about our expectations. On Thursday I “graduated” from training, was sworn in by the US Ambassador to Indonesia, attended a big American/Indonesian party, packed my clothes and said goodbye to my host family. On Friday after some initial confusion about getting picked up by the Peace Corps car, I left with my 6 bags of stuff for the pick up location, where I met my vice principal and 3 other teachers for breakfast, then we drove to my new village.

The trip was approximately 2 hours and I think I am understanding words at about a 1 to 500 ratio. For every 500 words spoken, I think I get one. Maybe. For example (in English) I may know the word cat, which I think I hear, but the word may actually be catalog or catastrophe or caterpillar or catfish.

These are the specific duties that I am now to do in my new job:
Become familiar with current English language teaching practices through classroom observations, interviews and materials review.
Review current resources used in teaching English ( e.g., standards, curricula, text books, audio-visual and ICT resources, assessment tools, etc.)
Collaborate with principals and teachers to develop a work plan to support the needs/priorities of teachers and students.
Co-plan lessons in cooperation with teachers and develop supplementary teaching materials to support the national curriculum and standards….plus 6 more paragraphs

Okay, if you are still reading this at this point I am impressed. So I am sitting in the car and thinking these delightful people really seem to be enjoying each other and when ever they laugh, I also laugh and occasionally when I hear a word I think I understand I say a sentence that I hope makes sense. And they laugh some more and I laugh.

Now if I were the vice principal at this point, I would seriously be wondering if this strange old lady in the back seat really can do any of this job description. I certainly haven’t demonstrated any degree of competency so far.

We arrive at the new village and the first place we need to go is the police station. In Indonesia, you are not allowed to spend the night in a new place unless you tell the local police. The copies of the documents are not the right size so the vice principal makes an appointment to go back tomorrow. We stop by a copy place and he makes a lot of copies of my passport, visa, Indonesian student ID card and my US drivers license, which just happened to be in with my passport. I don’t think I should have put it in there. My drivers license is from New Mexico and my permanent home on the ID card is in Utah. No one comments on this and neither do it. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

Then we go to my home stay family. Those are the words that my vice principal uses. My fellow teachers help me unload all my gear and leave. I meet a delightful woman who shows me around her beautiful home. I will be sleeping upstairs in a room with a single bed, desk and a cabinet for keeping clothes. There is another room upstairs which is for her youngest child who is not living here now. There are two bathrooms downstairs and 2 kitchens. And two fish ponds and two dining rooms. She asks about the payment and I give her the money that Peace Corps has told us to give for food. She seems surprised so I take out the English version and the Indonesian version of the Principal/Counterpart handbook and show her the words in Indonesian that mean I will pay for the food and that the school will compensate her for the housing. Her married daughter arrives and tells me in English that she spent time in America and offers to help me. She explains that other people live here too.

In the evening I meet the 4 Indonesian nurses who live in the house. I can now see that the house is set up like a boarding house, but I am living in the family part.

My ibu, I think I will call her “mother” even though she is about 10 years younger than I am, wants to know what I want to eat. I explain that I eat everything. She really wants more specific information. I try to remember the name for every Indonesian food but I’m not doing very well. Erna, her daughter asks if I want to go with her to buy some hamburger, I say sure. We go outside but I need to tell her that I’m not allowed to ride a motorcycle. Almost everyone in Indonesia drives motorcycles. She says no problem and we walk to a place with 5 freezers against a wall and Anna buys a package of frozen patties and maybe 10 hamburger buns.

My ibu cooks the food and I have a hamburger. The meat is red and tastes like spam and there is cheese on the bun too. It’s the first time I have a hamburger in Indonesia. Anna tells me that her son likes to eat a hamburger every morning. In the morning I get another hamburger with an egg on it. For lunch there is a glass of coke with ice and hot dog vegetable soup. I am worried that if they try to feed me imported food there won’t be enough money.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The father of the family is a wonderful man who wants to practice English and shows me his grammar book which is so complicated I can understand why people think English is hard. I bring out my easy Indonesian – English book and we practice a few phrases. He is a retired assistant manager from a big forestry products company. He explains that he had a stroke 3 years ago and thanks be to God, has recovered so well that he can now walk and speak, things that he couldn’t do 3 years ago. At least I think that’s what he’s telling me. There are many teak furniture pieces in my house and my host father shows me the teak reclining pool lounge chairs in the living room that his company ships to America.

