The Craziness of June 25-30, 2014

The week started out well. I went to the mall in Bogor to meet up with the Bogor crew: Imani, Jen, and Betsabe. We were all staying at Imani’s house for a couple of days. We stayed at the mall for some time soaking in the AC then went to a restaurant to get some Western food. It’s amazing how you miss food you didn’t eat back home. Try eating Indonesian food (or any regional food) for 4 months straight and see if you start craving Cheez-its and McDonald’s. Well we headed to Imani’s house in Leuwiliang. On the way our angkot got hit by a car and the tire blew. Luckily none of us were hurt but later Jen realized her laptop was stolen. Apparently this is par for the course with visiting Imani’s site. Someone will get something stolen. We decided to start the next day on a high note by going to Gunung Salak (Salak Mountain – salak is snake food because the skin of the fruit looks like a snake) to see the waterfalls there. It was really awesome, we saw monkeys and the views were amazing (surprisingly no salaks, I was quite disappointed because I love salak, tastes like a sourless pineapple).

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Saw monkeys on the way. I was scared and made sure to zoom and not get close to their young. They were walking on the path with us too.

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We past some warungs (restaurants) on the way including a place to have fish eat away the dead skin on your feet for real cheap. DSCF0512 DSCF0516 DSCF0517 DSCF0518 DSCF0524DSCF0519  DSCF0533

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We got to the waterfall and it was beautiful. Lots of people were in the water, having fun, but then…Imani slipped on the rocks and fell backwards. It all happened in slow motion. Luckily she only hurt her hand. A bunch of guys showed up and helped us.One of them had a minature med-kit on him for some reason. My bahasa Indonesian is still poor so I didn’t know what he was saying. Betsabe played a lot of sports growing up so she knew what to do to stabilize Imani’s hand while Jen and I made sure Imani stayed awake and hydrated. After about 15-20 minutes she was well enough to walk so we trekked back to the entrance while on the phone with the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO). It took us about two hours to get back to Leuwiliang and we went straight to the hospital. The PCMO called ahead and let the doctors know everything we relayed. She had a fracture in the palm of her right hand, which meant she would need to go to Bandung where Peace Corps has a medical hospital they work with to get it set properly since the fracture could affect how her dominant hand works for the rest of her life. Betsabe and I decided to accompany her to Bandung so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

The next day at 5AM we head to Bandung for the hospital just to be told that the doctor can’t see her for another two hours. Come to find out the x-ray machine was broken so the PCMO tells Imani she will either have to go to Bangkok, Thailand (that’s where all PCV in Southeast Asia goes for surgery) or Washington D.C. to get her hand set. We were all shocked and she really didn’t want to go back to the States because she has made so much progress here and was afraid the transition would be difficult since she wasn’t prepared mentally to go back now.

When you join Peace Corps you have to prepare yourself mentally to be away from home, familiarity, and your culture. To return back to the States unexpectedly and before you are ready could affect you emotionally so I understood why she didn’t want to go to D.C. so we all hoped she would go to Thailand. By this time, it was Friday and the PCMO said they wouldn’t know where she was going until Monday when she would be flying out. Since she was going to be in Bandung all that time we decided to have some fun. We did a lot of shopping (too much really), ate a bunch of unhealthy food (pancakes/waffles and ice cream are the best thing ever), and invited friends to go visit some Japanese and Dutch bunkers. Mike (ID8) showed up on Saturday and AJ (ID7) showed up on Sunday.

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Hummingbird Cafe

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Met up with AJ to go to the Japanese and Dutch bunkers. This restaurant/hotel was awesome and had amazing views of Bandung.

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This is amazing, it’s beautiful on the way to where the Japanese and Dutch waged war against each other for dominance in Indonesia.DSCF0559 DSCF0557 DSCF0562 Of course, we ran into some monkeys again.

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The Japanese bunkers were built quickly since they weren’t in Indonesia as long as the Dutch.

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The Dutch bunkers were nicely built and maintained since they were in Indonesia longer than the Japanese.

