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Pre-Course Assignments!


Hello everyone!

We know that you all have been putting a lot of work into packing and preparing for our journey, and we created this assignment in the hopes that it will further prepare us.

There are three parts to the assignment: first, to begin to learn about one area of Indonesia that we will likely be visiting; then a reflection exercise about the place you call home; finally to write two letters, one to yourself to and another to the instructor team. The letters you can wait to write when you’re on the plane, but you should begin the first two parts of the assignment as soon as possible.

Part 1: Where Are We?

We’d like to assign a little bit of pre-course research that is linked to the locations we will be visiting over the course of the semester.

Each place we’ll visit will have 2-3 students assigned to investigate it. Look into that place’s art, history, current events, political history, food, climate, environment –whatever topics you like to learn about. Each of you should investigate the place separately and make notes. Lonely Planet and other guidebooks are great resources, as is a simple Internet search. Once we are all together in Indonesia, you’ll have time to meet up with your partner, compare notes, and decide what to share with the group. No need to contact your partner before the trip begins–we know you all must be very busy these days. This assignment is meant to be fun – not stressful. Look into what interests YOU. We’ll use the information you gather during our orientation at the beginning of the course.

Without further ado, the partners are:

  1. Shane, Alex, Enzo : Yogyakarta
  2. Carly, Troy, Chase : Borobudur, and Mount Merapi (sites nearby Yogyakarta)
  3. Eeshani, Christopher : Flores Island (especially Bajawa)
  4. Savanna, Harrison : Sulawesi Tenggara (especially Wakatobi)
  5. Pia, Avery : Sulawesi Selatan (especially Bira)

Part 2: “Where I’m From” Poem

As we travel through different regions of Indonesia, we’ll often be drawing comparisons between locations, lifestyles, homes, etc. Aspects of our lives that seem second-nature or taken for granted may be completely different than those we encounter in our homestay communities. To start thinking about your own identity and home, please complete this poetry exercise:  “Where I’m From” Poem, written by George Ella Lyon and adapted into a template by Levi Romero. Don’t overthink it – sometimes, the best poems come from the first things that pop into your mind. Feel free to print and bring the completed template along or rewrite the completed version in your notebook. Please be prepared to share with the group. (Follow this link:

Part 3: Letter to Instructors & Letter to Self:

Any time before you arrive in Jakarta, please take the time to write a short letter to us, your instructors, telling us anything you think we should know about you. You can tell us about your likes and dislikes, your learning style, your fears for this program, your pet peeves, and your hobbies. Definitely let us know what your priorities are for this semester, and what you hope to get out of your time in Indonesia. Let us know how we can best support you when situations are stressful, and anything relevant about your physical or mental health. In short, help us get to know you a little bit quicker.

Finally, on the flight over, once you have met the group, write a letter to yourself covering the following:

How are you feeling right now? Why are you going on this trip? What kinds of things do you value? What do you expect Indonesia and this trip to be like? How do you expect it will affect you? What are your impressions of your group members who you’ve just met? Any questions you have for your future self? And anything else you feel like writing! Create a snapshot for yourself of who you are at this moment in time.

***No one will read this last letter except you. You can put it in a sealed envelope if you’d like. You will hand this letter to us and then receive it at a later point, so you can see how you’ve changed and grown.

Thank you all, and of course, feel free to post any questions that come up on the Yak board!

Rita, Colin, and Hannah