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Saturday, March 10, 2012

My "Peace Mission" in the newspaper

Here is an approximate translation of this article in the Jawa Pos, a regional newspaper that is widely distributed in my area

Happy in Blitar

Colleen Young, grandmother of the volunteers from the American peace mission, veiled, admits that Islam in Indonesia is about peace and love.

There are three Peace Corps volunteers from the United States serving a mission of peace in schools in the Blitar area. Although dusk has aged her, Colleen Young still has spirit. Grandma, 63 years old, serves at Madrasah Alliyah Affairs (MAN) Wlingi, Blitar. Here's the report.

Last Saturday (25 Feb.) in a religious ceremony at MAN Wlingi a female caught my attention. Her face was very strange for the audience of thousands who follow these “prayer ceremonies.” She is Colleen Young, a resident of the United States. She is a volunteer from the Peace Corps, an independent U.S. government agency engaged in the deployment of volunteers all over the world.

At the show, Colleen Young, called “Oma”- look gorgeous wearing a gray Muslim garment. Her matching color headscarf looked fashionable. Although not a Muslim, Oma is getting used to the cloth covering the nakedness of women. Initially, the white woman admitted a little trouble using the hood.
She felt a swelter because Indonesia has very hot weather. That's very different than America. In addition, another difficulty is that wearing the jilbab made it a little difficult to hear because of the age factor. "It is hard for me to hear when I wear the jilbab." she said.

In this Islamic High School Oma has been one of the English teachers since June 2010. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she also brings a peace mission by introducing Americans to the Indonesian people, especially students. Vice versa, she has a duty to introduce Indonesia and especially Islam in Indonesia, to the American people. "To show the people of Indonesia what America is. And, to tell the American people about Indonesia, "she explained.

This peacekeeping mission, according to her, is important in order to erode the stigma that the American people have against Islam.

So far, the Muslims are always synonymous with terrorism. Moreover, Indonesia is a country with the greatest of the world's Muslim population. "Once, when I heard the word “Muslim family”, they always said that Muslims are terrorists. But after I saw for myself in Indonesia, it is not proven. “She added.

In Blitar, Oma lives with a resident in the district of Wlingi. She said she was happy with the family. Oma claimed to have considered it as her own family. In fact, when the fasting month arrived, Oma also fasted.

Although the mission is to bring peace, Oma does not teach students about the religion that she embraced, namely Christianity. But she is open to teachings about Islam. "I do not teach them about Christianity, but they taught me about Islam…obviously." she said, laughing.

Colleen came to Indonesia in March 2010. However, she arrived in Blitar in June of that year, because volunteers had to undergo training in Indonesian language for three months in Batu, Malang. This year is the last year she will serve in Indonesia. She is a citizen of New Mexico, USA, and will return to her village in America on May 25, after her term expires.

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