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Though this trip started crazy, with a car accident and then a slip at a waterfall, it actually ended very well. Imani went to Thailand for two weeks (free trip!) with a hand injury so she got to see Bangkok. Bandung was a lot of fun and we ate a lot of good food. I guess these are the moments they talk about in Peace Corps where something very serious happens, we handled it appropriately, but also got to have a lot of fun because of it. InshaAllah, there will be more good times to come!

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Perpustakaan / Library June 18th, 2014

 

 

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I finally got to visit the library at my school on July 18.  I’m hoping to add more English books to it. Right now it is filled with textbooks. There are some English books in one of the rooms but no fiction!

It’s been a long time / shouldn’t have left you / without a dope beat to step to

My First Big Mac

So I realize that I haven’t been posting and I think I know why. I keep thinking my blog has to be a certain way. I need pictures and text and it needs to say something, I also need to make sure I’m really considerate towards the Indonesian culture/people while writing about real issues and triumphs I have here. All of that, plus Netflix, has prevented me from posting for over 2 months. Now I realize I need to do my blog the same way I think, sometimes with images and sometimes with long monologues about certain things. Basically that means I may post images with very few text and I may just post a full on rant. InshaAllah, this will allow me to post more than once every 2 months.

MAN Cibinong Welcome – Marching Band

MAN Cibinong Welcome – Marching Band: http://youtu.be/B7J1wCoCUq0

MAN Cibinong Welcome – Martial Arts

MAN Cibinong Welcome – Martial Arts: http://youtu.be/fvhMDvdMcPs

Going to Permanent Site

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I am now at my permanent site in Cibinong, West Java! It has been a long journey and will be even longer. Unfortunately, my Ibu had an appointment at the time I was leaving so she wasn’t able to see me off but I think it was for the best. I don’t like those kinds of goodbyes and I don’t like to see people cry. Earlier that day I already cried saying goodbye to those who were staying East. It was too much and I tried to be happy for everyone since we are all going off to do great things but it was just sad. You build these relationships over eleven weeks together thinking that that isn’t enough time to make a lasting connection, but when you are in a country that has a different culture then you’re used to and can barely speak the language, you build close relationships with those who are similar to you. It’s like when people immigrate to another country and settle in places where others from their home country have settled so they can have a sense of normality in their new country. We built a community in our small town and relied on each other. Now we are all going off to our sites alone where all our time will be spent with people different from us. That is what we signed up for and that is the reason we are here, but it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Especially for out families who literally taught us how to poop and shower and now a new family will reap the benefits of their hard work. Many of the families have had previous PCVs at their homes so they know the drill but it is still difficult to say goodbye to someone who has become like your child. As the bus pulled up the tears started to flow.

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The bus took us to the train station where we took a 16 hour train ride to Bandung. There are 25 of us ID8s who headed out to the Wild Wild West and even though we were in Executive Class it was not comfortable. I hate to think what the other classes are like which, unfortunately, I feel like I will find out in the near future. It was rough but I got to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones where Prince Oberlin fought The Mountain. I won’t give away the results of the fight but needless to say it was tense on the train. It’s those little moments of normalcy that I treasure the most plus I got into a heated debate about it on the train so that was fun. I had been trying to prepare myself mentally for going out west so I watched J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies to get amped up about going to my site. It sounds ridiculous but it actually worked, I would recommend it to anyone heading to a place where few (wo)men have gone before (well…at least few PCVs). When we arrived in Bandung we took another bus ride to the hotel where I finally got to sleep in a comfortable bed and in air conditioning. It was an emotional time and I got a little sick because I had the AC blasting but I didn’t care.

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That night before dinner, we had an informal meeting with our counterparts and principals. My principal wasn’t able to make it so I met one of my counterparts that day. She is a very nice older woman with a good fashion sense so I felt good about her. She was really happy to have a Muslim volunteer. I heard that my principal said whoever came to his school would have to wear a hijab and that was how I was placed at my school. High criteria there but I’ve heard that a lot of volunteers who teach at Madrasas have been told the same but she let them know that they weren’t going to wear one. There hasn’t been a problem with them refusing to wear it, I think it’s just a little surprising when they are asked initially. 

