***With the Peace Corps, we get placed with a PST (pre-service training) host family while we’re training for the first 3 months. Half way through PST we get to find out where we’ll be placed and work for the next 2 years.
My group has had two long anxious weeks waiting for our permanent site announcement day! I’m happy to say…I’m going to Mogokerto! It’s only a 2 hr bus ride from Kediri (the village I’m currently training in) and 1 hour away from Surabaya, which is where the Peace Corps office is located. I’m super excited because I’ll be teaching at a SMA (public high school) and I’m also very nervous as well since my only “real” teaching experience is with my practicum school right now. But I’m confident Peace Corps training will prepare me well for my service.
I’m a little sad that I don’t have any of my fellow ID10’s as site mates but luckily the closest ID10 to Mojokerto is only 2 hours away in Kediri. Additionally, I also have an ID9 in Mojokerto who lives about 1.5 hr (bike ride) from me. So I will be able to learn a lot from her.
Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a bus to Mogokerto to visit my permanent site, school, and meet my new host family. It’s all so exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time! I will have a host grandma, a host mom, a host dad (who won’t be around much because of work), and 2 little host sisters! I’m so excited to meet them all tomorrow.
I’m becoming very bad at updating and writing on my blog. There is no excuse besides how long and crazy PST (Pre-Service Training) days can be. Most days I wake up at 5 am, mandi (bucket bath), get ready, eat breakfast and try to squeeze in laundry time (I’m lucky, my PST host family has a washing machine) all before language class at 7 am. From 7-12 pm is language class, which is actually taught at my house (again, I’m very lucky). My language cluster consists of only 4 volunteers (all language classes are small, 4-7 volunteers). Then we have a lunch break from 12-1 pm. After lunch we all bike over to the next village for TEFL training since we’re all going to be English teachers. That typically last until 5 pm and I usually get home by 5:30 pm. As soon as I get home, I take a nice cold mandi because I’m always swimming in my own sweat. By the time I’m done with my mandi, my ibu usually has makan malam (dinner) ready. The rest of the night is spent sitting outside of my front porch conversing (with the little bahasa Indonesia I know) with my host family and neighbors. My nights typically end around 8:30 pm because I’m usually very exhausted by the end of the day. Blame it on the HEAT!
This week, we started practicums at the local middle schools/high schools in Kediri. (More about practicums and what it’s like working with Indonesian counterparts will come in a later blog). My schedule is still similar with long days. I have practicums in the mornings followed by 5 hours of language training at the end of the day. My language cluster and I have quickly discovered that a small 30-minute nap session after lunch makes a world of difference in our long busy days. It’s now officially a Blab B (my cluster name) thing.
I sometimes find myself just sitting outside my house staring into the street and deeply lost in thoughts about my life back in America. To say I don’t miss it would be a lie, I do miss how comfortable my life in America was and most importantly I miss being surrounded by people who love me. It is challenging to be stripped away from friends and family and placed in an unknown village with very little knowledge of the language. But like one of my fellow ID10 said after a short discussion we had about the loneliness we were encountering at our host family's home, “Peace Corps isn’t meant to be easy.”
The words, “Peace Corps was one of the most challenging thing I’ve ever done” echoed at the back of my mind as I recalled many RPCVs describing their Peace Corps experiences. I can see that now and it's just the beginning. It’s only uphill from here, but I am optimistic! If others can do it, so can I!
Soon the abnormal will become the normal and I just cant wait.
After taking a morning walk with my ibu (host mom), I spent the morning slowly observing the movements of this village. All the ibus are up walking around the neighborhood at 6 in the morning while all the bapaks sit around shirtless outside their home. All the children are up and running around playing with whatever they could find. There are many children around my house and I've discovered they're the best language partners. Yesterday, I spent the entire evening talking to them and learning all their names with my limited bahasa Indonesian.
With all the movement of the village, I couldn’t help but think about how much I was missing my own home. I had my first cry since leaving my family at the airport in Wisconsin. I’m not typically a crier but with no internet access and no way to reach my support system back at home, it was much needed. It has finally settled in that I am away from home. I miss my little nephew, niece, and their warm hugs. On the bright side, I am surrounded by children who are equally eager to get to know me, as I am to know them.
My ibu, Yunanti, is the best. So far she is my only friend in the village. I’ve met a couple of other women but my limited language skills has made it difficult to keep a conversation. I am determined to find more female friends in this village besides a few of my other ID10 who are near by. I have two younger host brothers who are 13 and 7 and they don’t seem to want to do anything with me. The best conversation I’ve had with them is “Hi, my name is Sia.” We occasionally exchange smiles but that’s about it. I like to believe they’re just shy or I blame it on their age.
I hope they warm up to me soon because they’re making me miss my not-so-little brother. There’s also my next door neighbor who has a little boy that’s around the same age as my little nephew Mason. It nearly brought tears to my eyes when I saw him because my little nephew is so dear to my heart. I miss him…a lot
I’ve just arrived at my pre-service training host family and for the first time in 2 weeks I feel alone, completely alone. Since my group had an extended staging, my fellow ID10s have become my support system away from home. It’s strange to be stripped away from them, but the great thing is I get to see a few of them tomorrow. We’re all split up into language clusters of 5 and will meet daily for language training.
I spent about the first half hour after eating lunch with my ibu (host mom) giving myself a pap talk. To be honest, being alone really makes me question my desire of wanting to be a Peace Corps volunteer. I know this is just the very beginning and it’s ok to feel lonely and out of place. I have the next 3 months to learn as much as I can and I’m glad to finally be able to be a part of the community.
This is where I share my journey in the Peace Corps. The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
Hi welcome to my blog. My name is Sia and this is my safe haven. This is a place for me to write, journal, and share ideas.
IG @ ms.sia.chang