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.
After 36 hours in transportation of all sorts, the first half of ID10 finally landed in Surabaya, Indonesia. As tired as I was, I was equally excited. We finally made it to Indonesia after a week of visa delays. After spending the first night in Surabaya, we hopped on another bus and headed to Kediri, where we’ll be training for the next 3 months. It’s now been 3 days since I’ve been in Indonesia and my days have been filled with a lot of important information, most importantly Bahasa Indonesian (the official language of Indonesia)!
I’m so excited to finally be learning Bahasa Indonesian. I’ve been having a harder time picking up the language than I had anticipated, but I keep reminding myself, we’ve only spent 2 days. With time, I know I will be able to master this language. I’m glad we’ve spent the past 2 days learning as much as we could, because tomorrow we’re moving in with our first host family. I am both excited and scared at the same time since my Bahasa Indonesian is very limited, but I'm R E A D Y !
After a long and emotional morning flight to LA from Wisconsin, I was exhausted. Shortly after arriving at the hotel, I officially became a Peace Corps trainee. Then our group of 74 trainees were notified that we would not be flying out to Indonesia the following morning (as planned) due to visa issues. We all learned the meaning of being flexible in the Peace Corps real quick!
We've been notified that flights are booked to depart this Sunday...let's hope we really go to Indonesia this time!
This is what I'm bringing with me to Indonesia. Hopefully, you'll find it helpful :)
***Just an FYI, I packed these things using my experiences from other SE Asian country I've visited as a reference.
I was one of the happiest days of my life as I opened up my email and there it was the email I’ve been waiting for. It started out
“Dear Mai Sia,
Congratulations! On behalf of the entire Peace Corps family, I'm delighted to invite you to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Indonesia. You've been selected to serve as a/an Secondary Education English Teacher, departing March 20, 2016. By accepting this invitation, you will join hundreds of thousands of Americans who have answered the call to service and made a difference in communities around the world.”
A wave of excitement took over me as I shared the information with my boyfriend, who happened to be in the room with me. Minutes later, the reality of the situation struck me, “Am I really ready to do this?” For a few minutes there, I hesitated to accept my invitation as a million thoughts ran through my head. It wasn’t that I haven’t thought about being away from friends and family for two years, but it was because Peace Corps seemed so far out of my reach and now that it was actually happening, I was scared.
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