Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monthly Update 1: Taman Harapan

Each month I write an update to send to AFS. Here's my first one!

Local Volunteering With YES Alumni in Bandung

Before I came to Indonesia knew I wanted to help out with a community service project, but I didn't know If I would find one that I would be able to continuously volunteer with.  After just two weeks in Bandung, I already found the perfect organization, Taman Harapan! Two of the YES alumni who live in Bandung, Lidya and Aya, invited me to come with them one Sunday morning to help teach some kids English. I was really excited with opportunity because in the U.S. I used to volunteer tutor elementary school kids, and they were always so cute and fun to work with. I was surprised when Aya and I hopped off the angkot (public transportation van) and walked across the street to arrive at our destination, a large sidewalk at the corner of the road. I was expecting to go inside a building somewhere, but we just headed over to a group of young kids on the side of the road and sat down right there! The kids were all excited to see me; some ran up to meet me, while others hid behind their friends and smiled shyly from behind.  Before we arrived, most of the kids were selling cobek (a traditional Indonesian mortal and pestle that is made of heavy stone) to the cars that passed at the corner.  The children's families are very poor so they have to help make money by joining the large numbers of street sellers and beggars you see everywhere in Bandung. I think all of the kids go to school, but selling cobek and other items on the street is their part-time job and they are only about 5-10 years old!

Despite the fact that all the kids had just spent the past few hours carrying around  heavy stone in the hot sun, they were some of the happiest kids I have seen when we started to sing songs and practice counting in English. After I introduced myself and met all the kids, we sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and, Toes" and "5 Little Indians", and later we painted some recycled bottles and metal pans to make instruments. I was amazed how content they were spending their Sunday learning on the sidewalk, when a lot of kids back home would complain about having to do anything educational on the weekend.  They enjoyed the simplest things and really, truely appreaciated that me and the other volunteers had come to spend time with them.  I went back to Taman Harapan  this past weekend for the second time, and had even more fun.  This week we taught the kids about the Geography of Indonesia and played some Indonesian games. Using the atlas, I had the kids guess where I am from in America. Also, I learned how to play an Indonesian version of rock, paper, scisors, and hand clapping game from South Kalimantan called "Ampar Ampar Pisang" which got pretty competitive! From volunteering at Taman Harapan, I feel like I have seen the true Indonesia.  I have learned a lot of cultural tidbits and more words in Bahasa Indonesia than the kids have learned in English.  I'm looking forward to going back every Sunday so I can get to know each of the kids and share with them some American games and culture in return!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Indonesian Music

This is my favorite Indonesian song that I've heard so far (Orang Ke-3 (ketiga)). It's more mellow than most Indonesian songs I think. I wish I understood the meaning because lyrics  are usually a big part of the reason I like a song, but i do know this song title means 'the third person' but it doesn't translate exactly. And my host sister told me the song is about a guy who is in love with a girl who is in love with someone else so he is heartbroken. anyways hope you like it..
Another note on music here: popular American songs are also big here and some are more mainstream here than they are now in the U.S. (I hear Maroon 5, Call Me Maybe, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Whistle by Flo Rida, and Pitbull's International Love almost daily) Most radio stations play more English music than Indonesian music and for the most part if I mention an American singer to my friends here, they know who he/she is. K-Pop is also huge, but the only artists I know are PSY (Gangnam style!!) and SNSD (girls generation). Karaoke is also really popular here-I've already been 4 times! But its not like in the U.S. where you perform in front of people at a bar or something.  Basically you go with friends and you get a private room with sofas and a flat screen and a few mics and somehow you can't hear people singing in the hall which is amazing because in my experience theres just has much yelling that goes on as singing-not to mention dancing on the couches. haha

Oh also, speaking of radio, during prayer times the radio stations will stop whatever they are broadcasting and play the Azaan (call to prayer). This surprised me the first time I heard it, because I thought Azaan only came from the loud speakers outside mosques. I'm not sure if all the stations do this or not though, because I haven't heard it too much, but maybe I'm just not listening at prayer times- I'll try to pay more attention and see.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Obersvations:The Good, The Weird, and the Dangerous

- people are really friendly here and are usually interested to meet me or possibly just take a picture with me to post on their instagram probably (Indonesians love social networking)
- lots of people know English- this is both a positive and a negative- its helpful but it makes it harder to learn and practice bahasa
-  respect for parents and elders is very important. When you meet someone older, or say goodbye you have to 'Salam' which is basically showing respect and/or asking permission to leave. You take their hand (with your right hand-NOT left) and bow a little and bring their hand to touch your forehead/nose or maybe your cheek if you know them very well. With people you own age you just shake hands or for girls with your friends you can do the European kiss-kiss on each cheek (you just touch cheeks though, don't really kiss their cheek)
- maids are very common for middle class families which means very few chores!
- food is always on the table. Meals seem to work on a rolling basis (at least in my home) so you can eat whenever you like! Their is always nasi (rice) and then maybe 1 main dish and 2 sides which a lot of times are their for 2 meals in a row until they are gone or put away.  If the food isn't hot, you just heat it up in the microwave. Also the food is usually in the middle of the table with a woven basket type covering over it to keep flies and ants away.
- everything is extremely cheap here compared to American prices. You can get a meal and drink here for 20,000-40,000 rupiah ($2-4)! Only at the mall or really nice restaurant its more expensive. Also my uniforms cost only about $25 USD total!! For pulsa (cell phone credit) it costs about 25,000 rp. for one week- maybe it will be more later if i text more, but i've already been using my phone a lot so its cheap.  Some things are expensive here (well US equivalent or a little more) like baskin-robins ice cream, burgers, and backpacks among other stuff
- there are food vendors literally everywhere. They line all the streets and are at every corner, so there is always food just a few feet away. I ate street food after 1 week in Indonesia, and it didn't really make me sick. My stomach got upset for like 2 days (not enough to make me puke or anything tho) and now i'm completely fine. I only had cooked things though, not anything that would have been washed in the water here which can make you sick.
- American music and TV shows are common here, so there is something familiar from home.
- Indonesians love to sing. Its perfectly normal to sing in the car, or sing loudly in the shower when you have guests over!