Anyways, I talked with my counterpart a bit and asked her a lot of questions about the school, classes, the schedule, and the students. The next day was the principals and counterparts conference, which I don’t understand why we had to be there so I took a lot of 15 minute bathroom breaks. At one point I went to my room to get my cell phone charger, I should have stayed and taken a nap. It was rough. Most of it was in Indonesian so I didn’t know what they were saying. I did use a lot of that time to ask my counterpart even more questions, which was the main benefit of the conference for me. My last night in Bandung I went to dinner with Emani, an ID7 Volunteer, and Jennifer, my roommate while in Bandung who’s site is near mine (kind of). It was nice to have a good conversation and an opportunity to chill before heading out on our own where conversations will be very limited. Emani gave me some good advice and a lot of hope about learning Indonesian since she’s been here a year and has a good grasp of the language. She’s planning a slumber party for those of us near her site. A positive about PC is that you are not ashamed of doing things that were cool when you were a kid (and secretly wish was still cool as an adult). Once you have to learn how to squat and poop all other concerns go down the crapper.

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The next day was another farewell day and thus pretty sad; people were leaving left and right. Jennifer had to leave at 5:45AM and another volunteer left while I was in the shower so I didn’t get to say goodbye (queue the Beauty and the Beast scene where Belle is crying about not saying goodbye to her father). I went down to breakfast and was saying farewell to all my friends and as 25 dwindled down to just 5 we snapped a photo to commemorate the moment while drinking something that tasted like Sunny D. I was sad but surprisingly really excited. I wasn’t nervous, which was good…well until I got to my school (more on that soon).

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[Left to Right: Rita, Travis, Me, Mike, and Nate]

 A minute after this pictures was snapped I left with my counterpart at 8AM. It turned out to be a quick drive since I am two hours from Bandung (four hours by public transportation). I arrived at my place and my Ibu is absolutely adorable. My Bapak* works in construction in Jakarta so I didn’t meet him until later that night, but he is really sweet. I bought two small bookshelves for my room and said I wanted to hang them on the wall, I also had my mosquito net that had to go up. He called two of his friends and my room turned into a construction zone that night. They are both really sweet and my Ibu is an amazing cook. She owns the canteen at my school (they don’t have a cafeteria at the schools here) and another little shop. That afternoon I went to my school and was greeted with a banner with my name on it and a marching band.

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 I was extremely nervous and they asked me to speak at the end of everything so I said two sentences in bahasa Indonesian, thank you in bahasa Sunda (local language), and three sentences in English, which equals the least amount you can say and still call it a speech.

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It was pretty crazy so I will post the videos on another post (I am not good with a camera so please excuse the shaky cam).

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There was also a Martial Arts display that I recorded and will be posted with the marching band.

 They were very welcoming and kind. My first thought was, wow, this is colonialism at its best, which is a bad joke. I know Peace Corps gets a bad rep and a lot of people see it as colonialism and at that moment it felt like it a bit. BUT because we make an effort to integrate into societies, learn the language, learn the culture, only go to places where they want us, and only have programs the country wants, I think that needs to be taken into consideration when critiquing what the Peace Corps does. I will be at this school for two years and over the span of that time the enthusiasm of having a native speaker here will wear off and students’ motivations will wane. The bulk of my job will be “Motivasi” (motivation) since as I become normal to the students, once they stop giggling in the halls whenever I pass, it will be harder to keep them motivated to learn English. What makes my job even more difficult is the high expectations put on volunteers since we are the native speakers. The schools really believe that by having a native speaker at their school that students will be fluent in English in one year. It’s a lot. You also have to deal with the fact that your counterparts may think you are a spy who will report them to who knows whom or that they can go on vacation now for two years since someone else will be teaching their class. I made sure to tell all of them that Peace Corps said I cannot teach alone. The good thing is there are seven English teachers at my school and at least half of them are happy I am here and those are the ones I am going to work with. Volunteers have said that initially that is the case but the longer you are there, and as long as they see your work ethic they will come around. They will hear about some of the things you are doing in the classrooms, how you are helping around the school, and will slowly start to accept you into the fold. I hope that happens for me. I have been here for a week and can already see some of the difficulties that may be ahead. My job is not just to teach English, it is also to engage in a cultural exchange: they learn about American culture and I make sure to share Indonesian culture with those back home. InshaAllah, I will be successful.

