Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Six Month Returnee Report

Hello and happy new year!

It has been on my mind for quite some time to write a sort of closing for this blog--but my adventure isn't over!
They say that an exchange experience lasts twice as long as the length of time spent abroad--because of the readjustment period once back in the culture of origin. This has been my experience! I'm six months into my readjustment to American culture. It has had its ups and downs.

I literally just opened the Christmas package from my Indonesian host transit family (when I was staying in Jakarta for End of Stay Orientation just before coming back to the States). They are SO sweet!
I'm trying to upload a picture of it, but it's not working. They sent me a T-shirt with our family picture on it, a CD of the video they make of my Kota-Tua photo shoot (inserted below),
 and a coffee mug with our family picture on it!
Take my word for it, it's EXTREMELY CUTE!

It's times like these that I'm so impressed and in awe of the generosity and thoughtfulness of my Indonesian family and friends. I feel bad I didn't send them anything 0.0

Obviously, I miss Indonesia tremendously (now I feel like I didn't savor it enough), and wish I communicated more with my host family. The thing about Skyping is that the connection is always horrible between Karawang and the US--about two minutes seems to be the tip-top duration of a constant connection.  One of my resolutions is to send them more communications via email and Facebook. This is no small feat for me, as I struggle to respond to social media in a timely fashion--I'm obviously very slow at updating my blog!

If I had to name one thing that I learned from my year abroad, it would be compassion.
My Ibu Susi was one of the most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. She is a woman filled with grace and humbleness. I want to emulate her way of relating to people. She is so caring and an extremely devoted mother, wife, aunt, grandmother, sister, sister in law, AFS volunteer, host mother, you name it. She showed me such kindness after I'd had a rough start with my first host family. My entire host family was so kind and nurturing to me. My transit family was also very amazing and loving (as evidenced they sent me a thoughtful Christmas package). I am tremendously grateful for all of my host families and friends! It's with much gratitude and appreciation that I remember all of my amazing experiences in Indonesia.
I pushed myself to try new things like traditional Jaipong dance--which was especially intimidating to me since I've never considered myself a dancer. I braved an Indonesian Elementary School and taught students for a bit--they are extraordinarily adorable but understandably routy around a foreigner. I made friends in my school and had very rewarding dialogues about religion, tolerance, freedom, free thought, and the future of Indonesia. Many smile and laughs were also shared as I made many mistakes in various areas. Some of them turned into ongoing jokes, such as mixing up the word for head "kepala" and coconut "kelapa." :)

It is with a glad hear that I will look back upon this year and smile at the lifetime of new and unique experiences. Some things didn't match up with my preconceptions, but those were the times when I learned the most!

With much anticipation I look forward to continuing my adventures in Indonesia! 
Actually, I'm already scheming to go back! Perhaps I'll have the opportunity to continue blogging about future adventures to Indonesia! :)

For now, I'm very happy to be home and start my college career. 
Since I've become vegan, I've had many cooking endeavors and really enjoy cooking when I'm home from college (I only have a microwave at college). I feel great and have been on a huge learning curve of food justice education--this was sparked in Indonesia when I was able to know the people who grew my food and see the farmers butcher the meat, etc. 

My college doesn't offer bahasa indonesia, but I've found some Indonesian students attending my university! Haha, I'm a member of the Association of Indonesian students! University in America is worlds apart from SMA in Karawang, sometimes it can be overwhelming and I feel guilty for having so much. But, I know that all my opportunities are building blocks to foster change in the world. The abundance of resources I have now I plan to use to catalyze positive change. My experiences have made me more appreciative and grounded. My outlook is different and I feel that I have a more complete image of the world, though I also recognize that I'll always be learning about the world and my perspective will always be reforming to some extent. It was an unforgettable year--the biggest adventure of my life so far, and I couldn't be more grateful. This year I look forward to sharing about my experience to forge even more links of cultural understanding. Hopefully, I'll even get to share my Jaipong dance (if I can remember it and find the song...haha).

This program meant so much to me. I don't know how else to express my warm-fuzzies for it and the people who were a part of it!


Happy New Year!
Love and peace unto you,

Amy H-F