Let me first tease you all by saying: I KNOW WHERE MY PERMANENT SITE WILL BE!
And now I will treat you as I was treated and force you to wait until I’m done filling you in on the previous goings-ons to tell you where that place is.
Last week was fairly uneventful, thus the lack of blog. Although, I have to say, reconstructing the week in my brain took more effort than it should have. Last Friday we had our last language class (unless we failed our test). It was bittersweet to say goodbye to our super sweet language guru, Didit. They gave us the rest of the day to study for our LPI (Language Proficiency …Interesting? Intermediate? Inmate? Itchy? I have no idea.) test on Saturday. We, of course, used it to it’s full extend… to go see a movie in Malang. Hey, the way I look at it, if I didn’t know the language by Friday I certainly wasn’t going to learn it overnight. The time was better spent relaxing. So, in true klassy American style, we snuck in beer to Fast & Furious 6. The beer was warm and the movie was bad and I loved every minute of it all. We topped off our study session with the very epitome of American gluttony and ate at McDonald’s. Let me make it very clear that I would never frequent such an establishment in America. News flash: This is NOT America. So I enjoyed every bite of my American chicken sandwich and fries. We got lost on the way home, which seems pretty normal at this point, and managed to walk through the door at a whopping 9p. 9p in Indonesian standards may as well be the middle of the night. You have to understand, people get up here at 4/430a every day. (Thank you call to prayer.)
Saturday I suffered through the stupid LPI as gracefully as I knew how, which is to say, not very. I can speak the darn language well enough if you speak to me like a normal human. If you mumble at a pace that rivals the speed of sound, I will rip out your jugular and feed it to your mumbling remains. Ok, maybe that’s a little visceral, but now you understand my frustration. Hopefully I was able to show enough proficiency to avoid remedial classes. If not you’ll get a substantial rant at a later date.
Sunday was my hari libur (free day). I invited some folks over for Nasi Pecel at my house. Nasi Pecel is this delicious Eastern Java meal of rice (of course) covered in veggies and topped with a spicy peanut sauce. Ah-mazing. My Ibu made that and Mie Goreng (fried noodles that are roughly akin to chow mein) for the non-pecel lovers. After that deliciousness we had to get our fill of cute, so we walked over to the odd little stables near my house. Ah-dorable. I was able to feed my small horse friend and Courtney fed a baby deer. That’s right, we died a little on the inside from the amount of adorable.
Monday through Thursday was our site visit. All the new trainees get to visit current volunteers at their sites. It’s a way for us to learn how to travel on our own, ask questions of a current volunteer, and see how they live and work. There were six of us girls headed to the same general location, so we were able to travel together for a ways. 3 Angkots and 2 busses later, Katherine and I arrived in Melanie’s village. Her village is a relatively large one about 6 hours east of Malang. It was a beautiful ride, if somewhat longer than I would’ve liked.
We arrived and took a minute to warm up to one another over some delicious food from a local eatery. It quickly evolved into a fast friendship and an epic media share. I now have about 30 more movies (THANK GOODNESS!!) and, that’s right, every single new Doctor Who episode for this season. I managed to watch them all in two days. We got to visit Melanie’s school and help to play some review games. It was really a lovely time filled with fun slumber parties, girl talk, and relaxation.
I wasn’t until after I got back to my site that I realized how much I had missed it. It is amazing how quickly you learn to cling to the things that become familiar in a situation of such consistent unfamiliarity. I was so happy to see my bright green room and my familiar Mandi (even if the water here is FREEZING) and the people I have grown to appreciate.
It was the perfect build up to… dun dun DUN! Site announcements!!!!
So, we spent the day in various training sessions, none of which we paid any attention to. Finally they let us out for lunch, if only because we were like a pack of ravenous wolves waiting for the gimpy buffalo to fall from the pack. We consistently accosted those in charge during lunch to make sure we didn’t have to wait a moment longer than necessary. Finally, at 2:15p, Sultan led us to a vast chalk drawing of the island of Java. We sat impatiently and our regional managers began to read our names aloud. One by one we collected our placements. Each name called built the suspense a little more. Each name not my own made my stomach turn and my face contort. Finally, Sugi called me! It was everything I could do not to run up and snatch the paper from his outstretched hand.
I’m not sure how much I can reveal in such a public forum so all I will say here is that I will be located on the island of Java (as we mostly are at this time) on the western side of the island in a region called Gerut. I should have a mailing address in a couple weeks for family and friends so feel free to shoot me and email and I’ll let you know how to find me. I will be 7 hours away from the closest main city (Bandung) and I am about 1.5 km away from the beach. The. Beach. I’m probably about 30 minutes away from the closest volunteer (which is basically in each other’s laps!), Alan. We are also close to a series of about 3 other volunteers ranging from 1.5 hours away to 4 hours away by car. That would probably work out to much longer by Indonesian bus.
I’m really happy with my placement. I will be on a beach surrounded by a community that seems to be really excited about my coming. I’ll be teaching at an SMA, which is a High School, and I’ll be teaching 10th and 11th graders. I will be learning Bahasa Sunda for a week which will grossly under-prepare me for the language challenges I’ll face but I hear they speak mostly Bahasa Indonesia over there anyway. I’ve grown fairly good at that language. I’m really just so happy the anticipation is over! Wish me luck, folks.