That’s nineteen thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight hours. That’s one million, one hundred and forty-seven thousand, six hundred and eighty minutes. That’s sixty-eight million, eight hundred and sixty thousand, eight hundred seconds that I’ll be spending in Indonesia with the Peace Corps, and looking forward to every millisecond at that!
I guess I’ve been putting this off for awhile now, sifting through the countless Peace Corps blogs this past year, anxiously climbing the rungs of the application process, but holding off until I knew for certain that I wouldn’t have started this in vain. But it is finally official, I’ll be serving with the Peace Corps for the next two years or so in Indonesia and leaving in just a couple months, beginning my training April 7th.
While I’d like this blog to provide a record of my travels for myself as well as friends and family, moreover I’m hoping it can be used as a tool for anyone else out there pursuing the Peace Corps. Applying to the Peace Corps can be a daunting task for anyone, and surfing through the blogs of current and returned volunteers who have gone through the process has been a great aid as I experience it myself.As I am new to the blogging world, I guess I’ll just start off with a thing or two about myself. My name is Shane and I’ve been dreaming of the Peace Corps for over half a decade now, recognizing it as my next step after college before I had even graduated from high school; so while I feel like I should be somewhat intimidated or anxious about the journey ahead of me, really I’ve been preparing myself for this day for quite awhile now. That aside, like many of those who find themselves pursuing the Peace Corps, one of my deepest passions in life is travel. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara this past June with a B.A. in Global Studies, which has given me the opportunity to spend much of my educational career abroad. I’ve studied four languages and touched every continent with the exception of Australia and Antarctica.
For those of you who don’t know, Indonesia is an archipelago comprised of over 17,000 islands located in South East Asia between Malaysia and the Philippines, Papau New Guinea, and Australia. Split by the equator Indonesia retrains a tropical climate, hot and humid, with comfortable warm clear water embodying nearly 80 percent of it’s territory. While the temperature remains relatively constant, it’s the rainfall that boasts extremes – with monsoons in the winter and a dry season in the summer (relatively speaking).
As far as my position, it looks like I’ll most likely be serving in a rural village somewhere in the province of East Java, the largest island of the archipelago. My brother and I spent a month in Indonesia this summer, traveling throughout Bali, Lombok, and the Gilis; so I’m more than excited to have an opportunity to explore more thoroughly. Upon arrival to Indonesia, and before transferring to my service site, I’ll undergo 10 weeks of pre-service training with my fellow volunteers – intensively studying the language (bahasa Indonesia with perhaps a provincial language as well), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), Indonesian curriculum, culture, health, and safety. As the Peace Corps recently reopened their program in Indonesia in 2010, this will be one of the first groups of volunteers to serve in the country. Unlike long-established programs, early generation volunteers spend the entirety of their service living with a host family, allowing for a deeper integration into the community and culture. Host families may take form as a mother, father, and children or simply another adult, depending on the assignment. I’ll be teaching secondary English in a local school or madrasah, co-planning and teaching lessons with my Indonesian colleagues, as well as involving myself in community projects outside of the classroom. The school day in some cases may begin as early as 6:30 AM, with some of the current volunteers holding more than 500 students. Although the road ahead comes along with many challenges I’m looking forward to all of the excitement and rewards it includes as well!