Over the course of these last six weeks, we have had the opportunity to learn so much and grow in ways we never thought possible. During our last few days together in transference, we were able to rest and reflect on our experiences on the beautiful, white sand beaches of Bira. Through transference, we solidified the morals that we wanted to take home from this trip and shared positive final thoughts with each other. We also shared some final moments with two of our cherished instructors, Rita and Olivia, as they continued on to even greater things.
We created a strong bond between 15 people, and developed connections with Indonesian locals that will last a lifetime. Traveling throughout the different regions of Yogyakarta, Langa, Sampela, Tana Toraja, and many more allowed us to form questions about the world around us as well as ourselves…
Where does our own “community” truly exist? Many of us found our own definition of community in Indonesia. For some, community was drinking a morning cup of coffee while sitting with family in Langa. For others, community was going spearfishing for hours on end in Sampela.
How can we conserve resources in order to better our planet? Through learning about different trash systems (or lack thereof), overfishing, and general environmental conservation, our team broadened our knowledge in order to work toward a better future for our planet.
We also took some time to individually reflect on what we felt changed most about ourselves. All 12 students in our group went from being a group of American “bules” in a foreign country to feeling the singular heartbeat of Indonesia. Here is what we thought changed most about ourselves over the course of this trip:
Mia: I feel like I have expanded my understanding of cultural norms and expectations. I think I’m a lot more open and accepting of traditions and practices that are way out of my comfort zone and my preconceived notions about what normal is.
Julia: As this trip has progressed, I’ve become more comfortable making connections with the locals and fully leaning into discomfort as I interact with complete strangers. The welcoming feel of Indonesia is unlike anything I’ve experienced before and is one of the most valuable things I want to bring home.
Mason: I have learned the importance of community.
Annie: During this trip to Indonesia, I have learned not to be afraid to voice my opinions and have my social norms be challenged.
Sean: My understanding of how people value the things that they have has changed. Once you see how happy people with almost nothing to their name can be, you realize how absurd it is that other people become sad if they don’t have the latest iPhone.
James: As we have gone from homestay to homestay, I have noticed the decrease in wealth and social class of the families I have stayed with. This has changed me a great deal because now I finally understand what this part of the world is like. It has changed me for the better as I have become more aware of the things I have compared to people with less money.
Jivan: We have a diverse group of people, each with their own personalities. I’ve learned to enjoy the people around me even if we are different.
Ava: Each new experience here is something to learn from, and as you learn, you begin to understand more about yourself and the world around you.
Emma: Over the past six weeks, I have become comfortable with moving to the cultural norms of others in order to connect and create meaningful relationships. I have learned that words hold small value but actions and intents hold heavy value.
Shaiyah: Throughout my trip to Indonesia, I have learned how to find comfort with discomfort. I have learned that by allowing myself to become completely emerged in a new and unfamiliar culture, I can learn about myself as well as others. My viewpoint on the world has changed as my beliefs and prior conceptions have been challenged, and I have grown from that.
Francesca: Over the past six weeks, I feel I have changed in many ways. The biggest change has been how I value and view community. In America, people are taught to value the individual, but in Indonesia, I have learned the importance of community. The people in Jogja, Langa, and Sampela welcomed us into their loving, respectful, and warm communities and showed me the power of tight knit communities.
Chloe: It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint just one thing that has changed about myself over these past six weeks. If I could say what most changed about me, it would have to be the way that I define family. The people in Indonesia are so welcoming of complete strangers, especially people as different as those in our group. The fact that they cared for us so intensely and made sure we were always happy and healthy made me feel as if I was truly a member of their family. In Indonesia, no member of the family was left behind, and I was no exception. It helped me see that no matter where you go, you can form family.
In America, when we finish talking with someone, we say goodbye. The Indonesian people have a phrase in their native language that is similar to this; the phrase is “sampai jumpa”. However, whereas Americans say goodbye, “sampai jumpa” simply means “until we meet again”. So, from all 12 of us students, we would like to say sampai jumpa, but not just to each other. We say sampai jumpa to the coffee plantations and bamboo forests of Langa. We say sampai jumpa to the coral reefs and rickety boardwalks of Sampela. We say sampai jumpa to the 4 AM call to prayer and various food stands of Yogyakarta. But most of all, we say sampai jumpa to Indonesia as a whole, because this is not goodbye. This is simply a break until we meet again.