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Crying and Community

One of the first texts I sent to my mom once I had wifi after our rural homestay in Nagasaribu was “My grandma cried when I left”.  Going into our first rural homestay I could not even begin to label the emotions I was feeling. Looking back I think it was a mix of anxiousness, panic, but also a hint of excitement. My first homestay was far from perfect. I quickly realized that my nenek (grandma) spoke batak not the Bahasa Indonesia that we had been learning. I could not eat the flaming red sambal served with all my meals. I also forgot to tell her on the second day that I would be home after 7, sending her into a panic. But every morning water was heated for my shower. I came home to all my clothes washed and hung on our laundry line. My room was organized and my sheets were folded everyday. Towards the end of the homestay I felt like my nenek and I had reached an understanding. We used hand gestures, facial expressions, and a paperback Indonesian-English dictionary (which they later had me sign). I felt satisfied with our basic communication and the schedule that we had set. I felt connected to the community and her family members, who would drop by every evening. I had a routine that included both alone time and set aside family time. However, for me there was nothing that would compel me to cry. For me crying is strictly restricted for extreme happiness or extreme sadness. I was nowhere near experiencing either of these. Seeing my nenek cry shook me. How could we be feeling such different things when we shared the same experience? On the way to our next orientation destination I kept thinking about this. Community was a word that kept coming up for me. The community of Nagasaribu accepted us faster than any other community I had been in before. My nenek had truly recognized me as a member of her family, her community. I in a way had seen myself as a guest in her home. Tomorrow I will be going into my long term homestay, and this time I will be making an effort to adjust my mindset to this new idea of community.