In the morning I get up early and walk around a bit. It’s about a 12 minute walk to my school past rice fields and little stores, then I go home and wait for my vice principal who is also an English teacher to come and we make some more copies – this time of my home stay father’s ID card showing the address where I will live and go back to the police station. It’s all good and I am now, I think, an official resident of this little village near Blitar, Indonesia. Peace Corps policy for security reasons is to not list the actual locations where volunteers are stationed.

We then go to the school so I can meet the teachers. My school had requested that I wear the teacher uniform and a head scarf. I have decided to wear the Muslim jilbab in a non-Muslim way, so that I can get some air on my neck and hopefully survive the heat and not have my ears covered so I hear a little better. It’s much warmer here than it was at my training village and a lot more humid. The headmaster is in Singapore so I can’t meet him yet.

My school is a national Muslim school (Maderasah) for senior high school students. My town has several other non-Muslim high schools and this one madrasah. I think all students in Indonesia study Islam, but at a madrasah students can take the Islam tract, as well as, Science, Language or Social Studies tract. I go into a large room where all the teachers have an individual desk. There are several milling around but the Vice Principal wants me to wait a bit for some more to come in, then I give a little introduction about myself in half English and half Indonesian. I like the teachers. One religion teacher and the 2 women English teachers are very welcoming. I think I meet the 4th English teacher, besides the vice principal, but right now I can’t remember their names or faces. It looks like there are maybe 40 desks for teachers in the teacher lounge. Each class of students has their own classroom and the teachers rotate so that whoever is teaching that subject goes into that classroom at the right time.

Then we go to an English class and I spend maybe 20 minutes introducing myself and talking with them and encouraging them to ask questions and complimenting them when they speak English. My strategy is to speak as much Indonesian as I can so they (teachers and students) will find out how horrible I am at it and maybe they will have some courage about speaking English. It seems to work. I have a fun time with the students. My vice principal explains that this coming week is finals preparation for the school so I won’t be teaching until school resumes sometime in July. The tentative date right now is July 12.

If I understand correctly, Indonesian students get a school break for about a month in June / July each year. They attend class Monday through Saturday and get Sundays off. And there are 14 Indonesian holidays when they get a day off. I now know why the Asian college students seemed so more dedicated – school is serious business here, not the 5 days a week, 3 months summer break, plus fall break, winter break, spring break system that we are used to.

In the afternoon I am supposed to go with my counterpart – an art teacher from the school who lives close to me, I think. He comes to my house but I don’t go with him. I think maybe he has visited the RW and RT without me. They are the local heads of the little tiny area of the village where I live. I’m not sure. But when I ask if I should go with him he says No. Technically, our counterpart is supposed to act as a cultural guide and help us integrate into the community. I think that will happen more with the friends I am making both in my family and at the school. My vice principal, who is also the person in charge of the curriculum and is an English teacher is the one who is helping me with all the ins and outs of getting everything done.

My host family daughter has tried to help me get set up with an internet connection. We have to go to Blitar to the telecommunications office to get it registered. She has offered to take me there tomorrow.

My second morning in my new village I wake up with the 4:00am prayers and then go walking a little after 5:00 as soon as the sky gets to be a little light. There are LOTS of people out walking. I pass several hundred people our in the “cool” (relatively) morning air. The teenagers are hanging with friends, walking and chatting. Some of them call out, “Good morning, Mister.” I smile and greet them. One brave young girl asks me where I come from and I stop and talk with her and her friend. They are students at my school. I cross the street to hold hands with the old women and sing little songs with babies. They are my favorites. This village is a mix of homes and little shops and rice fields. It’s more rural than my training village. I like it here!

In the night I wake up and feel the room shaking. My home stay family had explained that were lots of earthquakes here. They also said that there were tsunamis (I think, remember all this is in Indonesian) but we are about an hour drive from the ocean. The volcano I can see from my window is an active one. Sounds like an adventure to me! Home sweet home for the next 2 years!