-If you are a bule (foreigner) everyone will stare at you, especially when you are at places where tourists usually don't go (aka school, the supermarket, etc.) 
-If you are a bule random people may ask you for a picture or for an interview- i think for English class at school (yes both of these have happened to me) although this doesn't happen all the time or anything. 
-If you are a bule Indonesians will assume that you have met lots of famous people and Hollywood actors, and will ask you have you met/seen... the Glee cast, Maroon 5, Adele, etc? 
-For money college kids will do what i call 'car caroling'. They come around in groups of 5-10 and sing and dance around your car in hopes that you will be entertained enough to give them money. 
-Teenagers also a lot of times play guitar or ukelele through the streets and come up to car windows for money. They also play on the angkots (public transportation vans) and sit in the doorway (which is open) when the angkot is moving slow or in traffic, playing and singing. 
-Lots of bathrooms don't have toilet paper, but instead have a little hose (like the spray thing in the kitchen sink you can use to clean dishes) that you use to clean yourself and in Indonesia 'wet is clean'
-Even weirder, some public bathrooms or even house bathrooms are squat toilets (which may or may not flush). If they don't flush themselves you have to pour water into the toilet with a scoop to manually flush it. If its like this it also won't have a spray hose, and you have to use the scoop instead to clean yourself which is really awkward. 
-Two more weird things about bathrooms- there usually aren't towels or blow dryers to dry your hands and showers a lot of times are the traditional mandi- a tub/basin filled with water that you scoop water out of and pour over yourself to shower. They are actually really easy to use but are kinda cold.
- Girls typically don't shave their legs here, which I'm not sure how i feel about.  I mean obviously its natural, but it still seems a bit gross to me b/c I've been taught by society that its disgusting. Girls do shave their armpits though-luckily!
-At my school (and most others) not only do you wear a uniform but you also can't wear nail polish, noticeable make-up,  or jewelery other than watches and small earings (i think a lot of students break these rules though)
-black and white Converse are the uniform shoes!!
- every single food here is fried. goreng, goreng, goreng! And they say America is unhealthy!
- you have to pay to park everywhere
- all houses and most restaurants, shops, schools, etc (besides the little shack stores and houses) are gated. 
- I haven't seen any houses with a yard bigger than a large bedroom (but i haven't been out of the city)
-maids and drivers are common and maids usually live in the home 
-some parking garages have separate women only parking areas. I asked and AFS volunteer why and she said 'b/c women are worse drivers than men'!! And im pretty sure she was being serious.
-when you go to any sort of restaurant, or cafe (even fast food) you don't have to pick up the trash from your table- the workers do it for you
- school has about 16 subjects. 4/5 per day and most of them you have just once or twice per week. 
- in school you stay with the same class all day and the teachers rotate around to different classes to teach their subject
-school starts at 6:30 and ends at 1:30 so if you aren't staying after school, you can just eat at home!
- citizens of Indonesia are required by law to be one of the five recognized religions (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, or Hindu) and this information is on their ID card
-almost all lotions here are whitening lotion, because Indonesians think that having lighter skin is more attractive
- the government censors TV and movies (not very strictly though). The internet isn't censored though.

- People only where seat belts in the front seats of cars, if even. It's illegal not to wear a seat belt, but no one really gets pulled over for it
- Roads the width of one vehicle are two-way streets
- Up to four people ride on one motocycle, and women often carry newborn babies on them.
- Im almost positive there are no such things as car seats.
- Lots of people don't wear helmets (illegal) or just don't buckle them...
- Cars drive into oncoming traffic if there is room in the lane
- on some roads lanes are completely ignored all together
-i think i have seen a total of 4 stoplights while I've been here
- Most adult men and lots of women too smoke cigarettes 
- little kids come up to car windows and beg even in the rain. AFS told us that a lot of times the kids are being used and are 'trained' to beg so that if you give them money it doesn't actually go to them or help them a lot of times. so sad :( 
- the back of supply trucks are used as a common form of transportation. Tons of people sit or stand on top of the stuff in the back or even sit on a makeshift 'deck' for a car- like a little wooden platform coming off of the back bumper, or like one of those things that you attach to the back of a car to put suitcases and trunks on


Monday, October 1, 2012

Rumah Baru Saya

My new home in Bandung <3

 my street. It looks pretty calm, but there are actually a lot of cars that cut through and about every hour maybe more like every 20-30 mins actually, you hear a food vendor come by. They ring a bell usually or yell out, kinda like when an ice cream truck comes in the U.S. also different vendors make different sounds, like the high pitched bell is ice cream and the lower pitched gong noise is nasi goreng or some type of food with meat i think.

the ally-way next to my house. I went outside for the first time alone today and started walking up it, but it went up to some houses and I kinda felt like i was snooping around plus a few ppl walked past and kept staring at me so i ran back down. I only made it about 300 ft from my house haha.