We definitely have cockroaches in our house. It’s not a big deal; I’m sure lots of people think of cockroaches when they think of the Peace Corps, or at least they think of big bugs. My interactions and confrontations with winged and many-legged friends are certainly higher in number here than in the States, but it’s mostly exciting and less terribly than you’d think. I had my first cockroach-scrambling-over-the-foot experience today. Up until now they’ve been mostly afraid of me. I suppose they’re getting used to my presence and getting braver, as I am! I’ve also got to deal with the billions of rather large moths than congregate on my balcony every night. They like to hang out on my clothes as they’re drying and plaster themselves on the windows. Some of them are four inches across! Lastly, of course, the never-ending battles with mosquitoes in my bedroom: mostly I’m afraid of catching Dengue, so I stay up as long as necessary before I go to bed to search for and destroy all of the mosquitoes in my room. Usually this takes only ten minutes. I might be turning into a ninja.
We’ve had a couple of assignments over the past few weeks, the most difficult of which are our community project and the participatory analysis for community action (PACA) tools implementation.
Tlekung is doing a community project as a group of five. We’ll be going to the elementary school in the village and playing educational games with the kids. Bart had the awesome idea of setting up different stations and planning different activities to teach the kids about us, America, and to let them practice their English a little bit. (Side note: Bart, I know I’ve told you already, but you never cease to impress!) I’ll be doing a photography station and having them play dress-up in American-style clothing (read: our clothing)…somehow I’ll incorporate reading English into it. I’m thinking I’ll have them draw out of a hat and have instructions about which getup they should choose, maybe focusing on color vocabulary. Something like that. Then, I’ll take their pictures; we’re going to take advantage of UMM and print photos in order to make a collage, which we’ll sign and give to the school as a thank-you and forget-us-not. During the activity, the kids will also be eating pancakes, playing get-to-know-you Frisbee, doing some geography activities, and…what’s Diana doing? I don’t know yet. Something amazing, I’m sure! It’s going to be great! We’re going to have some special guests from Jakarta there, observing us: big wigs from the capital city, traveling all the way out to East Java to check bule out. These folks originally wanted to observe each cluster’s language class but they’ll be observing our community project instead. Cool!
And my PACA tools implementation project…PACA tools are really amazing starting points for community analysis that actually involve the community members and encourage them to investigate their own community and decide what they’d like to improve, if anything. The volunteer is a facilitator; if community members are invested in the process and the development projects come from and are created by them from the very beginning, any changes made are much more sustainable (which is important since the volunteer is only a temporary fixture in the community). I love the PACA tools because my philosophies about how development is done are in line with these theories, although I’ve not thought about or done community development on such a small scale before; I’ve thought lots about revolution and how it only works—and its changes only last—if its impetus is the will of the people involved, the will of the oppressed, who recognize they’re own oppression and decide for themselves to change it. I suppose I could talk about America and you-know-where, but we’ll just let that be and get back to PACA tools. I’m an employee of the US Government. Thanks, government (read: taxpayers)! Anyways, PACA tools are nice ways for me to help folks help themselves to determine whether they want to do stuff and help folks help themselves come up with ways to do stuff, if they want to…do stuff. I like it!
On being a lady PC volunteer in East Jawa, in my village, so far:
- Host dad knows I’m capable of making coffee so asks me often to make his or make coffee for his guests while I’m making my own. I’ve not yet seen him make his own; no big deal, in the long run, but interesting. If I didn’t like making coffee for friends and family, we’d probably have a problem. I always ask my host mother what she wants to drink, too, and if she wants something, I make it. I’ve never been asked to make coffee when I wasn’t already making it for myself, although if I’m not making coffee and host dad wants it, Ibu makes it. If I were a male living in this household I wouldn’t be making coffee (Bart is hardly allowed to do anything in his kitchen), but I’m not going to make a fuss if I don’t mind it. Is that wrong? In all fairness, Bapak once cooked fried rice for me when Ibu was out of town. (Addendum, 5/26: Pak hinted heavily today that I should make tea and coffee for some guests that arrived when Ibu was still taking a nap at the other house. I complied, no problem, but I didn’t really have an option. I’m sure that if I were a male, we wouldn’t have had drinks.)