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*Anecdote about Bapak: I went on a bike ride with my Ibu and when we got home by Bapak was chillin’ on the floor listening to an R&B station playing “I Need A Girl” by Maze. I couldn’t stop laughing. Glad to know I’m not the only one who still listens to 90s R&B

 

 

Where Have You Been?

I realize it has been a long time since I have posted on my blog but I hope this makes up for it. I have been going to bahasa Indonesia class in the morning and Link class in the afternoon learning how to be a teacher while also learning Peace Corps policy. My days begin early and end late. It has been quite tiring so I’ve been spending my evenings unwinding by watching TV shows and getting to know my fellow trainees. I received some great advice from an ID6 volunteer. He said that Pre-Service Training (PST) is our time to get to know our fellow trainees since they will be your allies throughout the two years we will be in Indonesia. Those two years will be good and bad, easy and difficult. I have to learn two languages, integrate into the society, and try to be successful at my job so I will need as much help as possible. You have to strike a balance between spending time with your host family, who you will live with for 10 weeks, and spending time with your fellow trainees, who you will rely on for 2 years. I decided after receiving that advice that I would spend more time with my fellow trainees even if I’m feeling tired and want to spend the day in my bed re-watching episodes of Community. Not having wifi has made this decision even easier since I don’t have Netflix to distract me but I like to think I would have made the same decision even if I had working wifi in my house. It has been great getting to know my fellow trainees and I have made a lot of good friendships during my short time here.

 

Last week we received our site placement and most of my close friends are in East Java while I am in West Java. I’d been saying I wanted West Java and even in my site placement interview when the regional manager asked me if I had any questions I told him I wanted to make a shameless plug to be placed in West Java. I wanted West because I wanted to be close to Jakarta and there are a lot of sites I want to visit but when I got the news after seeing most of my friends going East I started to regret my choice. As I started to read more about my site, I changed my mind and now I’m really excited to go there. I will be placed in Cibinong, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, which is supposedly an urban city (we will see). It’s really close to Jakarta and about 4 hours from Bandung. My school is a Madrasa high school 700m (less then half a mile) from my house and it has three vocations: farming, culinary arts, and….FASHION!!!!

 

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I didn’t even know they had vocational fashion high schools. I think the PC staff saw how I make an effort to be fashionable and took note. Well done PC, well done. We will see how I like it once I get to site. We still have a week and a half of PST before heading to out permanent sites. We will travel by train for 16 hours to Bandung the day after we swear-in to become official volunteers. We get half a day to and the following day we meet our principal and our English teacher counterparts for a conference. They will then accompany us to our host family’s house in our respective sites. I’ve been getting restless during PST. I don’t have much time to sleep or really relax so it has been a bit stressful. I’m looking forward to having time for myself and being able to learn more about my host country. Training is for focusing on becoming a successful volunteer, so I understand why it has been strenuous but I am looking forward to having a break from it. We have training sessions throughout our time as a volunteer about 3-4 months apart. It’s a great way to discuss what has been successful for others, what hasn’t worked for them, and to get feedback/perspective from other volunteers.

 

I’ve had my doubts throughout PST but the closer I get to site placement and the more I get practice teaching the more confident I am. I’m really looking forward to being a teacher and learning more about Indonesia. Now here are some random pictures 🙂Image 

We were invited on stage with the Mayor of Batu unexpectedly. Crazy night 

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My group kicked butt in the traditional games put together by our Cultural Liaisons. It was a lot of fun.

