Last Friday was a big day for the ID-6 trainees as we received the results of our language proficiency exam and found out where we will be living for the next two years. We were all a little distracted during the morning sessions since we knew that we were waiting on such a big announcement at the end of the day.
During the morning break, our country director found Will and me and told us that someone from the University of Kentucky was next door! We went to the neighboring building and sure enough, met a Vice Provost from UK who was visiting the University of Muhammadiyah Malang. Apparently UK has had a relationship with Indonesia for over 50 years, mostly focused on agriculture. It was wonderful to hear that friendly Kentucky accent and talk about our excitement over the Cats NCAA Championship victory. We took her card and promised to stay in touch. Small world.
After lunch we got the results of our language proficiency interviews. Last Sunday we went to the university in Malang and had 30 minute interviews with one of several certified Peace Corps language evaluators. The interviews were all spoken, and were meant to assess our readiness to to speak bahasa Indonesia at our permanent sites. All of the trainees needed to attain a level of “intermediate low” in bahasa Indonesia to avoid needing to take remedial language classes or having a tutor. I am happy to report that we both made the cut!
Then at 3:00pm came the site placement announcement. They led us outside, across the courtyard and to a shaded area. After we went down some stairs we saw a map of East Java drawn on the sidewalk in chalk with the different provinces labeled. They called names one by one and handed out our site information. We were instructed to see where we are going, and then go stand on the map. People were laughing and hugging and smiling as they saw friends nearby on the map, or learned they would be posted at the beach!
Will and I found out that we will be living in the province of Jombang in a village 45 minutes away from Jombang City. We will be three hours from Surabaya. Jombang is a bit of a transportation hub with busses and trains going through the city to and from many interesting places in Java. There is even a train that goes all the way to the eastern end of Java if we want to get to Bali that way. Public transportation to Jombang from our site is available 24/7.
Will will be teaching in a public high school (with a swimming pool!) and I will be teaching in a religious high school (with a female principal and counterparts!). Even though I’m teaching in a religious high school, the Peace Corps made it a condition of our teaching in those schools that we not be required to wear a jilbab (Muslim headscarf). The only difference between public high schools and religious high schools is that there are more hours of religious instruction in religious high schools—but since I’m teaching English, the difference is really hard to see.
We will be living in a large home with a 45 year old widow and a housekeeper. She has two college aged children as well, who I believe are away at school most of the time. Her husband died last year, and she wrote that she feels like her house is too big now and she looks forward to having more people share it. Our house will provide a lot of privacy for us, but since it’s gated we are expected to work on our community integration with more effort. Given that we’ll be teaching in two separate schools, I think this will double our opportunities for building relationships.
A current volunteer tells me that our site is a cute little town, very green, with many scenic backroads that feel very rural, but not too far from everything. We are very excited to see it for the first time and to meet our host family! We’ll head to our site after swearing in on June 15.
Time is flying by during training and before we know it, we’ll be packing up and moving on to the next chapter of this adventure. Luckily, we’ll only be three hours from our current village and we will have ample busses to choose from when we want to come back to visit our host families here.