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Feeling alone…and far away

  • Name: Ian Morris
  • Destination: Padang and Bukittingi, Indonesia
  • When: Year, 1988-1989
  • Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • Organization:

 

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They brought us to the house and my host mother seemed completely surprised at the woman running the program and myself having arrived there.  My host father was working in the yard, and was wearing shorts and a tank top.

I saw the woman from the local coordinating group talking to him, and even though I didn’t speak any of the language, I could tell exactly what was going on.

She was saying, “Do you remember a month ago when we told you that we might be able to find an American student to stay with you?  Well this is it, he’s here.  Remember when we told you that?”

 

Indonesian soup bowl

Indonesian soup bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Clearly he hadn’t been told that I was coming that day, or any time really, and he may not have even known that he had been given a student.  So the contrast–with what we saw in LA with this informal but organized and deliberate process, and what we saw at our actual homestay, which was this kind of a let’s-see-what-happens attitude.  They were really just kind of playing it by ear.

Of course, over time I realized that it’s just the way things were done and there’s not an emphasis in Indonesian culture on rigorous planning.  It’s just not the same.

I remember getting into my room–and I shared a room with my host brother–and sitting there with my bags as I unpacked, and then feeling alone…and far away.

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