On 15 April 2017 I left Kediri to visit my permanent site for three days. A Site Visit will allow each trainees to assess their future site (community and school) with the help of the host families and school counterparts. My site is in West Java, far far far away from Kediri. When I received my site placement the day before, I was not very thrilled to find out that I will be in West Jawa. It’s far from the friends that I’ve made–everyone is my friend, but my close ones are all going to be in East Java. I’ve heard so much about the west that I didn’t really want to be placed there. All these conceptions (later I found out were all wrong) scared me about being in the west.
I rode a “kereta api” (fire train) to the city of Bandung along with other relawan (volunteers) that got places in West Java too. Once we got there, we were welcomed with warm SELAMAT DATANG and “American” food by current volunteers who live nearby. It is always nice to see current volunteers, catching up with them, and hearing the ins/outs and dos/donts of being a volunteer! Their presence at the train station really made an impact on me and really got me hyped for my site.
After a late breakfast with everyone, four trainees (I myself included) rode a bus to our future site. My site is in the region of Sukabumi. It’s a mountainous region with an amazing view and cool (well, as cool as it can get here in Indonesia) air. My bus ride from Bandung to Sukabumi was about 4-5 hours. Honestly it’s not that far, it’s just really traffic in every corner of this country! Throughout my whole travel my future host family and counterparts were texting me, making sure that I am okay and comfortable as much as I can get. When I got to Sukabumi Bus Station, I was picked up by three of my counterparts. They welcomed me with warm smile and Sundanese greetings. My counterparts then took me to a restaurant where I’d meet my host family too. After dinner, my counterparts drove me to my house so that I can rest. My counterparts dropped me off, helped me settled, and then left me with my new host family.
My host family consist of my Pak Sudrajat, Ibu Devi, adik (younger brother) Dafa and Arkan. They’re all nice. I was already playing with Arkan (10yrs old) during my first night! My Bapak is funny and wouldn’t stop talking to me in broken English, my mom too! I met some other family too like my uncles who loves English! They are all really eager to learn English! It’s funny. My first night, I also met the head of the village, Pak RT and Pak RW. I had coffee with them while they smoke. I just felt right at home! I slept so well that night thanks to my nice hotelesque bed and pillow, and of course cool air temperature.
The next day I walked to my school (about 7mins walk) to meet with my counterparts and look at my future school. My counterparts introduced me to the student body (a total of about 1100 students) during an “upacara bendera” (flag ceremony.)
“Selamat pagi semua!” I said while my voice shakes on the microphone. I never liked talking on a microphone.
I was greeted with scream and Indonesian hellos. I introduced myself in English because my counterparts wanted me to speak in English to the students. I was probably babbling about myself in front of the students for about seven minutes. When I said “I will be in school all day today. If you see me, please say hi to me.” The girls (I SWEAR) started screaming. I definitely felt like a member of One Direction. LOL. After introducing myself to the students, I went to a faculty meeting where I introduced myself to the teachers. The teachers were all excited to have me over. they had a lot of questions for me and plans for me. I am really excited to start working with this school, community, faculty and staff, and of course the students. I also met with different heads of the six vocational programs the school has. While walking around the school, the school would say “I love you mister” or “Mister you’re so handsome” which made me laugh, because in America this would never ever happen! They would also “salim” (grab the back of my hand and touch their cheeks) me when I walk past them.
***Part 2 soon***