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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

Hello Future Dragons!

My name is Jenny and I just finished the Indonesia Gap Semester this past Fall. Signing up for this is a bit of a leap of faith. You are about to travel with people you’ve never met before, in a place you’ve probably never been, with a flexible itinerary full of surprises. I know this might seem scary, but you’re almost there and I can assure you you’ll always be deeply grateful for this journey.

In Dragons, you will live in the present, completely free of preconceptions and phones and schedules. You will have the space to live, to breathe, to be. Your past values may be challenged and shed as new ones begin to form.

Here’s a little glimpse into my experience an Indonesia.

My new homestay mother smiled at me and her kind eyes crinkled at the edges. “Mama Imel,” she spoke, touching her hand to her heart, “Selamat Datang.” I strapped on my backpack and she led me across the town square to my new home for the next two weeks, holding my hand all the way. We were mostly silent under the thick blanket of stars, and my heartbeat slowed to its natural tempo, relief washing over me. Over the next couple of days, I began to live and breathe the rhythm of Langa, our second homestay village. Each morning, I would wake up to a thick, sweet cup of coffee and a meal with surprises from the family garden. Neighbors and friends would pop in and out of the home for coffee and stories from around the village. I actually had four mothers living in my house and they each took me on as if I were their own child; Mama Imel took me to harvest coffee, avocados, and vegetables in the garden, Mama Agus showed me how she weaves intricate ikat sarongs, and Mama Nur took me to rosary circles, where my ears were filled with gentle harmonies. After just two weeks, we were family”.

In Indonesia, your entire purpose will be to observe, listen, live, connect and grow. You will have the gift of time and peace. You’re free to get lost in your thoughts on planes and go-cars, on cool, smoky nights in your homestay family’s house, or in a remote, Sumatran jungle. All you need to do is come to Indonesia with an open mind and an open heart. Your three instructors will always have your back and your safety- mental, physical, emotional- as their top priority. Your new travel companions will probably become some of your best friends and they’ll push you to grow as you learn side by side. The Indonesian people will welcome you into their homes and lives, with sweet tea and a desire to learn and share stories.

As you travel throughout this beautiful country, keep your intention in mind. Why did you sign up for this trip, out of so many other possible programs and countries? As you face challenges and uncertainty, your comfort zone will stretch out and change in completely unexpected ways. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to get stronger and learn even more. Keep in mind you are here to grow and see things in a new light. I am so excited for all of you.