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We did a teacher assessment for university students that are studying to become English Teachers here. They were really cool 

Peace Corps Indo Ocho Orientation and the start of Training

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Figure 1 At San Francisco airport

 

I can’t believe I’m in Indonesia! I wake up to the sound of the adthan calling me to Fajr prayer and go to sleep after Isha prayer. In the States, I must admit, I didn’t pray much. It has been hard for me to keep it up with work and school but here everything works around those times. In the Indo 8 Facebook group someone asked what we would miss the least about the States and I responded “Being a religious minority.” Having to use my lunch breaks to attend Jummah prayer and using vacation time for Eid is disheartening. Anyways, it is nice to be in a Muslim country but it also comes with a lot more scrutiny and responsibility. I have been told that other volunteers have found it difficult in the past since Indonesians have a different cultural interpretation of Islam than other countries. That is true of every religion, it is practiced differently in every country because of culture, but the foundation is the same. I’m sure as my bahasa (language) Indonesian improves I will run into similar issues but, being from America I’ve had to deal with different interpretations of Islam my entire life. It makes me wonder if those other volunteers have only been to mosques in America where they were the predominate ethnicity so perhaps they haven’t encountered having to live with or be pressured to conform to a different interpretation of Islam before. As a Black Muslim I’ve had to deal with that my entire life and I hope I can find the best way to respectfully convey my interpretation of Islam if a situation arises.

 

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Figure 2 Leaving Surabaya after a week in Indonesia

 

Anyways, last week we arrived in Indonesia on a Monday night and started learning bahasa Indonesian on Tuesday. The language is written with the English alphabet and pronounced phonetically. Sentence structure is a bit different, which has been my issue so far. After a week in Surabaya we departed Saturday morning for our training site, which is about 3 hours away. Nerves started to kick in as I prepared to meet my host family. The day before we received a picture of our host family and their names. I still wasn’t too nervous. In order to calm my nerves a bit I started to think of it as meeting roommates for the first time. 

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Figure 3 Everyone rides motorbikes here

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Figure 4 Lush greenery used as medians in the road

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Figure 5 On our way to the training site with volcanoes as our scenery

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Figure 6 This is the university we meet at once a week.

We stopped at the University Muhammadiyah Malang to meet one of the Education Ministers who happened to be in Malang at the time. The campus is absolutely beautiful. After this we went to our respective cities where we are to be hosted for 10 weeks. When we arrived I was introduced to my Cultural Liason (CL) who will help me with questions about the local culture, questions about training, any issues that may come up with my host family or just to communicate in general to them. I have an Ibu (mother) and two sisters, both 17, who share a room they are renting while attending school in the area (they aren’t related). All women, which means I can walk around without my hijab, in shorts, or a bath towel after washing. They are all really sweet and helpful. I gave my Ibu some Eos chap stick from home and my Adiks (little sisters) a couple of t-shirts from Texas A&M University. The shirts were way too big so I explained that people in Texas are large. It was pretty awkward but I managed to laugh at the situation since only one of my Adiks spoke a little English and the other spoke even less English and my Ibu knows a few words. My Indonesian is very limited so I was trying to learn as many words as possible. I ended up going to sleep pretty early since I was tired and had to get up early the next day. 

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Figure 7 Beautiful campus

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Figure 8 This is one of the views I have from my language class

We had to meet our CL at 6AM on Tuesday since we were visiting 2 schools in the area for the morning and after lunch we would go to language class. The first school we went to was a madrasah and the students did Qur’an recitation in the morning. I believe they only do that maybe once or twice a week. That lasted for an hour and the students were starring at us and laughing. We waited in the principals office and was introduced to one of the English teachers. He was very nice and we got to ask him a lot of questions. After the recitation we were brought in front of the entire school and were asked to introduce ourselves. The students then got to ask us questions and the girls were braver than the boys. The first question asked was to one of the male PC trainees who was asked if he had a girlfriend. Too funny! They were cute and gawked at us the entire time. We looked in on the English teacher’s class for about five minutes then went to a vocation high school for nursing, pharmacy, and medical office administration or something like that. They were testing that day so we weren’t able to talk to any of the students. The school was really great and is competitive to get into. We spoke with the principal for awhile then headed out. 

