It’s about time for an update! Most/all of you who follow my blog will know this by now, but just to make it official (and to give you the juicy details), I will be heading off to East Java, Indonesia as an English Teaching Peace Corps Volunteer on April 2nd, 2012! It only took 13 days for my Peace Corps packet to make its way to my house, via UPS, from the time it was sent from D.C. Needless to say, it was a long 13 days and I was pretty anxious to find out my news. Luckily I found out as soon as I got my packet because underneath my name and address was “INDONESIA” in bold…I didn’t even have to wait to open the envelope! 🙂
I had been worried that when I found out my country I would freak out. This tends to be my normal response to big news, especially when I’ve been antsy and waiting for a long time. Maybe it’s knowing that all my possible options have collapsed into one black-and-white reality. I don’t know. Then after a day or two, I’m happy as a clam. Anyway, I was prepared to have that reaction but actually it was just the opposite. I was so excited to find out it was Indonesia, mostly because Charis grew up there so it seems more familiar to me than most other Asian countries. Instead of freaking out I just skyped Charis and Josh to share the news. So exciting!
Here’s the deets: I will be on the island of Java, which is the same island that is home to the capital, Jakarta, although Jakarta is on the west side and I will be somewhere on the east. According to local expert Charis, this is the most populated island. And that’s sayin’ something when your country has over 17,000 islands! I will be teaching English to 10th and 11th graders in either a state school or a Muslim school (which is still run through the government…Indonesia is indeed a Muslim country, and I’ve heard it is the country with the highest number of Muslims in the world). Both school systems include religion and have the same curriculum. Some current volunteers teach as many as 580 students (!!), so I’m going to have my hands full. I’ll be living with a host family. I should probably have internet and hopefully a cell phone so I won’t be completely out of touch with the outside world. 🙂 I’m pretty darn close to the equator so it should be really hot and humid (ugh). Add that to the fact that Indonesia is a conservative Muslim country where everyone wears lots of clothes (i.e., long-sleeved shirts and skirts/pants because you can’t expose your shoulders or knees) and that will mean a lot of HOT days.
When I first get to Indonesia I will be in training for 10 intense weeks. I’ll be learning the national language, bahasa Indonesia, and I may be learning a secondary language on top of that. I will also be doing technical training which means I will be learning how to teach English (TEFL). And lastly I’ll be doing cultural training which includes learning about Islam. During that time I’ll be somewhere in East Java with other Peace Corps Volunteers and living with a host family (but I’m 80% sure it’s a different host family than the one I will be with for 2 years because I won’t be at my assignment yet). Sometime during training I will find out my assignment. In June I will be sworn in as a volunteer and go to my assignment and live with a host family there and start teaching in July.
It’s going to be quite the adventure! Oh and that photo up there? Yeah, that’s Indonesia, looking gloriously warm and tropical. I actually got that photo straight from the Peace Corps website where current volunteers have uploaded some photos so it’s quite possible that I could be snapping the same photos in a few months.