- I was taught how to do my laundry the first week I was here. Laundry is done by hand. My host mother never offered to do my laundry. Some of the male volunteers in the group have resorted to sneaking into the bathroom and locking themselves in so they can do their laundry, otherwise their host mother will do it for them. However, there are some lady volunteers whose host mothers help them with ironing and folding. Of course, every family and every volunteer is different, but women are responsible for doing laundry in the Indonesian household. Some of the male volunteers definitely had a harder time getting their host mothers to allow them to do laundry, while the majority of female volunteers were taught how to do it the first week here.
- Sweeping. Dudes in the group, are you sweeping? I sweep my room every Sunday and sometimes I sweep the kitchen and living room downstairs. My host sister sweeps everyday before school and Ibu sweeps in the afternoons. I saw my male neighbor across the street sweep once.
- Sometimes my host dad tells me (not asks me), “Samantha, sit in the front room.” Even if I’m studying, I have to stop and sit with him to chat. I don’t mind since my situation here is temporary; if this were my permanent homestay, I’d probably devise a way to teach him that if I’m studying, I don’t want to be interrupted. It’s okay, now, since the reason I study downstairs is so that I can make myself available, but I wouldn’t want to always have to study in my room, isolated from the family, which is what I’d have to do now since I haven’t addressed the issue with my current host dad. No big deal but potentially problematic or at least worthy of being addressed if the situation carries over to my new host family.
Dinner with the Achmads
Ibu brought home some hardboiled duck eggs for supper today. She was in quite a sassy state as she described how hardboiled duck eggs that aren’t cracked cost 1,300 Rp each (one chicken egg is a little less than 700 Rp) but you can get three cracked ones for 3,000 Rp. “How’d they get cracked, Ibu?” I asked. “Did they fall from the ojek?” “No,” she replied. “They didn’t fall. These here? These eggs have many friends.”
Bapak decided to fry himself a chicken egg for supper in addition to his hard boiled duck egg. He enthusiastically offered to share, and I declined until Ibu told me that this was Pak’s first time ever cooking an egg (which was already evident as he had just splashed a substantial amount of oil on his forearm while flipping it). Normally, Ibu fries up the eggs and lets the oil drip off a bit before serving them; tonight, Pak was so tickled about sharing his egg that he carried it straight from the pan toward my plate. Hot oil dripped all over the floor and Ibu started shouting in Javanese, quickly grabbed the spatula straight out of Bapak’s hand, and dumped the egg onto my plate—dripping hot oil onto the top of my left foot in the process. A translation of what I said in bahasa Indonesia goes something like this: “Oh, Ibu! Ibu just hot oil on the top of my foot!” No burn, though; just hilarity and a little more shouting. Bapak felt quite harassed but satisfied that he could blame Ibu. She promptly wiped my foot and taught me how to say “dripped” in bahasa Indonesia (menetes, in case you ever need to know).
We ate boiled goose eggs, the fried chicken egg, some curried cassava leaves leftover from my lunch at school, and instant noodles—with rice, of course! Ibu couldn’t buy any groceries today because Sinta’s motorcycle is busted. I’m quite glad.
PS: Bapak just farted. I didn’t say anything. He said, “Aw, Ibu!” I smiled. Bapak said “Bapak keluar aingin di bawa!” which literally translates as “Bapak let air out from below!” Indonesian is great. Now they’re asking me who farted. I’ve gotta go.
PPS: Now they’re playing swit, Indonesian rock-paper-scissors, featuring man, ant, elephant (pointer, pinkie, and thumb, respectively)…or maybe rock-paper-scissors is American swit.
Community development project at the elementary school was a huge success. Good news considering the big wigs from Jakarta as well as our training and country directors showed up! More photos to follow whenever (if ever) there’s time.