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Figure 9 The soccer field connected to my language class school

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Figure 10 A madrasah we visited to see the English class early in the morning. The students have Qur’an recitation on Monday mornings. We were luck enough to be there.

I thought I would be more nervous to be in front of a class but it wasn’t too bad. I’m hoping I will enjoy teaching and PC is training us on the realities of teaching in Indonesia and also technical training. Tuesdays-Thursday we attend “Link” classes with 3 other groups of trainees (another from my town and two from another town). We travel by angkot (public transportation: essentially a van with benches in the back) to our Link site for classes on Culture, Global PC policies, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The site of our Link classes is further up the mountain from where I stay (maybe 10 minutes by angkot) and has beautiful views. The area I stay is agricultural but people live in dense areas. 

I’ve actually really been enjoying my time here. Some of my counterparts have been finding it difficult here. The days are long: Monday was 6:30AM-5:30PM T-F 7:30AM-5:30PM. We have to speak in Indonesian when we go home so there’s really little break from language class and it’s difficult to communicate. It can get tiring day in and day out while also dealing with a new diet and what we call here the “little d” which stands for diarrhea. The “Big D” is Dengue Fever or breakbone fever. It’s exactly what it sounds like and there is no vaccination against it unlike Malaria. My mom told me that Former President Jimmy Carter is working on a vaccination for it. Please DONATE to his cause immediately! 

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Figure 12 The Mandi (bathroom). Mandi means to shower or bathe 

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Figure 13 This is where I squat to pee and poop

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Figure 14 Water from the mountain used to wash. I use the scooper to pour water on myself to bathe. The water is pretty cold

Anyways, the other issue we trainees have been finding is fear of becoming isolated because of MMT. MMT is a serious thing here amongst volunteers. Two women in my language class made up with this acronym, which stands for Mandi (bathe), Makan (eat), Tidur (sleep). In our town, and possibly all over the island of Java, Indonesians and ourselves take two baths/showers a day because of the humidity causing you to sweat all day. So when we are done with class and return home from a long day the first thing we do is shower (Mandi), then we eat (Makan), and then we get tired and head to sleep (Tidur), hence MMT. MMT is a strong pull and hard to resist but I try to interact with my host family as much as possible. I went to a Qur’an recitation circle with my Ibu. About 15-20 women in the community get together and each person reads a verse from the Qur’an in Arabic. If she has trouble with a word the others correct the pronunciation. There are lots of snacks and jasmine tea during and people chat until it’s their turn to read. I read a couple of verses in English to contribute to the circle and after we were done they brought out even more food. I was stuffed and immediately went in my room for Tidur.

My Ibu is really great and accommodating. Lately I’ve had a sore throat, which has turned into a cold and she was so worried. I tried to explain that I get them all the time in the States but I could see she was worried. I’ve really been enjoying my time here and haven’t experienced too much of a culture shock. I’ve really benefitted from entering the PC at an older age. I’m not sure if I would have been able to handle all of the changes if I left right after undergraduate. I noticed I haven’t had as many complaints as the other trainees and I’ve been able to adapt pretty well. Some would chalk it up to me being a hijabi but I also think it has to do with me living in the States as a minority for so long. I’ve had to adapt to people’s expectations of me, work with people who are very different from me in belief, ideology, race, sex, etc. I’m rarely around other black hijabis who weren’t related to me and have had to make compromises on what I say is my identity, I’ve had to negotiate around religious interpretations that were different from my own, I’ve worked with misogynists, feminists, egalitarians, etc, which I believe has really prepared me for some of the challenges I will face later. Even as I write this I’m thinking in the back of my mind, “Wait until you get to your permanent site and then see how you feel.” I’m cautious by nature so I won’t speak definitively about my Indonesian experience only two weeks into my 27 months here. I do hope that my experiences will be mostly positive and that the negative ones will be of short duration. Right now I’m in a good place, learning a lot, and trying to enjoy my time each day. I think I’ll stop here 🙂

 

If you have any questions please leave a comment and now that I have a cellphone with internet I should be able to respond within the day.

 

— Fisah 

Call with Country Director

Feeling GoodA cool thing happened yesterday morning at 8AM CST. Myself and about 12 other individuals had a conference call with our Country Director (CD) in Indonesia. The CD gave us some basics on what happens when we arrive in Indonesia, training timeline, some advice from currently serving Peace Corp Volunteers (PCVs), and answered some of our questions. The people in my conference call asked a lot of great questions about packing and clothes (professional for staging and swearing in later and business casual for 1st week of training), about having a U.S. debt and credit card (yes to both). I asked about shipping and the CD said we should wait until after training when we are placed in a district to see what my needs are and also said we will be able to find a lot of what we need in country. The CD said we can bring an unlocked phone or we can also buy a phone in country, Apple products are okay there, bring small/ little gifts for host family, we will be given a bike or money to buy a bike (this will be our main mode of transportation), in terms of bringing materials for class the CD said we should wait to see what the school has since a lot of schools have plenty of resources or are getting more resources but then added that PC tries to place us in schools with little resources (so I guess wait and see and have things shipped later). This is kind of the breakdown of the Q&A portion of the call.

WorriedI didn’t realize how much I really needed this call because it reinforced that the decision I made to apply and accept my invitation into the Peace Corps (PC) was correct. The process towards becoming a PCV is so long and without much communication from PC it can either motivate you more or start to make you question your decision. During the actual application process, interviews, and up until invitation I had no doubts about joining the PC but as my departure date started to get closer (really at the one month before departure date) I began to feel fear for the first time and worry. This is completely normal but it’s difficult to actually deal with. I was already missing my ummie (mother) before I even left her and wondering if I made the right decision. BUT because I am a weird person and processes comfort me, hearing the mundane information about “Ok, when you arrive I will be there and we will go…” here and there and then on this day you will do this, and the next day you will do that. Having an idea of a schedule actually really comforted me. Hearing someone’s voice who is actually in country really helped me get over some of my fears and reignited my excitement towards joining the PC.

ConfidentI have to keep reminding myself that there will always be doubt and that the only way to subside those doubts is to seek knowledge to answer your questions. Don’t fester in ignorance otherwise it will keep you from growth and trying new things.

Redy To Go

HEY!

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Hello, I started this blog less than a month before my departure to Indonesia for the Peace Corps as an English Teacher / Teacher Trainer. Forgive me, I am bad at titles so I decided to be descriptive. I am a black hijabi who will be in Indonesia for 27 months starting March 15, 2014. I do not speak for all black people, all hijabis, all women, the Peace Corps, nor any combination of those categories. I speak for myself. I wanted to add my voice to the diverse group of people who will, have, or are currently serving in Indonesia. Below is a little bit about be that I provided as a bio for Peace Corps so please excuse the awkward wording. :)

Prior to my appointment as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I worked as a Program Coordinator for the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP) at Texas A&M University. During my time at LSAMP, I oversaw the distribution of scholarships and fellowships to students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, developed seminars, supervised eight graduate assistants, and counseled over 70 students.

I became one of the first volunteers for the Clara B. Mounce Public Library’s ESL courses in Bryan, Texas. I’ve taught over 20 students with various English levels in the first year, worked with the library to develop curriculums, and helped shape the program.

I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana and live in College Station, Texas. I have a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Texas A&M University in College Station. I also have a master’s degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on Religion and Ethnicity from The Graduate Center, City University of New York in New York City. My master’s thesis will be published as a chapter in the anthology Deferred Dreams, Defiant Struggles: Critical Perspectives on Blackness, Belonging and Civil Rights through Liverpool University Press in March 2015.