Alumna Blog: On Assignment in Indonesia
aerobics ... nuff said
by Lauren Ebersole '07
I would like to start this e-mail with a little story about differences in perception. This past Monday, my cluster taught at a different school, one in Batu rather than Malang. We were told the first class would start at 7 a.m. Unfortunately, we were not told there was a ceremony at 7 and that class would not actually start until 7:45, but that is not the important part of the story. We were sitting in the principal's office when a student was carried to the health room on a stretcher. About a minute later another student went by on a stretcher, then another, and another. We are sitting watching this happen, hoping it was just a first aid class. After the 6th student we did some investigating to find out that the students had passed out from the cold. Yes, you read that correctly — the cold!! Now granted it was a bit cooler that morning, but I'm talking 78 instead of 85 degrees.
Last Saturday, the university invited all 19 volunteers to an English Department gathering where we would meet the faculty and students. We were told the first part was an aerobics class that we didn't have to participate in followed by games and discussions with the students. We arrived part way through the aerobics, but this was no regular aerobics. It was pretty much a dance class and if anyone knows me they know I was the first one to join the mass of Indonesians for dancing. Definitely a highlight.
*A special note for college friends — my co-volunteers were impressed by my ability to pick up the choreography and I can only attribute that to my lip-sync background.
After the dancing, we sat down with the students to talk about ourselves, America, education, and anything else they wanted to know. We had about a thousand pictures taken. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be a celebrity, come to Indonesia and stand in a public place. After the program, the university faculty took us to Pizza Hut, nicest Pizza Hut I've ever seen. So I have now been to both KFC and Pizza Hut in Indonesia in about a month. That is a higher fast food rate than when I'm in the U.S.
We remain undefeated in soccer with another sound victory last Saturday.
Sarah's host grandfather passed away last week. Evidently a Javanese tradition is to bring sugar to the loved ones of the deceased.
Our cluster record for people in a mikrolet is 20; we are still 3 behind the group record.
Indonesian culture is much less direct than American. Evidently sometimes yes means yes, but sometimes it also means no. I don't think I know the difference yet.
The other day Sarah's host mother told me I had a nose like a woodpecker, but then she said bercanda — just kidding — , so everything was o.k.
On Thursday, we attended a Ruwatan, which required all 19 volunteers to dress up in traditional Javanese attire. I don't exactly know what Ruwatan is, but I believe it was a ceremony to keep the Mayor of Batu and his staff safe. We spent much of the day in a salon, where our hair was teased beyond belief and about 5 pounds of make-up was applied to our faces. My skirt was especially tight and required more of a shuffle than a walk. Clearly right up my alley; I always love a good costume. Indonesians tend to not smile in pictures so if you see any photos of us volunteers not smiling it is because we are trying to fit in.
Well that's all for now ... keep the responses coming.
Love always, Lauren
PHOTOS: On Assignment in Indonesia