A Few Notes From the Last Year, Part Two

By Will

Stories that didn’t make it on the blog this year:

  • Occasionally we get tired of Indonesian food and rice everyday. One night this month our dinner consisted of a loaf of (Amy made) focaccia bread and ice cream. It was awesome.
  • We’ve quasi adopted a cat in our village. We don’t feed her, but I’ve started petting her (which was clearly the first time she’s been pet) and now she sleeps on our couch regularly.
  • We never got a chance to write about the backlash to the Innocence of Muslims film here as things were rapidly changing. However, looking back I can say that while things were a little unnerving at times as there were protests in the major cities around Indonesia, we never felt anything less than completely safe in our village and at our schools. Peace Corps also did a great job in keeping us aware of the situation and what to do if things changed. The day after the Ambassador was killed in Libya a teacher at my school told me that he could not sleep the previous night because he felt so bad for Amy and I after the horrific event. That told me everything I needed to know about this great community.
  • Amy’s school participated in a volleyball tournament. For teachers. Which of course means that many teachers sometimes had to leave class to practice. Amy was on the team too. They lost in the second round of the tournament but all the teachers agreed that they want to keep playing for fun.
  • It has become pretty universal that when I meet Indonesians and introduce myself as “Will”, it is immediately turned into “Willy”. Since names are always preceded by a title here (Pak and Ibu for Mr. and Mrs./Ms; Mas and Mbak for young male or female), people never know quite what to call me…I’m too old for Mas, but I don’t have kids yet, so that makes me too young for Pak. Generally they arrive on the title for uncle, Om. Om Willy.
  • When fellow volunteers come to visit us, as they are searching for our house they will usually encounter someone from the village who will say, “Om Willy?” and then point in the direction of our house.
  • Highlight of November, we found Mexican beans and salsa at at a grocery store in Surabaya.
  • We currently know five or six adults who are new drivers or learning to drive cars. Has it always been like this since most people learn to drive motorcycles first? Or does this say something more about the rapid economic growth of Indonesia? Either way, the roads of East Java don’t have much space left for new drivers.
  • We finally finished The Wire. I realize I’m about 8 years late on this, but what an amazing show.
  • Amy is finally reading the Harry Potter serious. How many years late is that? Oh well, I haven’t started it yet. But I am working my way through Game of Thrones.
  • In October, I was elected to PC Indonesia’s Volunteer Advisory Council during our two-week training. I feel really honored to represent the incredible Volunteers here as we work with PC staff to improve the program.
  • In late November, schools across Indonesia celebrated “Teachers’ Day”. This was celebrated by canceling class (during testing review week!) and a host of games for teachers put on by the students. I emerged victoriously. I won the krupuk (cow skin rind) eating competition, I placed second in musical chairs and I hit the lucky balloon in the ‘blindfolded balloon pop’ competition. It was a fun day, but a little disappointing that many of the teachers at my school didn’t want to participate. I asked them later why they hate fun, but I don’t think they understood the question.
  • Numbers and death are pretty important in Islam. For example, in September our family hosted 50 or so men for prayer and dinner to commemorate two years since our host mom’s husband passed away. A few weeks ago at my school, a teacher bought all of the teachers lunch and gave us all towels (wrapped like gifts) to commemorate 100 days since her husband passed away.
  • Birthday are celebrated a little differently here as well. Instead of people buying you gifts, you have to buy food for everyone else. The week of my birthday was really busy, so I wasn’t able to take anyone to lunch. When another teacher found out that my birthday had occurred a few weeks previously she said, “I wish you would have told me!” Thinking she felt bad for missing it, I said, “oh, its okay, don’t worry about it.” She responded, “Well you still owe me lunch.”
  • This ‘celebration by buying other people stuff’ thing also carries over to other accomplishments. You get a raise/promotion–lunch for the school is on you! Your daughter is seven months pregnant–you buy lunch for the all of your coworkers and  neighbors! One day I went to lunch with a few teachers and another teacher who had recently bought a new motorcycle made the mistake of showing up at the same warung. “Oh look, its Pak Newmotorcycle…he’ll cover our check!”
  • A teacher at Amy’s school decided to “surprise” another teacher on his birthday. He had someone call the school and claim that the birthday teacher’s wife was in the hospital. The joker teacher laughed and laughed. So did the birthday teacher when he discovered that it was a prank–but he also looked terrified and had tears in his eyes.
  • We saw Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II at noon on opening day in Surabaya which is the same as midnight the night before opening day in the states. Yes, us, and a lot of excited Indonesian teenagers. Amy wanted to see it. We also saw James Bond. (Amy insisted that this one be included. I put it at the end, assuming most readers won’t make it this far).

5 thoughts on “A Few Notes From the Last Year, Part Two

  1. Will, I read every word you and Amy write!!!! And absolutely love it!!!! I was a teacher and have always been interested in schools in our places. Thanks so much for wanting to share!!!!!

  2. Great anecdotes, enjoyed them very much. Just back from a week in Berea taking in Christmas Country Dance School, next year will be the 75th year so it will be special.5 inches of snow last Friday at my place near Frankfort…remember the word..snow?

  3. Pingback: A Few Extra Notes from 2013 | Two Cups of Java

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