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“Not all those who wander are lost” -Gandalf

Greetings! My name is Isaac Wills, and my enthusiasm is building for Bridge Year Indonesia! I think I’ll begin with a simple but effective lesson that my younger brother Morgan taught me: B.O.T.O. It stands for “Be Open To Outcome,” and as he describes it, it’s a guideline leading to a lifestyle of gratitude and mindfulness. As I’ve been mentally preparing for my year abroad, I’ve channeled this sentiment. I want to enter Indonesia not with expectation but with a willingness to embrace the culture shock, language barrier, and—of course—equatorial heat!

That being said, I definitely do have hopes and desires as I go to Indonesia. First and foremost, I’m stoked to meet my fellow participants, counselors, and teachers. I hope that we will gel and learn from one another’s experiences as they unfold these next nine months. Inevitably, I will struggle, whether it be from feelings of loneliness or helplessness, but I am hopeful that my new community will support and challenge me. I can only hope too that I likewise support and challenge my teammates.

With regards to the service component, I turn to the Gandalf quote my father shared with me. While we will most certainly be foreigners, bule, I believe we are also travelers with a purpose. Our purpose in this sense is to engage Indonesian communities, principally Yogyakarta, and to give. I aspire not to wear my American citizenship on my sleeve; rather, I want to enter into the daily life of my Indonesian hosts. It is only by being truly present—mindful—that I can become a member of the community and in turn serve it. I’m excited for the small moments with locals, the time spent with my host family, and the hours shared with co-workers.

The Gandalf quote serves a second purpose: to underscore my love for reading. Like my father, I have intentionally waited to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings till college, but I figure the Bridge Year counts! By taking a break from the traditional classroom setting, I believe that I will have more time to explore my interests in reading. When I’m not following Frodo on his adventure, I might be deep in a book about international politics or the age of classic rock. I also enjoy writing poetry. Spurred on by the 2016 film Paterson, I began keeping a poetry journal, and I plan to capture many of my experiences in writing this year. And of course, there’s running, one of my favorite pastimes. I plan on getting to know Yogyakarta by running through it.

Concerning academic interests, I’m thrilled by Indonesia’s rich ethnic diversity. I am interested in pursuing anthropology and ethnographic studies at Princeton, so it may come as no surprise that Indonesia was my top choice for program placement. I’m also very excited to live in a Muslim-majority country. I started taking Arabic classes my sophomore year, and cultural lessons featured prominently. I’m curious to discover the intricacies of daily life under the Yogyakarta Sultanate and to what extent sharia law is implemented. I’m also excited to see how my time in Indonesia impacts the direction I take at Princeton. My interests drew me to this country, and I wonder how the country will mold my interests!

I wish everyone the best in this final week! See y’all Saturday!