This post is a quick update about finishing up my Fulbright ETA grant and my last month in Indonesia.
“Sampai jumpa nanti Surabaya” means “See you later Surabaya”
Goodbye Indonesia and Greetings from Malaysia!
I know what you’re thinking.
“What? Huh? Why? How did you get over there?! Weren’t you just in Indonesia?”
Yeah, I’m actually having a similar reaction.
Long story short, I finished my 9 months in Indonesia as a Fulbright ETA. My plan is to travel for a bit before I come home and I am currently in Malaysia.
Back during the first week of April, I flew back from the words competition with Miss Kelly and our students, Inaya and Tyo. Kelly’s school driver picked us up at the airport and took us to the Gubeng district of Surabaya. We then went to a cancer museum (yes, the cancer museum is where they were holding registration for foreign scholarship applications…) to pick up online pins and verification codes for our students applying to scholarships in the U.S.
As we sat in traffic on the way back, I laughed and said Kelly what are we even doing here? The whole situation was so weird. For goodness sake, we ate dinner at the ambassador’s house less than 24 hours before this conversation. Less than a year ago, I was working as a technology consultant in Philadelphia.
Here are the things I did after returning from the April WORDS competition in Jakarta:
- Spent time with neighbors, teachers, friends and students
- Ate goodbye dinners with a ton of people
- Made presents, wrote thank you cards, and handed out kenang kenangan (it’s like a small present to remember me by)
- Had two goodbye lunches with teachers (one with vegan duck LOLOL)
- Hopped on 2387139812 Go-Jeks
- Flew to Borneo and slept on a boat for a few nights while floating down a river to see orangutans
- Finished up a few projects
- Students threw me a going away party where they sang songs, presented videos, gave speeches and made me cry
- Went to a waterfall!
- Saw a few tourist sites on my Surabaya bucket list
- Caused some trouble with Kelly #TeamNakal
- Picked up final stuff from the market and tailor
- Went rafting with teachers
- Wrote 342703843247 reports
- Missed Dhrumit’s graduation from law school:(
- Ate tons of fried stuff and nasi pecel
- Presented seminars at Universitas Airlangga, Universitas Adi Buana and the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya to over 400 people with Kelly
- Did some last minute souvenir shopping
- Dealt with Indonesian immigration to get my exit permit for my work visa….-____-
- Finalized my letter exchange project with my high school in NJ and my students in Indonesia (we FINALLY got the letters after Indonesian customs held them in Jakarta for security clearance…)
- Cleaned out my desks and cabinets at school
- Packed up my house into two suitcases
Things got a little busy. On my last night in Surabaya, I found myself sitting on the back of a motorbike in traffic eating fried stuff on my way to buy souvenirs!
Then Sunday, May 20th 2017, after tying up lose ends, I had to say my goodbyes to everyone in Surabaya. I preferred to say “sampai jumpa nanti” which means “see you later”.
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No matter where you go, it's always the people there that make it the hardest to say goodbye. The past 9 months as a Fulbright ETA was a crazy ride. I left Surabaya yesterday and am currently in Jakarta. The best part of my grant in Indonesia was meeting so many kindhearted people. I was a mere stranger who arrived in August but so many people in the Surabaya community found space for me in their hearts. They treated me like family. I am floored by the generosity of the Indonesian people, especially my teacher friends and administrators at SMA Khadijah, my students, friends, local university students and more. I can't thank them enough for their love. Aku akan merindukan kalian semua. I will miss you all! #surabaya #indonesia @fulbrightindonesia
I flew to Jakarta with Kelly for our Fulbright “disorientation” to deal with a few housekeeping things and to say goodbye to my cohort. It was hard to believe that this would be the last time we would all be together as a big crazy group. It was sad parting ways because this group is full of the most thoughtful, amazing people I’ve ever met.
Then I was set free May 22nd and I flew to Malaysia with my friend Kiana who is a fellow ETA.
A lot has happened in the 9 months–especially in the last month. This year has sure been something. There were highs, lows and everything in between. It’s just funny, breathtaking, odd, utter madness and more. AND I’ve loved every second of it. Looking back, this whole year seem surreal. My brain is still spinning trying to grasp all of it and I’m not ready to digest the whole experience just yet.
Many friends at home have asked why I’m so confused.
Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s a lot to process.
- There were so many changes at once, my brain got all binung (confused in Bahasa Indonesia). The culture, language, job, friends, and environment were all new and different to me.
- Living in a culture that’s so different from mine was really difficult.
- After 9 months of trying to figure it out, I finally have the hang of it and now I have to go home.
- I can’t stop speaking Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Jawa.
- It was hard to say goodbye all of my new friends and I’ll miss them.
- I’m having difficulties digesting the good and bad realities of the world and education system.
- I’ve seen how colonial legacy, racism, subjugation of non-white bodies, women’s inequality and oppression are alive in a setting that’s not New Jersey. These themes exist everywhere in the world. Frankly, it is disgusting.
- I wonder if I made a positive impact in my classrooms, school community, and local community. How do I know if I accomplished what I set out to do? Was 9 months enough time to do it? Did I do a good job?
- What am I going to do when I get home?!??!!? I NEED A JOB AND HEALTH INSURANCE!
- Finally, I did SO much in 9 months to the point where it feels like a dream. I’m not exhausted. I’m just in awe. I am so grateful for these experiences. How did I get so lucky that all of these opportunities fell on my lap like that like? How was it possible to do that? Even at home, I run around a lot but the amount of running around I did in Indonesia just took it to another level.
Although this grant is over, I want to continue writing about my experience from this past year. I’m traveling around Malaysia for a bit and will be home in June. Stay tuned for more Indonesia related blog posts!
As for you, Indonesia…I’ll be back for you sometime in the future. I know it!
P.S. I’m sorry in advance for all of the #TBT and #latergram Indonesia-related Instagram posts.