Our last week of Pre-Service Training (PST) was full of free time, party planning (some things never change), hanging out and separation anxiety. We had our final Hub Day in Malang on Monday, and then we had Tuesday and Wednesday free.
Some of the host mom’s decided to host a going away party for the two Bulukerto training groups on Wednesday night, so there was a pretty extensive shopping trip on Tuesday which consisted of me, three host moms, Will and my three host brothers. Will was pretty much along to run after the little ones.
The Americans made American food and the Indonesians made Indonesian food. I spearheaded the menu planning (thinking of things you can prepare here without an oven, with ingredients available here, and converting everything into the metric system is kind of a puzzle), and decided we’d make chili, cornbread, pizza, macaroni and cheese, no bake cookies and french toast (again). The chili was easy since you can get kidney beans, beef, tomatoes and all the necessary spices here. For the pizza I used a Japanese grill pan to do grilled pizza. I made the tomato sauce the night before from tomatoes and spices, and precooked the pizza crusts earlier in the afternoon. We bought cheese from a woman in the village who is married to an Italian man and makes her own cheese. For the mac and cheese I made a cheese sauce on the stovetop and mixed in the pasta. The no bake cookies were easy and the french toast was a request from my host mom after I made it for brunch earlier. I made the corn bread in a stove top contraption that kind of looks like a round muffin tin with a lid.
My host mom and I decided to have a nighttime outdoor garden party with candles. Since I figured she didn’t have a bunch of hurricane lamps sitting around I thought it might make sense to make luminaries out of paper bags, sand and candles. For some reason, the day we went shopping nobody could figure out where to buy paper bags…so we bought large sheets of brown paper, and after some internet searching I figured out how to make paper bags—with the help of my host brother and host cousin.
The day of the party I had a whole crew of help throughout the day to chop onions, make certain dishes, grate cheese, put together the luminaries, and set things up. Between what we cooked and what the host mom’s made there was a TON of food, and everything looked great. We spread carpets out on the ground and added some throw pillows. It was a beautifully clear night under the stars. I think Will’s beautiful picture below best illustrates how it looked.
At the end of the night, our cultural facilitator, Ido, surprised us with a movie he made of pictures of our group throughout training and videos he took of our host families talking about our time with them. Thus began the tears that would carry us to permanent site.
On Thursday we had a conference with our school principals. It was actually a great time to get to know our principals and for them to ask questions and for us to ask questions in a setting with many opportunities for translation.
On Friday we put on our best batik clothing for our swearing-in ceremony in Malang. After about an hour-long ceremony, the trainees all went into a more private room and took the oath with the American ambassador. Even though we are not considered federal employees, all Peace Corps volunteers are required to take the oath, which is similar to the oath taken by the President and all other federal employees. I get really sentimental about ceremonial/governmenty stuff like that—I cried when Obama took it, and I really struggled to keep it together to say it myself. But I made it through and we became official volunteers. Then people started leaving. Then we couldn’t keep it together anymore.
We hugged and cried and said goodbye to all of the people we had grown close to over the last ten weeks. Even though we knew we’d see all of them in October for in-service training, and others sooner if they are close to us, it was still really hard. Then our principals drove us home to get our bags, and we had to say goodbye to our host families. My host mom and host grandmother were both crying, we were crying, the kids looked really sad—and our principals were trying to console us as we drove off (“you can take the bus back here, it’s only two hours!”). Real professional on our part. Oh well.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to grow so close to a host family here. I have stayed with host families before, and never really bonded with them. But after ten weeks, I feel like I have a home in Indonesia to go back to, and I know that there are kids that love me and miss me in that home.–and it’s weird, but I can really say that I love them too. Will feels the same way about his family and my family here. So I guess we are pretty lucky.
The next post will be an update on our permanent site. We have much to tell. Until then, a few more pics from PST: