AP HuG Student Questions

47 thoughts on “AP HuG Student Questions

  1. Holidays Questions

    1. During Ramadan, do children go to school and if so what time do they go if they eat so early and late? (Hailey W.)

    2. For Eid al-Adha does each family purchase a goat or do they share as a community to sacrifice? (Hailey W.)

    3. When you celebrated Independence Day, did you experience the neighborhood celebrations and games? How did this celebration differ from the ones in the U.S.? (Hailey L.)

    4. Did you celebrate Christmas in Indonesia? (Hailey L.)

    5. Why do they take so long off work/school for holidays? (Katie F.)

    6. Which holiday is the most fun to celebrate? (Katie F.)

    • 1. During Ramadan, do children go to school and if so what time do they go if they eat so early and late? (Hailey W.)

      Yes, children still go to school, but it’s extremely limited days. Usually, my school starts at 6:45 in the morning and goes until about 3 in the afternoon. During Ramadan, the school days start at the same time, but they only go until 11 in the afternoon (or just whenever the administrators decide to release the students). Also, during Ramadan, the curriculum also changes from the regular subjects to mainly religious subjects, even though my school is a public school and not everyone there is a Muslim. The 5 or so students that aren’t Muslim either work on other projects or just sit through the class.

      2. For Eid al-Adha does each family purchase a goat or do they share as a community to sacrifice? (Hailey W.)

      The community usually pitches in and buys animals to sacrifice. Like any neighborhood, some people are more well-off than others, so the richer families tend to pitch in more than the poorer families. In my neighborhood, we had one big cow and 4 goats that were sacrificed. Additionally, my school also bought a cow, sacrificed it in front of the school, and then distributed the meat to the needy in the village. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how there’s no “separation between the church and state” ideology here (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

      3. When you celebrated Independence Day, did you experience the neighborhood celebrations and games? How did this celebration differ from the ones in the U.S.? (Hailey L.)

      Yes! The idea behind them is actually pretty similar to the United States. There are “block parties” where everyone is out and about and the little kids are making a lot of noise. Each neighborhood gets decorated with a lot of streamers and just a bunch of shiny things in general (CDs are very popular for this). Colored plastic bags are also a common decoration to string up along/over the street. For the games, it’s usually run by the older kids (those already in high school and older), and usually only the littler kids partake in them. Although, I did play tug-o-war with my community during last year’s festivities too. I think the funniest game that I’ve seen is when a kid has a string attached to them at the waist and at the end is a little hoop. The goal is to get the hoop around an old-school glass soda bottle. It’s just like the ring toss game at carnivals, except the hoop is attached to you.

      4. Did you celebrate Christmas in Indonesia? (Hailey L.)

      Yes. I actually celebrated it at a friend’s village, which happens to have a nice, secluded beach. Since Indonesia is hot year-round, I swam in the ocean all day with a bunch of friends. It was nice. Christmas is a big time for Volunteers to travel, and some end up going to different parts of the country where there is a Christian-majority population, so they end up going to church if they want to. Indonesia considers Christmas day a national holiday, even though nothing ever gets done on Christmas Eve too. Indonesians love their holidays!

      5. Why do they take so long off work/school for holidays? (Katie F.)

      Indonesians simply value their time in a different way from Americans. I tell everyone the age-old American saying “time is money”, and Indonesians just chuckle at that. They know that Indonesians are a lot more lax about time than other countries, and that’s perfectly fine with them. This ends up spilling over to the holidays, too. Holidays are a time for family to all get together and spend time with each other. Combine this with the fact that Indonesians are so family oriented, and that explains why they take so much time off.

      6. Which holiday is the most fun to celebrate? (Katie F.)

      Idul Fitri. By Far. Because there’s a lot of food and snacks. And I love Indonesian food and snacks. They’re delicious! It can be a little tiring, simply because there’s always a lot of people filtering in and out of the house, so you don’t get much rest, but it’s fun nevertheless seeing everyone. It’s also a time to visit a lot of other people’s houses and everyone is just so happy during this time, which makes it even better.

  2. The Arts Questions

    1. How do Indonesian arts compare to American arts? (Norah L.)

    2. Are the arts a large part of Indonesian culture? (Norah L.)

    3. Is there any specific reason cigarette packs are thrown on stage? (Anna L.)

    4. Why are certain dances gendered? (Anna L.)

    5. Do Indonesian people enjoy some of the same music we do? (Linnea C.)

    6. Do you know of people in Indonesia that enjoy similar dancing styles to Americans? (Linnea C.)

    • 1. How do Indonesian arts compare to American arts? (Norah L.)

      Oh man. There could be entire books written about Indonesian arts. In fact, I’m sure there are. Indonesians tend to focus more on dancing and clothes when it comes to art. I can’t think of many famous photographers or painters. Only a couple of movies by Indonesians come out every month (most of the movie theatres are full of American movies that are censored and have Indonesian subtitles). There have been a couple of famous authors in Indonesian history, but you probably haven’t heard of them, unfortunately. When it comes to dancing, every ethnic group seems to have a traditional dance. You always hear, “Oh, it’s a Javanese/Balinese/Sundanese dance”. These dances can either be a traditional synchronized dance, or they can be more of a performance. My favorite dance is called “Kuda Lumping” (bamboo horse). For clothing, every province (a.k.a. state) has their own special traditional clothing (there are 34 provinces in Indonesia). I couldn’t find any English sites that has pictures of every province’s clothing, but if you are interested, you could try googling “Pakaian Adat Indonesia” and try to wade through the Indonesian websites and blogs.

      2. Are the arts a large part of Indonesian culture? (Norah L.)

      Yes, and no. They used to be really big, but as Indonesia is becoming more modern, the kids have turned away more from the traditional arts. That being said, there are still many traditional dances that are performed at special events, such as weddings, graduations, birthdays, or circumcisions (which is the coming-of-age ceremony for Muslim boys). There are still many people that enjoy traditional Indonesian arts, but the western world definitely has made a big impact on your typical teenager. When asked to draw something for art class, most of the people either draw Spongebob Squarepants or some Japanese anime character (mostly Dragonball Z characters). Masha and the Bear, which is a Russian children’s show, is also really popular with the little ones here.

      3. Is there any specific reason cigarette packs are thrown on stage? (Anna L.)

      No. I actually haven’t seen too many cigarette packs being thrown on a stage, although in some situations they can be substituted for money if you don’t have any money on you. When a busker (street performer) starts to perform on a bus, it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a cigarette instead of money. In most situations, money is preferred, but giving cigarettes also sometimes works. There is just a culture of smoking ingrained in society here (but only for men! I’ve only seen 2 women smoke here, and both were very old and past the point of caring what anyone thought about them). My little cousins who are around 10 years old regularly buy cigarettes for my host dad. It’s so normalized that it’s just like going to the local corner store and buying a soda. Technically, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to be smoking, but the cops in tiny towns don’t do anything anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

      4. Why are certain dances gendered? (Anna L.)

      I can’t explain this other than to say that’s just how it is. Some dances are becoming more lax on the whole strict gender rule, but some still remain firmly entrenched in the old ways. An interesting thing to point out too is that cross-dressing is entirely fine, as long as it’s within the scope of a dance or a performance. So sometimes you see men dressed as women, despite the conservative nature of Indonesian society.

      5. Do Indonesian people enjoy some of the same music we do? (Linnea C.)

      The younger kids do. You would be surprised at how many American bands that my students know. I think the most popular band at my school is Avenged Sevenfold, even though none of my students can understand the lyrics. The music and the fact that they’re from America is what’s important to them. One of my students asked me where Long Beach is, and I couldn’t stop laughing because I was surprised that he had even heard of it. Other bands in the hard rock genre as also popular with the younger generation. The most popular Indonesian music is simply referred to as “dangdut”. It originally comes from India, but Indonesia has also made it their own style of music. Dangdut songs almost always deal with love and broken hearts and losing somebody, and most of them are karaoke songs too. Karaoke is Indonesia’s favorite pastime. You just can’t escape it!

      6. Do you know of people in Indonesia that enjoy similar dancing styles to Americans? (Linnea C.)

      Indonesians love dancing, but it’s nowhere close to the American style of dancing. Indonesians enjoy American songs, but I have yet to see an Indonesian know the dance to “single ladies” or the Dougie or any other famous dance that you can think of. When an Indonesian dances, it’s usually as part of a performance or it’s just by themselves in a big group. There’s not too much coordination happening in informal dances.

  3. Recreation Questions

    1. What are the more popular sports? (Sherif F.)

    2. Are you good at these sports? (Sherif F.)

    3. What are the main differences between Indonesian sports and American sports? (Lucy V.)

    4. Are Indonesian sports harder than American sports? (Lucy V.)

    5. Do boys and girls dance or is it more for girls? (Isabel S.)

    6. Do kids play soccer on nice grass fields or on dirt? (Isabel S.)

    • 1. What are the more popular sports? (Sherif F.)

      Soccer is king of all sports here. Indonesians are crazy about their soccer teams and there are a lot of rivalries between clubs here. Going along with soccer, futsal is also very popular. In case if you don’t know what futsal is, it’s just indoor soccer, played on a much smaller field and a much quicker pace. For girls, the most popular sport is volleyball (it’s also popular with guys, but not as much). Basketball also has a toehold here in Indonesia, although it’s usually only in the bigger areas.

      2. Are you good at these sports? (Sherif F.)

      Nope. Not at all. Not even a single bit. I’ve only played a little volleyball, and Indonesians are so much better at it than me. My favorite sport is baseball, which I have not even seen a little bit of here, unfortunately. I’ve tried playing soccer/futsal, but I’ve failed miserably.

      3. What are the main differences between Indonesian sports and American sports? (Lucy V.)

      Americans are a lot more competitive about their sports than Indonesians. The people in my village are huge soccer fans, but none of them have been to a single professional game simply because it is too far away and too expensive. Whereas Americans are willing to drive hours one way to get to a game, that isn’t the case for Indonesians. Indonesians also typically don’t save money to attend soccer matches (at least in the small villages), whereas many American families actively budget and spend a lot of money in order to attend a professional game. Also, there are hardly any sports competitions for schools. My school only has a soccer and volleyball team, and they only compete a couple of times a year. Sports are a lot less important to Indonesians, mainly because the culture places less importance on being competitive and striving to be number 1. People don’t like to stand out as much here as they do in America.

      4. Are Indonesian sports harder than American sports? (Lucy V.)

      I would say that they are easier, simply because they are less important to Indonesians than they are to Americans. Like everything, there are exceptions to this rule. There are some fantastic soccer players here in Indonesia, although if they get too good, they are usually snatched up by foreign clubs from Malaysia and even Europe, which dilutes the competitiveness of Indonesian sports.

      5. Do boys and girls dance or is it more for girls? (Isabel S.)

      Both boys and girls dance, although I would say that girls dance more. Boys do more “macho” dances, like re-enacting fighting scenes or portraying strong mythological people. Girls tend to do the more “delicate” dances that require a lot of precision and technique and synchronization. Girls at my school are also part of a dance club, where guys just practice dances when they need to do so.

      6. Do kids play soccer on nice grass fields or on dirt? (Isabel S.)

      At my school, the students play on the massive concrete courtyard that is in between all of the school buildings. When the kids in my village play, they just find any odd piece of land and go for it. There is a combined soccer field and volleyball court in this one part of my village, and the only upkeep that it receives is from the grazing sheep that someone has. It’s pretty run-down, but it’s not entirely dirt. There are definitely a lot of potholes in it, and while this doesn’t seem to faze the kids that run on it every week, I’ve had too many close calls to go back on it.

  4. Diet Questions

    1. Was it hard to adapt to the Indonesian diet? (Melissa P.)

    2. What would your favorite Indonesian food be? If you can’t pick a favorite, what do you eat frequently? (Melissa P.)

    3. What are some of the unique delicacies in the Indonesian diet? (John S.)

    4. Was it hard to get used to eating rice all the time? (John S. )

    5. What about the Indonesian diet would Americans find odd? (Bennett S.)

    6. Because of all these crops used for food, is farming a major or even forced occupation? (Bennett S.)

    • 1. Was it hard to adapt to the Indonesian diet? (Melissa P.)

      For me, not really. Others had a lot harder time though. Like I said before, I absolutely love food. I am not picky about any food at all (except asparagus…I hate asparagus!). I generally like everything that I eat, even though I don’t always know exactly what I’m eating. The only downfall of the typical Indonesian diet is that it doesn’t have a lot of variety and is very monotonous and sometimes bland.

      2. What would your favorite Indonesian food be? If you can’t pick a favorite, what do you eat frequently? (Melissa P.)

      My favorite Indonesian food is actually a fruit by the name of jackfruit. It’s found all over Southeast Asia, and is plentiful in Indonesia, although there isn’t too much of it in America. Indonesians laugh at how much I love jackfruit, and they always warn me that if I eat too much, then I will get a stomachache, but that has yet to happen. My favorite dish here is nasi pecel, which is rice, boiled vegetables, fried tofu, fried tempeh, and topped with peanut sauce.

      3. What are some of the unique delicacies in the Indonesian diet? (John S.)

      Funny story time: when I first got to Indonesia and moved in to my first Indonesian host family, they served me chicken feet for lunch. Even though I knew that it was rude to refuse food, there was absolutely no chance that I could eat chicken feet. Although Indonesians don’t have chicken feet all the time, there are quite a lot of people that like them. A more common food that is a little bit off-putting for me is fish with their heads still on and everything. I know a lot of people are used to this, but I’ve never been big on fishing and eating fish, so this still kinda gets to me. I regularly eat beef skin, which almost has a hard gelatin-y constancy to it. Those are just the common ones in my area. Indonesia is a humongous country and there are many unique delicacies in this country.

      4. Was it hard to get used to eating rice all the time? (John S.)

      I would say so. Now it is automatic, but in the beginning I forgot to take rice all the time. Still today, Indonesians that don’t know me remark at how little rice I eat. They wonder how I’m able to get full without eating a lot of rice. At this point in time, I don’t mind eating rice at all, but I probably won’t continue the practice after I’m done with Indonesia.

      5. What about the Indonesian diet would Americans find odd? (Bennett S.)

      Probably the amount of rice that Indonesians are able to consume. A common Indonesian thought is that if you don’t eat rice, than you’re not allowed to say that you had a meal. You could eat an entire chicken, and Indonesians still wouldn’t consider it a meal unless there was rice served with it. Indonesians also love their sugar. They add sugar to everything that they can. The drinks here are all so sweet. Like I said, I’m not picky at all, so I like them, but some other Volunteers complain about how sweet they are. Indonesians also typically don’t eat a lot of fruits or raw vegetables, even though there are plenty of them around. One last thing is that a lot of Indonesian eat a lot of tofu and tempeh. A $2 package of tofu in America costs around 15 cents here in Indonesia, so it’s pretty common to eat it every day.

      6. Because of all these crops used for food, is farming a major or even forced occupation? (Bennett S.)

      I would say that farming is the most important occupation in Indonesia. No one definitely forces anyone to be a farmer, but if you live surrounded by farmland and most of your families are farmers, then chances are that you will become a farmer yourself. The major crops in my village are sugar cane and rice. People obviously grow the rice as a subsistence crop – meaning they eat most of what they grow, and sell the rest that they don’t plan on eating. All of the sugar cane is sold to the sugar company and processed at the sugar plant that’s about 6.5 miles away. I would say that a lot of the farmers in my village are proud of being farmers. Sure, it might not be the first choice in careers, but it does put food on the table and that’s something to take pride in. Indonesia really focuses on being a “big family”, so if you can help other people to eat by being a farmer, then that makes it a very important job.

  5. Life Cycle – Death Questions

    1. What is a post-funeral party like? (Graham L.)

    2. How do Indonesians react to death? (Graham L.)

    3. What are the INdonesian spiritual beliefs behind the concept of death? (Sam K.)

    4. How is the funeral ceremony conducted? (Sam K.)

    • 1. What is a post-funeral party like? (Graham L.)

      How an Indonesian celebrates the life of a dead person varies greatly based on where they are from and what religion they are a part of. In general, Indonesians are very personal and reserved when it comes to death. You hear people talk about people that have recently passed away, but hardly any tears are shed for them in public. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t sad; grieving for someone is just something that is done in the privacy of one’s house. If someone was really close to the person, then you might see them cry, but it won’t be for too long. A typical Indonesian funeral where I am consists of a quick viewing of the body (usually wrapped in a batik cloth), followed by the ritual washing of the body, then the body is wrapped in a white cloth, placed on a stretcher, and carried to a cemetery, which is usually less than a 10 minute walk away. All the people follow to the cemetery, where the body is buried, a prayer is said, and then people go back to living their lives. I went to one funeral where, after the body was buried, I rode by the house not 10 minutes later, and the family was outside washing their clothes and sweeping. It’s important to bring either rice or money when you go to a funeral also, as a gesture of helping the family. For Muslims, it’s super super super important to be buried within 24 hours of dying. They don’t wait to bury their dead, which is sometimes shocking for me because I feel like they treat it almost like it is a chore that just needs to be done and taken care of. The celebrations of a person’s life usually come after a set interval after they have died. The celebrations are usually 3 days after a person has died, then another one at 10, then another at 100, then one final one at 1000 days (or something like that. I always hear different intervals from different people).

      The people with the most interesting death culture in Indonesia are the Torajans of Central Sulawesi. They sometimes wait a couple of years after a person dies before they are buried. After they die and before they are buried, they are simply “sick”. The Torajans wait so long because during this time, they are saving up money for the funeral. Every Torajan tries to outdo the other funerals that have been held. There are usually many cows and goats slaughtered at these funerals, with the goal of slaughtering as many as you can in order to show how rich and important the person was.

      2. How do Indonesians react to death? (Graham L.)
      See above!

      3. What are the Indonesian spiritual beliefs behind the concept of death? (Sam K.)

      Good question. I honestly can’t answer that too much, simply because it’s different from person to person. I guess the most general thing I can say is that most Indonesians are very laissez-faire about the whole situation. It isn’t the end of the world if someone dies. If someone does die, then no big deal. Indonesians know that they are in a much better place now. They are sad when someone does die, but not as much as how the typical American is. Indonesians do have the concept of ghosts, but they are more so demons than anything, and they are not based off of real people. For example, one of the most famous Indonesian ghosts is a woman with long black hair that has a whole in her stomach. The story goes that she died while giving birth to her child and after that, someone stole her child. So she roams the world looking for her child, and if a child is particularly naughty, then some parents will tell them that this ghost will come and get them and take them away. There are others, but that one is my favorite. It also explains why almost every Indonesian child is afraid of ghosts. This fact also comes in handy when the power goes out in the house at night, and you want to have a little fun with scaring the little ones of the family (not that I’ve ever done that…).

      4. How is the funeral ceremony conducted? (Sam K.)
      See above (#1…sorry)!

  6. Life Cycle – Milestones Questions

    1. What have you found to be the most important milestone in an Indonesian person’s life? (Nora S.)

    2. Is the transition into adulthood considered an especially big deal in Indonesian culture? (Nora S.)

    3. The article indicated that at the age of 17 people are able to vote. Are kids mature enough to handle this at 17 years old? (Linnea P.)

    4. Are there any other ceremonies to signify entering adulthood? (Linnea P.)

    5. Out of all the things to “cleanse the body of bad spirits”, why do they file their teeth? (Jakob S.)

    6. Why is the voting age 17 when they become adults at 16? (Jakob S.)

    • Life Cycle – Milestones Questions
      1. What have you found to be the most important milestone in an Indonesian person’s life? (Nora S.)

      I guess this both depends on the individual person and what stage they are at in their lives. For a young boy, it will be when they are circumcised. This means they are now a man and they are allowed to participate more fully in the religious community (attend Friday prayers, lead prayer groups, etc.). When they are a little bit older, it would be when they get married and start to have children. I would say that most Muslims consider their hajj to be the most important part of their lives. This is a huge event and a huge honor for people to be able to go on the hajj. A lot of people save up their entire lives just to be able to go on the hajj. There are so many people in Indonesia, that the religious authority in the government keeps a waiting list of people, and that waiting list is currently at 10 years! So when someone finally gets the notification that they will be able to go on the hajj, it’s a big deal.

      2. Is the transition into adulthood considered an especially big deal in Indonesian culture? (Nora S.)

      I would say so. It is probably the same level of importance as it is in America. Once people start to see you as an adult, you’re given a lot more responsibilities, both around the house and in your personal lives. While circumcision marks a boy’s ascent into adulthood religiously, I would say that the cultural transition into adulthood occurs once the person stops going to school and gets a real job that will support their family. For some people, this comes earlier rather than later.

      3. The article indicated that at the age of 17 people are able to vote. Are kids mature enough to handle this at 17 years old? (Linnea P.)

      Good question. I know some 17 year olds that are very immature and I wouldn’t trust their judgment with voting, although on the other hand I know some 17 year olds that are already very mature and thus deserve the chance to vote. It’s the same thing in America. There are some 18 year olds that shouldn’t have the right to vote, just because they don’t realize the consequences of their actions. But, then again, there are also some 18 year olds that I think make better choices than a lot of adults. So you just have to trust that 17/18 year olds are old enough and mature enough to vote.

      4. Are there any other ceremonies to signify entering adulthood? (Linnea P.)

      The big one would be young males getting circumcised, although this is more of a religious ceremony than anything. Other than that, there are no special ceremonies for people to enter adulthood, at least not in the area that I’m living in. There is no one thing that automatically makes you an adult.

      5. Out of all the things to “cleanse the body of bad spirits”, why do they file their teeth? (Jakob S.)

      I believe that this tradition is only found on the island of Bali, so I’m not too familiar with it. I do know that these teeth filing ceremonies have never happened anywhere that I’ve visited. The best explanation that I’ve gotten for why people file their teeth (keep in mind, it’s only the canine teeth that they file) is that the canine teeth represent the animal side of a human. By filing down the canine teeth, a person becomes less like a canine (or animal) and more like a human. There could be another better explanation, but like I said I’ve never seen this ceremony in real life and I don’t know a single person that has their teeth filed down.

      6. Why is the voting age 17 when they become adults at 16? (Jakob S.)

      That’s just the law? There are plenty of laws that I just can’t explain, and thus just go with it. There are also laws like this in America. A person legally becomes an adult when they are 18, and yet they can get their driving licenses when they are 16 (at least in California), but they can’t buy alcohol until they’re 21 years old, and can’t even rent a car from most places until they’re 25. So even though a person is legally an adult by a certain time, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are mature enough to do everything that they want to do.

  7. Life Cycle – Birth Questions

    1. Why, during one of the pregnancy ceremonies, does a father drop an egg to predict gender, when it has the largest probability of breaking? (Hannah B.)

    2. Have you witnessed one (or more) of these birth ceremonies? (Hannah B. and Jake L.)

    3. Are there any statistics that provide whether an egg break predicts the gender? (Bryce W.)

    4. Why does Indonesian culture believe babies choose their career path by randomly picking up an object? (Bryce W.)

    5. Is childbirth a big deal? How long does the celebration last? (Jake L.)

    • Life Cycle – Birth Questions
      1. Why, during one of the pregnancy ceremonies, does a father drop an egg to predict gender, when it has the largest probability of breaking? (Hannah B.)

      I must admit that I’ve never been to a pregnancy ceremony before. I’ve never even heard of a pregnancy ceremony before. I’m sure they do happen, but ceremonies like these are usually only for immediate family members. So I have no idea about the whole tradition of dropping an egg to predict the gender. My best guess is that it’s just a holdover from the old days, just like any tradition. People rationally know that an egg doesn’t predict a baby’s gender, but they still do it anyway for the sake of tradition.

      2. Have you witnessed one (or more) of these birth ceremonies? (Hannah B. and Jake L.)

      No, I’ve never been to a birthing or pregnancy ceremony. I really don’t know why either. I think it mainly has to do with the fact that I’m a male and that I’m still considered a foreigner. Just those two things closes a lot of doors for me.

      3. Are there any statistics that provide whether an egg break predicts the gender? (Bryce W.)

      Not that I know of. I think the whole “breaking an egg to predict the gender” thing is just done for tradition’s sake, and no one really keeps count on whether it tells the truth or not. It’s the same thing with Groundhog’s Day; no (rational) person truly believes that an animal can predict the future, and yet we still do it just because it’s tradition.

      4. Why does Indonesian culture believe babies choose their career path by randomly picking up an object? (Bryce W.)

      I’m pretty sure this is actually borrowed from the Chinese. Again, I’ve never seen this in real life, only heard about it. From what I can tell, people do this just for kicks, and again, tradition. I haven’t heard anybody say “well, I picked up a calculator when I was a baby, and that’s why I’m going to become a great mathematician”. It’s simply a fun little thing that parents do.

      5. Is childbirth a big deal? How long does the celebration last? (Jake L.)

      Believe it or not, it’s super underwhelming. I’m constantly seeing new babies all the time, and I’m wondering where they’re all coming from! I hardly ever see a pregnant woman, and yet all these babies have to come from somewhere. I’ve known a couple of teachers at my school that didn’t look pregnant at all, and then the next day they show up and everyone is talking about their new baby. People are excited to be pregnant, but they are also very reserved about it. If someone asks, they’ll talk about it, but they probably won’t bring it up if no one asks about it.

  8. Dating and Divorce Questions

    1. Is breaking up or divorcing consider a dishonor in Indonesian culture? (Lily M.)

    2. Why is the process of divorcing so easy to carry out? (Lars J.)

    3. What happens if he says the word “talak” during a conversation, but doesn’t mean to divorce her? (Lars J.)

    4. Is there much paperwork with divorce, or is it fairly simple? (Kyle A.)

    5. Can a woman say “talak” or only men? (Kyle A.)

    • 1. Is breaking up or divorcing consider a dishonor in Indonesian culture? (Lily M.)

      Yes, it is considered a really big dishonor in Indonesian culture. It is still a very taboo subject, so even if someone was divorced, you would never know about it. After being here for almost two years, I still haven’t heard of anybody getting a divorce.

      2. Why is the process of divorcing so easy to carry out? (Lars J.)
      I think that many materials tend to over-simplify the process of divorce in Indonesia. You can’t simply say a word and then a divorce is finalized. Both the husband and the wife need to go to a special court in order to get permission to divorce and sign papers. Even though the process might be easier to do than in America, people still never get divorces here because it is very frowned down upon.

      3. What happens if he says the word “talak” during a conversation, but doesn’t mean to divorce her? (Lars J.)

      Then it doesn’t count. The husband has to really mean it when he is saying it. Someone can walk around all day saying “talak” and have it mean nothing. Even if the husband were to say it, there are still many steps before a divorce is finalized.

      4. Is there much paperwork with divorce, or is it fairly simple? (Kyle A.)
      I honestly don’t know! I think that the process is fairly simple, but since I don’t know anyone who has gotten a divorce here, I can’t say for sure. Even if I was curious, I probably wouldn’t ask too many people since it is such a taboo subject.

      5. Can a woman say “talak” or only men? (Kyle A.)
      From my understanding, only men can say it. I know that might sound very unfair and sexist, but saying “talak” doesn’t have the legal strength as it once had back when that tradition started. The man still has to go through a special court process to get divorced and the woman also has ways to initiate the divorce if she wants to.

  9. Dating and Marriage Questions

    1. Why is money given in red envelopes? (Laura S.)

    2. Who pays for the wedding? (Laura S.)

    3. How do people of differing religions marry? (James W.)

    4. When marriages are arranged, do people typically marry in their teens or do they wait longer? (Will L.)

    • 1. Why is money given in red envelopes? (Laura S.)

      I’ve honestly never seen money being given in red envelopes. Everyone in my village either just gives the money directly to the person (rare) or puts it in a regular white envelope and hands it to the person (more common). The main people who would give money in red envelopes would be Indonesians of Chinese descent, since this practice is very big in China. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Indonesians of Chinese descent living near me, which is why this practice hasn’t spread to my village.

      2. Who pays for the wedding? (Laura S.)

      Indonesian weddings are very similar to American weddings, in that you have the much more intimate wedding ceremony where the vows are exchanged, and then you have the loud, raucous party following it. The actual marriage part in Indonesia costs very little money, whereas Indonesians are notorious for throwing crazy loud and over-the-top parties. For the party portion, it is usually split evenly between the families. If the people getting married live close to each other, then only one party will be thrown. But, if the two people live far from each other (let’s say 10+ miles), then there will usually be two separate parties. One family will have one party one day, and the other family will have another party another day. Each family pays for their own party. Couple of fun facts: the parties are usually thrown right outside of the person’s house, complete with VERY loud music and they usually last from 5 AM until midnight or 1 AM. Also, the wedding party usually doesn’t happen right after the wedding. If the family is rich, it will happen the next day, but some of them happen a year or two after the actual wedding. This is because the family is saving up enough money to throw the best party that they can.

      3. How do people of differing religions marry? (James W.)

      One of them simply has to convert to a different religion. Sometimes it’s the man that converts, and sometimes it’s the woman that converts. Who converts is each couple’s own decision. It is currently illegal to marry someone from another religion. Even though a Christian might convert to Islam, not too much pressure is put on him to become “fully” Muslim (i.e. he isn’t expected to learn to read Arabic).

      4. When marriages are arranged, do people typically marry in their teens or do they wait longer? (Will L.)

      Marriages typically aren’t arranged where I am. At least, no one that I know has had an arranged marriage. The only time that a person is “forced” to marry someone else is if they become pregnant/get someone else pregnant (being a single mother is a HUGE no-no!). Also, I would say that the typical age of marriage where I am would be late teens or early 20’s.

  10. Dating and Courtship Questions

    1. Do people where you are court each other before marriage? (Anna D.)

    2. If so, is it expected to end in marriage? (Anna D.)

    3. Why do dating styles vary from urban to rural? (Andrew M.)

    4. Why do couples get married almost straight away after meeting each other? (Andrew M.)

    5. What happens if the parents do not approve of the relationship? (Ebbie B.)

    6. What are the biggest differences between typical dating in the U.S. and dating in Indonesia? (Ebbie B.)

    7. If the couple doesn’t like each other, are they allowed to call off the engagement? (Isabelle L.)

    • 1. Do people where you are court each other before marriage? (Anna D.)

      Yes…kinda. It all depends on what your definition of “courting” is. I would say that the dating scene here in Indonesia is pretty similar to the dating scene in America. You always see young people hanging out with each other at social events. The two biggest differences are that there is absolutely no PDA here (not even holding hands) and a couple is never allowed to be in the same room together with the door closed, or even without any adults around. This even applies to us Americans. Whereas it’s common for us to hang out with boys and girls in the same room with no one around, Indonesians think this is bad. So it’s always important to keep in mind that you have to hang out in the open where you can easily be seen so that no one thinks you are doing anything inappropriate.

      2. If so, is it expected to end in marriage? (Anna D.)

      No relationship is expected to end in marriage. If a couple doesn’t want to get married, then they don’t have to. It’s much preferable to break up when dating then going through the embarrassment of getting a divorce.

      3. Why do dating styles vary from urban to rural? (Andrew M.)

      Yes, very much so. It’s the same thing with America. In the big cities, dating is much more liberal and people are allowed to do a lot more things than if you lived in a small village where everyone knew your name. There will always be families that are more liberal than other families, but in general dating is much more conservative in my village than it would be in the city.

      4. Why do couples get married almost straight away after meeting each other? (Andrew M.)

      It all depends on the couple. There’s a lot more pressure on couples here to get married when they’re young than when they get older. There’s always a pressure of getting married and then having babies right away. Big families are the norm in a village because that means you have more people to bring in more income into the family! The life expectancy in Indonesia is also lower than in America, so that factors into things.

      5. What happens if the parents do not approve of the relationship? (Ebbie B.)

      Parents play a big part in their sons’ and daughters’ relationships, so if the parents do not approve of the relationship, then it probably will end very fast. Indonesians are very family-oriented and all about “saving face”, so they won’t risk ruining the relationship with their families over dating someone. Of course, there are also those rebels in a family that will date anybody they want without regard to what their parents think.

      6. What are the biggest differences between typical dating in the U.S. and dating in Indonesia? (Ebbie B.)

      I think the biggest difference would be public displays of affection. In Indonesia, no one ever shows any public displays of affection, even after they are married. I have only seen my host mom and dad touch each other in an affectionate way two times, and both of those times have been after I was there for over a year. No one hugs, no one holds hands, and DEFINITELY no one kisses (at least out in public). The only way that you will know that someone is in a relationship in my high school is if they sit together a lot.

      7. If the couple doesn’t like each other, are they allowed to call off the engagement? (Isabelle L.)

      Yes, although this is somewhat frowned down upon. If you get engaged to someone, then you are expected to marry them. Of course, if the family sees that the relationship isn’t healthy or won’t work, then they would prefer it to be called off when you are engaged rather than getting a divorce.

  11. Housing – Urban and Rural Questions

    1. In some places, it said rent has to be paid one or two years in advance. Why? (Weston M.)

    2. What is your house like in Indonesia? (Weston M.)

    3. Do most of your students live in houses, apartments or slums? (Kate S.)

    4. How high are the rents? (Kate S.)

    5. Do they have a living area to sit and talk? (Danielle K.)

    6. Do they have TV/electronics in their houses? (Danielle K.)

    7. Why are houses, apartments and other homes so expensive? (Max L.)

    8. Have you ever been to the slums of Indonesia? Elaborate. (Max L.)

    9. How do they collect and make some of the materials needed for rural houses? (Isaiah R.)

    10. What is the first step in building a rural house? (Isaiah R.)

    • 1. In some places, it said rent has to be paid one or two years in advance. Why? (Weston M.)

      Good question. I honestly have no idea. Everybody in my village owns their houses. I can imagine that people in the big cities pay rent, but I don’t personally know anybody in the big cities that do. I haven’t had any discussions about rent with an Indonesian!

      2. What is your house like in Indonesia? (Weston M.)

      It’s a pretty standard house. Most houses here are built with bricks, and then people plaster the bricks to create a smooth surface and then usually add paint to them. My house has 3 bedrooms and then a pretty open floor plan. The bedrooms are very small – big enough for only a dresser, a bed, and a desk. People usually don’t spend any alone time in their rooms, because Indonesians usually equate being alone as being unhappy. Most Indonesian houses have a front sitting room where guests are entertained, and then a middle room that has a TV and some mattresses to lay on to nap/watch TV from. The kitchen and bathrooms are usually located in the back of the house. Most houses usually don’t have a ceiling in part of the house in an effort to keep the hot air in the upper part of the house (if you have a ceiling in your house, then all the hot air stays where you are, instead of floating up towards the roof of the house). Something that is still weird for me is that the bathrooms are always located right next to, or sometimes even in, the kitchen. So it’s pretty hard to go to the bathroom inconspicuously. Finally, most houses’ floors are tiled, and Indonesians sweep out their houses multiple times a day to keep the floor nice and clean. I would also estimate that a typical Indonesian house is about 1,500 square feet, although this all depends on how rich the family is.

      3. Do most of your students live in houses, apartments or slums? (Kate S.)

      All of my students live in houses or boarding houses. Most of my students live in their own families’ houses and those that come from far away live in local boarding houses. Apartments are very rare here (the regional capital 40 miles away is the closest place that has apartments). The cost for these boarding houses are very cheap, from what I’m told. I’ve been told that one of the local ones only costs 50,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($4) per month, although I feel like that’s too low. I would say that an average one would cost about 200,000 rupiah ($16) a month.

      4. How high are the rents? (Kate S.)

      I currently pay my family 1,000,050 rupiah ($80) per month, and that includes everything that I need. Food, water, electricity, etc. And, believe it or not, that’s actually a lot of money for rent. My host mom thinks that I’m weird for giving her so much money, since things are so cheap here. But, that’s the standard that our office sets, and so I follow it. I had an expat friend who lived in an apartment in the regional capital, and I think that she said her rent was 8,000,000 rupiah (~$640) per month, all inclusive (water, electricity, and wifi). Of course, the rent prices in the capital city of Jakarta are much more expensive than this, although I don’t know exact figures.

      5. Do they have a living area to sit and talk? (Danielle K.)

      Yes! This is probably the most-used room of the house. A typical Indonesian house will have one area for guests. This area usually has couches of some type, along with a couple small coffee tables. It’s polite for an Indonesian to serve at least coffee and/or tea to any guest that comes by. If it’s near a meal time, then they’ll offer to also give you some food. As the guest, it’s very rude to not accept anything. So, as an American here, it’s very hard to lose weight because you’re always going over to other people’s houses and constantly eating because you don’t want to offend anyone. Indonesians also have a “family room” where there’s either more couches or just mattresses that people lay on together and watch TV or just shoot the breeze. If a house is really small, then these two rooms are simply combined.

      6. Do they have TV/electronics in their houses? (Danielle K.)

      Yes, although the number depends on the family. It’s pretty rare to go into a home that doesn’t have a TV. Most of the TVs here are the “box” kind. I don’t think I’ve seen a single flat-screen TV in a house in my village. Also, if a family has a TV, then they also have a DVD player. But, families don’t really have movie nights like what might be common in America. Most families use their DVD players to play music videos or cartoon shows for the little ones.

      7. Why are houses, apartments and other homes so expensive? (Max L.)

      I really don’t know! I don’t even know how much a normal house costs. Like I said earlier, most Indonesians own their own home. These are usually passed down through families, or bought from close family friends. It’s pretty rare for an Indonesian to buy a house from a complete stranger. Indonesians also commonly build their homes from scratch.

      8. Have you ever been to the slums of Indonesia? Elaborate. (Max L.)

      No, I’ve never been to the slums of Indonesia. The only slums in Indonesia are very far away from me, in big cities that I would only vacation to. And, if I’m in the city on vacation, I wouldn’t go to the slums simply because I don’t have any business being there.

      9. How do they collect and make some of the materials needed for rural houses? (Isaiah R.)

      Indonesians actually don’t make any materials for building a house. They always buy everything or recycle things that are around them. The most common building materials for building a house are bricks, cement, and metal rebar for structural support. That’s about 95% of the material needed to build a house, and all of that is bought from local stores that are only a mile or two away.

      10. What is the first step in building a rural house? (Isaiah R.)

      The first step is getting a good foundation. Indonesians do this by digging 2 feet down where all the walls of the house are going to be. They then fill this “outline” with big rocks and concrete. They then work up from there, laying bricks to create the walls.

  12. Gender Roles Questions

    1. Do men go to college? (Elise R.)

    2. Are mothers only supposed to take care of the kids and house or can they work too? (Elise R.)

    3. Why don’t families allow unmarried daughters to live alone? (Isabella R.)

    4. I understand that men are more dominant with a variety of things but what would you say are the main benefits of being a woman? (Kinsey W.)

    5. Are the men ever allowed to do things that women are typically in charge of such as cooking and cleaning? (Kinsey W.)

    6. Do you see distinct gender roles? (Maggie R.)

    7. Do you see gender roles being broken? (Maggie R.)

    • 1. Do men go to college? (Elise R.)

      Yes, men (and women) go to college. There are many colleges here in Indonesia, and more and more Indonesian are starting to get a college degree. Of course, like in America, some colleges are better and more well-known here in Indonesia than others. Unfortunately, I don’t have any statistics about the demographics in Indonesian colleges, but the gender ratio is more even than you would think. The big factor in a person’s decision to go to college is cost; good colleges are often way too expensive for the average Indonesian, and there aren’t a lot of scholarships available.

      2. Are mothers only supposed to take care of the kids and house or can they work too? (Elise R.)

      I would say that a majority of mothers work in addition to taking care of their children. My host mom is a pre-school teacher, which means that there’s about 20-30 local kids (2-5 year olds) that come to my house 4 days a week for an hour each day. The most common job for a mother is selling stuff (clothes, food, vegetables, etc.) at the local market or running a small store out of the house that sells everyday items like eggs, some vegetables, cooking oil, ramen-type noodles, candy, and cigarettes. A smaller group of mothers work in the sugar cane and rice fields.

      3. Why don’t families allow unmarried daughters to live alone? (Isabella R.)

      It’s just the conservative nature of the culture. It’s very odd in Indonesian culture for a girl to be alone outside of the home. They’re usually with other friends or their families. It’s also weird for married women to be by themselves unless they’re working or going to the market to buy something. If an unmarried girl is by themselves for a long time, Indonesians might think that they’re asking for trouble and up to no good. It’s also very strange for a single man to be living by himself, unless he’s living in an apartment in a big city. If a person lives by himself, then Indonesians would be concerned about them being lonely and sad because they wouldn’t have anyone to talk to.

      4. I understand that men are more dominant with a variety of things but what would you say are the main benefits of being a woman? (Kinsey W.)

      Women are the backbone that holds an Indonesian family together! Men may go to work and bring in a majority of the money for the family, but a family would not function without a woman. Women take care of the children when the man is away working, cook food for the family, teach the younger children how to read and write (both Indonesian and Arabic), and dish out a majority of the punishment for naughty children. Women influence a lot more of Indonesian society than what they are given credit for. If you were to ask an Indonesian woman what the main benefit is of being a woman, they would probably say that they develop a closer relationship to their family then men do.

      5. Are the men ever allowed to do things that women are typically in charge of such as cooking and cleaning? (Kinsey W.)

      Yes, men are totally free to do anything that a woman traditionally does. It might look a little weird, but they are still free to do it. My host dad sometimes cooks for himself and sometimes watches over the children while my host mom has a meeting or something else to do. Men never fully take charge of a woman’s traditional “duties”, but they do fill-in for women from time to time.

      6. Do you see distinct gender roles? (Maggie R.)

      Most definitely! I could write an entire book about gender roles in Indonesian society, but I won’t. That might be a boring book. Just like in America, Indonesia has both clear gender roles and more ambiguous ones. Indonesian men are still expected to support the family financially, while Indonesian women support the family in other ways. Boys are allowed to play sports out in public, whereas you never see girls playing sports in public (girls still play sports at school and in school competitions). More ambiguous gender roles come into play mostly in schools. Both girls and boys are free to attend college and Indonesia is getting better at including more girls in traditional male-dominated professions such as IT and management.

      7. Do you see gender roles being broken? (Maggie R.)

      Yes! All of the time. Most of the time it is small things, such as men doing their own laundry or girls playing soccer at school. More “major” gender roles are broken too often, mainly because of social pressure. Indonesian society, much like other Asian societies, is all about “saving face”, which means they try not to bring embarrassment and shame upon their families. If someone breaks a gender role too often, then they will be publicly humiliated and socially ostracized.

  13. Lifestyle – Parents & Children Questions

    1. If a teenage girl didn’t go to school, what would she do? (Jack B.)

    2. What types of punishments are given to children who disobey? (Jack B.)

    3. Why is it common to hear mothers scold their children very loudly? (McKenna W.)

    4. Why do parents continue assisting their married children financially? (McKenna W.)

    5. Would you consider manners/politeness an important part of Indonesian culture? (Lousia Z.)

    6. Do they not believe in grounding, or just not want to? (Ashlyn A.)

    7. If the kids are “bad”, do the parents still help with education and marriage? (Ashlyn A.)

    • 1. If a teenage girl didn’t go to school, what would she do? (Jack B.)

      She would most likely stay at home and take care of the children and do other household chores. She would also most likely get a job at a store nearby or try to sell something. Also, if a girl isn’t in school, they will be more than likely get married before their peers that are still in school.

      2. What types of punishments are given to children who disobey? (Jack B.)

      Mainly they are just given a stern talk from an adult. Indonesians punish their kids relatively mildly compared to Americans punishing their kids. I’ve yet to see an Indonesian be given a time-out or be grounded. And, I’ve only seen my host mom spank my (very naughty) 5 year old host brother two times in a year and a half of being here. For students at school, a school administrator talks with them, and if it something really serious, then their parents are brought in for a conference. The only suspensions in school are self-imposed by the parents of the students and if a student is really bad, then they usually leave the school voluntarily before they can be expelled.

      3. Why is it common to hear mothers scold their children very loudly? (McKenna W.)

      It all depends on the mom. Some moms are very vocal about scolding their children, while others are more quiet. I would say that Indonesian mothers tend to be more quiet about scolding their children than being more vocal. Although, I have seen my host mom chase after my little host brother whenever he runs away because he doesn’t want to do something (like take a bath).

      4. Why do parents continue assisting their married children financially? (McKenna W.)

      Again, it depends on the family. Someone in my host family just got married, and he isn’t financially independent from the family. One of the other English teachers at my school, though, still lives with her parents despite being married and having a child. Everyone’s financial and familial situations are different. Indonesian parents tend to help their children financially more than American parents, because the concept of family is stronger in Indonesia than it tends to be in America.

      5. Would you consider manners/politeness an important part of Indonesian culture? (Lousia Z.)

      Yes. I would consider it the most important part of Indonesian culture. Even if you don’t know one word of the language, and yet still show proper manners, you will be welcomed warmly into an Indonesian household. Showing manners is such an important part of Indonesian culture, that it’s built into the language. To ask someone’s name, you would say “namamu siapa?” to a peer, but you would say “nama Anda siapa” to a superior/adult. The same thing can be seen in French (tu/vous), Spanish (tú/ustedes), and German (du/Sie).

      6. Do they not believe in grounding, or just not want to? (Ashlyn A.)

      I think it’s simply a concept that just hasn’t caught on here. Indonesians tend to punish their children in other ways, and I don’t think the concept of keeping a child home ranks high up on that list. When it’s daylight and children are out of school, they tend to roam around the neighborhood and play with their friends. Indonesian society is a lot more social than American society. Also, parents try to punish their children, but most don’t enforce them too well, and the kids know this and take advantage of this. So even if a parent were to tell a child they had to stay home, they wouldn’t do anything if they child doesn’t stay home.

      7. If the kids are “bad”, do the parents still help with education and marriage? (Ashlyn A.)

      It depends on the family. I would say that most families tend to help their “bad” kids with education and marriage, unless that kid truly is a nightmare. Indonesians don’t give up on their family members easily, which is a good thing! I don’t know a single person who has been completely “abandoned” by their family, since families here are so big, that there’s always someone that will help them out.

  14. Lifestyle – Family Structure Questions

    1. What is the main difference you notice that is different? (Jonathan M.)

    2. What is it like to live in a house with grandparents, etc.? What does a typical day look like? (Annabel G.)

    3. Did you witness extreme sexism ever? (Annabel G.)

    4. Is it common in Indonesia to have a large family (like your hosts) living in multiple houses? (Katie W.)

    5. How many groups of families live in your multiple houses? (Katie W.)

    6. Was abortion illegal prior to the overpopulation concerns? (Lydia S.)

    7. Does your host family live with their grandparents? Does it make a difference in daily life? (Lydia S.)

    • 1. What is the main difference you notice that is different? (Jonathan M.)

      Families are a lot closer here. My family is super spread out all over the US, while most of my family here lives together, with the rest of the family living in the regional capital about 40 miles away. There is a lot more familial support here and a stronger sense of “family”. The main reason for an Indonesian family to be split up is for work opportunities, in which case the family member still manages to make it back home a couple times a year.

      2. What is it like to live in a house with grandparents, etc.? What does a typical day look like? (Annabel G.)

      It’s very interesting. Although I live in the house with the grandparents, the rest of the family lives in houses that are just a couple steps from my front door. I actually hardly talk to my grandparents, mainly because the grandmother only speaks the local language (that I can’t converse in), and the grandfather will talk you ear off for hours if you let them. For the most part, they wake up around 3:30 AM to pray, then they do whatever chores they need to do. They take their first nap around 9:00 AM to about 12 noon, at which time they eat and pray again. Then it’s time for nap #2. They wake up again around 3:30 PM to pray once more and start to chill with the family and cook some food. Then it’s the last two prayers of the day at 5:30 PM and 6:45 PM. After the last prayer, they sit on the porch and talk with whoever until about 8 or 9, at which time they go to bed. As for me, I wake up around 6 AM, quickly bathe, eat, dress, and hope I make it to school in time for the 6:45 AM bell. I then teach about 2 classes a day, until 2 or 3 PM. After getting home, I bathe again (you sweat A LOT here!), turn on my fan, and relax until 5 or so. At that time, I hang out with my family for the rest of night, eat dinner (by myself, usually), and read books until 8, which is when I go to bed.

      3. Did you witness extreme sexism ever? (Annabel G.)

      This question all depends on how you define “extreme”. Also, each culture has their own interpretation of sexism. There’s a lot of sexism in Indonesia from an American point of view. But, there’s hardly any sexism in Indonesia from an Indonesian point of view. And, it’s important to remember, no one person’s point of view is more correct than another’s. When I first got here, I thought there was a lot of sexism happening in America. But, as you talk with Indonesians and let them explain their reasoning behind doing certain things (such as wearing a jilbab/hijab), you start to accept a lot of things about Indonesian society that you previously labeled as “sexist”.

      4. Is it common in Indonesia to have a large family (like your hosts) living in multiple houses? (Katie W.)

      Yes. Indonesians tend to not cram too many people inside just one house. The most that I’ve ever seen is grandparents, along with one child and their spouse, and whatever small kids that they have. In my family, it’s the grandparents and me inside one house, while the four other houses have one of the grandparent’s child each along with their families.

      5. How many groups of families live in your multiple houses? (Katie W.)

      It’s really just one big family. The family tree is kind of big, but I’ll do the best that I can to describe. It’s me and the grandparents in one house. The next house has one of their daughters, her husband, and their 3 kids. The next house is one of their sons, his wife, and their 3 kids. The next house is another one of their daughters, her husband, and her 4 kids. And finally, the last house is another one of their sons, his wife, and their 2 kids. So, in the compound, there are the grandparents, and each of their 4 kids all live in separate houses with their respective families. So, a total of 23 people split amongst 5 houses. I hope that makes sense…

      6. Was abortion illegal prior to the overpopulation concerns? (Lydia S.)

      I honestly don’t know much about abortions in Indonesia. Living in a small village, you never hear of anyone having an abortion. If a girl gets pregnant, they usually give birth to it unless something medically goes wrong with the pregnancy. I do know that abortion is still illegal in Indonesia except in cases of danger to the mother and rape. Based off of this, I would say that abortion has always been illegal in Indonesia.

      7. Does your host family live with their grandparents? Does it make a difference in daily life? (Lydia S.)

      Yes, they do live with the grandparents, but not in the same house. I would say it doesn’t make that much difference in their daily lives. My grandparents are very independent people. The only thing that they don’t do is cook everything for themselves. Sometimes they rely on family members for some food, but that it. They are still very mobile and still have all of their wits about them.

  15. Eating Questions

    1. Why does the mom eat after everybody else does? (Ellie H.)

    2. Do you think it is better to buy food from vendors or in a grocery store? (Ellie H.)

    3. Why do they eat food with their right hand and not their left? (Sophie O.)

    4. Why do they wash their hands in a bowl inside of a sink? (Sophie O.)

    5. If Indonesians eat with their left hand, are there any penalities? (Megan P.)

    6. On a typical day, how much food would you buy from vendors? What is your personal favorite food from the vendors? (Megan P.)

    7. Do families sit around the table and eat together like we do? (Jonathan M.)

    • 1. Why does the mom eat after everybody else does? (Ellie H.)

      Simple answer: that’s just the culture. Digging deeper, I think this stems from the fact that moms want to make sure that everyone has had their fill and is happy before eating. They want to make sure that they don’t take any food that would stop someone from being full and satisfied. On the flip side, as a guest, you should also be aware that there will be people eating after you, so you shouldn’t take everything on the table! Interesting enough, my mom also sometimes eats with everyone else. In an everyday, informal setting, it all depends on what she wants to do.

      2. Do you think it is better to buy food from vendors or in a grocery store? (Ellie H.)

      Definitely! By buying your food from a vendor, you are directly supporting that person’s livelihood and essentially allowing them to care for their families. If you buy your food from a a grocery store, then you are only supporting that big company and not directly supporting the people that work there. In Indonesia, a majority of people buy their everyday food from vendors. My favorite is the tofu guy. He comes around and sells tofu out off of his motorcycle. And it’s super cheap here, too! Also, it should be noted that the nearest convenience store is about a 12.5 mile roundtrip and the nearest grocery store is about a 30 mile round trip, so you’re kind of forced to buy your food from vendors where I live.

      3. Why do they eat food with their right hand and not their left? (Sophie O.)

      This is mainly because the left hand is used for personal hygiene while in the bathroom. Just a warning: you may find this next part a little disgusting, but I do believe it’s a good thing to know. Indonesians traditionally don’t use toilet paper when they go to the bathroom. Instead, they use their left hands to wipe. But, they also wash their hands afterward with soap and water. I have yet to get a major sickness in the time that I’ve been here, mainly by following simple bathroom hygiene.

      4. Why do they wash their hands in a bowl inside of a sink? (Sophie O.)

      An Indonesian sink is traditionally split into two different “areas”. On the right-hand side, you have a basin filled with water. On your left-hand side, it’s a regular sink. You take a little scooper, dip it into the water, and then pour the water in the scooper onto your hands and into the sink. I think this method started because Indonesians only recently got running water into their homes. Before, they had to fetch their water from wells. So, when you fetch the water, you simply pour it into the basin, then that’s your water for the day. Also, power outages are frequent here, and when they hit, there’s no running water in the house.

      5. If Indonesians eat with their left hand, are there any penalities? (Megan P.)

      No formal penalties, but there are definitely social penalties. People will think that you are very disgusting if you use your left hand to eat. If it’s your own food, it is more ok, but if you are picking up food from a common plate, than that’s probably the grossest thing that you could do in Indonesian culture. Needless to say, there are no lefties here, and Peace Corps Volunteers that are lefties have to learn to adapt to using their right hands.

      6. On a typical day, how much food would you buy from vendors? What is your personal favorite food from the vendors? (Megan P.)

      I honestly never buy anything from vendors. I let my host mom do all the shopping, simply because she has to do it anyway, and it’s a lot easier that way. Part of the money that I pay my host mom goes toward buying food for me and cooking my meals for me. There are some Volunteers that choose to buy all of their stuff by themselves and cook every meal for themselves, but not me. I only very rarely go to a street-side restaurant and order some food from them. My favorite meals here are nasi pecel and gado-gado. Nasi pecel is rice, with vegetables, fried tofu, fried tempe (fermented soy beans), a fried egg, and doused in peanut sauce. Gado-gado is also known locally as “Javanese salad”. It’s a bunch of chopped leafy vegetables, a hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, cucumbers, all covered in peanut sauce. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I really like peanut sauce!

      7. Do families sit around the table and eat together like we do? (Jonathan M.)

      Not usually. There’s usually a small table in the kitchen, but it’s not for sitting around. It’s more for putting food once it’s cooked. You grab the food off of the table and then find a place to sit (usually on a couch or on the floor in the living room). Some families try to eat together at the same time, but hardly ever while sitting around a dining room table.

  16. Visiting Questions

    1. Would the host be disgusted and not want the visitor back again if they started eating before the host does? Or is it not that big of a deal? (Matthew M.)

    2. How often do family and friends visit each other? (Matthew M.)

    3. Why does receiving visits bring honor to the host/hostess? (Amelia T.)

    4. What would be the repercussions of refusing a guest who wishes to visit their home? (Amelia T.)

    5. Have you received only surprise visits from guests so far? (Nick G.)

    6. What is the most recognizable differences between visiting in the U.S. and Indonesia? (Nick G.)

    7. Will people judge themselves based on how often people visit them? (Eli H.)

    8. Is it publicly frowned upon to break the courtesies of house visits? (Eli H.)

    9. Do you have to act like a traditional guest while living with your host family? (Haley D.)

    10. Are all meals very formal or is it impolite to eat by yourself? (Haley D.)

    • 1. Would the host be disgusted and not want the visitor back again if they started eating before the host does? Or is it not that big of a deal? (Matthew M.)

      Hosts actually prefer if the guest eats before them. In fact, it’s considered rude if the host begins to eat before the guest does, because this shows that he does not think that the guest is important. If the guest isn’t very hungry, then it’s always polite to eat a couple of bites to let the host know that it’s okay if they’ve eating. You do this by saying “monggo!” (go ahead!).

      2. How often do family and friends visit each other? (Matthew M.)

      Every day! Depending on how far they live from each other. My family has a lot of extended family living in other parts of the village, along with many friends, so it’s a rare day that someone doesn’t come by and visits. Also, you never know when they’ll come by either. There’s no “rule” that you have to call someone before coming over to their house. I actually really like just popping into people’s houses randomly. It’s fun and it leads to a lot of interesting adventures.

      3. Why does receiving visits bring honor to the host/hostess? (Amelia T.)

      I think “bringing honor” is too strong of a term, but people definitely like it when others come and visit them. It shows that the guest is thinking of the person that they visit and that they like talking to that person. It’s almost like getting a phone call from one of your really good friends.

      4. What would be the repercussions of refusing a guest who wishes to visit their home? (Amelia T.)

      If you refuse a guest from entering your home, you’re essentially telling them that you don’t like them and that you don’t want to ever see them again. It’s a VERY seriously violation of the social code of conduct here. If you refuse someone from entering your home, especially if they’re well-known, you might get some rumors spread around the village about how inhospitable you are to guests, and that’s a very bad thing! If you don’t like someone, you still invite them in and give them some tea/coffee, and then try to get them to leave through indirect methods such as being really short with them and telling them that you have to go somewhere to run some errands.

      5. Have you received only surprise visits from guests so far? (Nick G.)

      No. I would say it’s about 50% surprise and 50% planned. When I first got there, a lot of my visits were unplanned, simply because that’s just how Indonesian culture is. But, now that a lot of people know me and know that I prefer to be warned before them coming over, they tend to text me before. Sometimes they pop in unexpectedly, but it’s honestly not a big deal if they do.

      6. What is the most recognizable differences between visiting in the U.S. and Indonesia? (Nick G.)

      I think the biggest thing is just how everything looks. Wherever you go in Indonesia, it’s uniquely Indonesia. There are not a lot of places that you can go in Indonesia and say, “Hey! This looks a lot like America!” As you’re driving down the road, you have motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic. At first, you’re worried about them crashing, especially since a majority of them don’t wear helmets, but you eventually get used to that. Then there’s the fact that banana and papaya trees are EVERYWHERE here. I almost consider banana trees as weeds, simply because they literally pop up over night and grow to be humongous. I think the biggest difference when you first get here is the fact that people drive on the left side of the road. Initially, this was pretty weird and took some time getting used to, but now it’s almost second nature. There’s a lot of differences between the U.S. and Indonesia, but those are the main ones that pop into my mind at this time.

      7. Will people judge themselves based on how often people visit them? (Eli H.)

      No, I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of an Indonesian judge themselves or others based simply on how many people come and visit them. If someone is feeling down and out about people coming to visit them, then they would probably take the initiative to go and visit other people.

      8. Is it publicly frowned upon to break the courtesies of house visits? (Eli H.)

      Yes, just like it is in the U.S. If you are a guest in the U.S., you try to follow as many house rules as you can. You take off your shoes at the door, say “please” and “thank you”, etc. It’s the same thing in Indonesia. If an Indonesian isn’t courteous when visiting other Indonesians, then it is definitely frowned down upon. It’s different for foreigners like me. Even though I have been here for 1.5+ years, people still don’t expect me to act totally like an Indonesian. Even though this expectation is low, I still try to act as Indonesian as possible when it comes to respecting someone’s house. If you blatantly break someone’s house rules, Indonesians are known to be notorious gossipers sometimes and that wouldn’t be very good if word got out that you are just another rude American.

      9. Do you have to act like a traditional guest while living with your host family? (Haley D.)

      It definitely helps to. If you act like an American living in Indonesia for 2 years, it’s going to be rough for both you and the Indonesians that you interact with. Indonesians are very accepting of cultural differences, but everyone does have their breaking point. Imagine if a foreign exchange student came to your school for two years and they didn’t adopt any American practices. If they were constantly breaking social norms at school, they wouldn’t have many friends at the end of the two years. I would say that a majority of what I do goes more or less in line with Indonesian customs. The biggest thing that I do that isn’t Indonesian is how much alone time I give to myself. Like I said earlier, Indonesians usually equate being alone with sadness. But my family and the teachers at my school know that sometimes I like to be left alone, and that it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m sad.

      10. Are all meals very formal or is it impolite to eat by yourself? (Haley D.)

      I would say that 98% of my meals are very informal. My host mom cooks something, leaves it on the table, and I grab a plate and grab some food from the table. I always eat alone when I’m at home. I can only remember eating with other family members about 5 times in the 1.5 years that I’ve been here. That’s just the Indonesian way of telling me that I’m special and they want me to feel comfortable. The only times that I would consider a meal formal is when I visit other schools to give a talk and I have lunch with the principal of that school. Generally, when you have a meal at school or at a large meeting, it is impolite to eat by yourself. But if it’s at home, it’s perfectly normal to eat by yourself.

  17. Gestures Questions

    1. When beckoning to someone of older age or status, what do you do if you want to get their attention but they are out of hearing range? (Isaac G.)

    2. Is it o.k. to move your legs or feet constantly while sitting or must you sit still? (Isaac G.)

    3. Why is it wrong to touch a higher or older person’s head? (Sydney J.)

    4. Why are there so many things that people can’t do there that we can do in the U.S.? (Sydney J.)

    5. How long did it take you to get used to the gestures? (Clara M.)

    6. Do the gestures come naturally to you now? When you come back home do you think you will continue to use the gestures? (Clara M.)

    • *Please note that my answers only reflect my own experiences living with and interacting with a group of Javanese people in a small village on the island of Java. Indonesia is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to accurately portray all of the nuances of all of the cultures of Indonesia in such a short amount of space. If I had lived on a different island, or with a different ethnic group, there is no doubt that my answers would be very different than what they are now. So, please be aware that my answers do not apply to all Indonesians.

      1. When beckoning to someone of older age or status, what do you do if you want to get their attention but they are out of hearing range? (Isaac G.)

      Good question! I honestly think Indonesians would do pretty much the same thing as what Americans would do: wait until they see the person again or just call them on their cell phone (99.9% of kids have cell phones here, and while adults also have cell phones, it is slightly less common). Of course, if it was really important, you could always hop on your or a friend’s motorcycle and chase them down, or just simply run towards them.

      2. Is it o.k. to move your legs or feet constantly while sitting or must you sit still? (Isaac G.)

      It is best to try and be still as much as possible, but Indonesians know that can be hard for an extended stretch of time. If it is just a small group prayer meeting, almost everyone ends up untucking their legs and stretching them out or making themselves comfortable in other ways. If I was meeting with someone higher up, let’s say an elected official from the state, then I would not do this and try to sit as still as possible. It all depends on the situation. The main thing is that standing up and stretching is frowned upon, unless you need to go to the bathroom or some other situation like that.

      3. Why is it wrong to touch a higher or older person’s head? (Sydney J.)

      That’s actually a really good question. In training, we were told not to do this, and they never told us why, so I can’t give you a definite answer. I’ve heard that some people believe that that’s where a person’s “energy” is, and that’s why you don’t touch the top of their head, although I don’t think this belief is really common. I’ve heard that it’s for other unspecified religious beliefs. The most probably reason that I’ve come across is, that since people only touch children on the head, if you touch an older person on their head, you’re telling them that they are a child and that is disrespectful.

      4. Why are there so many things that people can’t do there that we can do in the U.S.? (Sydney J.)

      To keep it simple: that’s just the way things are. The culture of Indonesia tends to be more conservative than the culture of America, mainly because familial ties are stronger in Indonesian society and the notion of “saving face” also plays a big part in Indonesian culture. Of course, the conservative attitude of Indonesian society isn’t set in stone. The bigger cities, like Jakarta and Surabaya, tend to be more liberal than the smaller villages. To compare it to America: the conservative nature of a small town in the middle of Mississippi is vastly different than the liberal attitude of a big city such as New York or Los Angeles.

      5. How long did it take you to get used to the gestures? (Clara M.)

      Most of the gestures were really easy to get used to, as they’re not too different from American gestures. The one gesture that took me the longest to get used to is what we’ll call the “beckoning” gesture, for when you want to call someone over to you. In America, we would do it with palm up and essentially scoop our fingers towards you. But for most Indonesians, that’s really rude. Instead, Indonesians do it with their palm down and essentially wave their hand up and down at the wrist, keeping the rest of their arm still. Up until my second year in Indonesia, I had to consciously tell myself that they were calling me over, instead of me thinking that they were shooing me away.

      6. Do the gestures come naturally to you now? When you come back home do you think you will continue to use the gestures? (Clara M.)
      Yes, most of the gestures come naturally to me now. After using them so much, it’s hard to just “switch them off”, so to speak. It has even gotten to the point that when I’m around other Peace Corps Volunteers, we all use the Indonesian gestures without thinking about them. Despite this, I don’t think that I will keep it up when I’m back in America, simply because no one in America will understand them and I’ll be forced to switch back to using American gestures.

  18. Greetings Questions

    1. If I were to travel to the U.S., what types of greetings would I have to use or get used to? (Maggie J.)

    2. How would you greet an important figure? (Maggie J.)

    3. Was it odd to call others “sister”, “brother”, “mother”, or “father”? What helped to make it more natural? (Emma W.)

    4. The general concept of shaking hands still occurs in Indonesia, but the way it is done is different. How did you first learn about their greetings? (Emma W.)

    5. Are there gestures that are considered obscene or offensive? (Katie S.)

    6. Are there multiple people with the same name, making it hard to tell people apart? (Katie S.)

    7. If I were to meet an Indonesian or travel to Indonesia, how would I greet students my age and adults? (Ava P.)

    8. In Indonesia, is greeting someone a cultural must, or can some people choose not to greet people they meet? (Ava P.)

    9. Did you feel comfortable with the greetings in Indonesia when you first arrived? (Emily S.)

    10. Have you noticed yourself adjusting to the greetings? Do you find any of them unusual? Do you have a favorite? (Emily S.)

    • 1. If I were to travel to the U.S., what types of greetings would I have to use or get used to? (Maggie J.)

      Probably the most common greeting in my area is the basic Indonesian greeting of “Selamat pagi/siang/sore/malam” (Good morning/afternoon/evening/night), follow by an “apa kabar?” (What’s new?). This is the case is most situations, although it can also be too formal for when you’re just walking on the street or hanging out with people. Another common phrase is “mau ke mana?” (Where are you going?). This phrase may seem odd, but it’s the equivalent of “how are you?” in our culture; I really don’t care how you truly are (in most cases), it’s just something I say to start things off. One more: a common greeting amongst the older people in my village is the basic Arabic greeting of “assalamu’alaikum”, to which you would reply “wa’alaikum salaam” (I don’t know if I spelled that right, but that’s close enough). If you respond to this correctly to an Indonesian Muslim, they’ll love you instantly! About 99% of the people in my area are Muslim, so that’s why this greeting is so important.

      2. How would you greet an important figure? (Maggie J.)

      Pretty much the same way in American culture: say “Mr./Mrs./Ms.” And then the title of the person. For more everyday situations, like addressing a teacher, the student simply says “Mr./Mrs./Ms.”.

      3. Was it odd to call others “sister”, “brother”, “mother”, or “father”? What helped to make it more natural? (Emma W.)

      You would think that it would be, but it honestly isn’t. It’s just something that you accept as part of the culture and just roll with it. You use the words so much, that you don’t ever think about what they translate to. It’s almost as if they become part of the person’s name, if that makes any sense at all. After a while, it becomes part of everyday conversation.

      4. The general concept of shaking hands still occurs in Indonesia, but the way it is done is different. How did you first learn about their greetings? (Emma W.)

      I first learned the greetings almost immediately when I arrived in Indonesia, just because they are so important. When greeting a person of the same sex, it’s not that awkward, because it’s always the same with men. It can get awkward when you’re greeting women, though. There are three options for men greeting women: just a regular handshake (like you do with other men), a shake where you put your hands together, and then interlock them with the other person’s hands, and then no shake at all. Some married women in Indonesia (mainly married Muslim women) will not touch another man other than they’re husband, even if it’s just to shake hands. In that case, you put your hands palm-to-palm at your chest and make a very slight bow as an acknowledgement. For me, especially as a male foreigner, you never know which route a woman will take, so there’s always this awkward ½ second pause to see what type of shake the woman wants, and then you go for it. And if you make a cultural faux-pas, it’s not a big deal at all. People understand that you are a foreigner and that you probably don’t know any better.

      5. Are there gestures that are considered obscene or offensive? (Katie S.)

      I think the biggest gesture that people find offensive is trying to call someone over with you palm facing upwards, like how you would do it in America. Also, I know this isn’t a gesture, but if you want to insult/gross someone out, do things with just your left hand. You never ever ever do anything with just your left hand.

      6. Are there multiple people with the same name, making it hard to tell people apart? (Katie S.)

      By far, one of the biggest troubles I have in Indonesia is remembering people’s names. They just don’t stick, for some reason. I know the most random Indonesian words, but I can’t remember the names of all of my students, for some strange reason. There’s actually a lot less people with the same name than what some sources say. And nicknames here are very common, just like in America. If I have two “Siti’s” in the class, they both have a different nicknames that they like better than their actually name, and everyone just uses that name for them, instead of their real name.

      7. If I were to meet an Indonesian or travel to Indonesia, how would I greet students my age and adults? (Ava P.)

      For students your age, you would greet them the same way as in America. Say “apa kabar?” (How are you?), and then follow it with “namanya siapa?” (What’s your name?). Once you know their name, you can just use that. There are no formalities you need to follow if it is peer-to-peer communication. For adults, it’s more polite, but still pretty relaxed. Once you know their name, you would use “ibu” (Mrs./Ms.) or “bapak” (Mr.) in front of their names.

      8. In Indonesia, is greeting someone a cultural must, or can some people choose not to greet people they meet? (Ava P.)

      Greeting someone is mostly mandatory. Every day, when I walk into school, I shake hands with all the teachers. I also shake hands with all the teachers when I leave school. It’s just the polite thing to do. When you go to someone’s house, you shake hands with everyone there. Alternatively, when someone comes and visits you, you have to shake hands with them. If you don’t greet someone, it is seen as really rude and is a big indicator that you don’t like the person and that they aren’t welcome.

      9. Did you feel comfortable with the greetings in Indonesia when you first arrived? (Emily S.)

      When I first arrived? Not entirely. But I quickly got used to them. Sometimes it’s a hassle to make sure you shake everyone’s hands every single time you go somewhere, especially when there are a lot of people there. But you quickly get comfortable with it and recognize that making sure you greet everyone is an important part of the culture, especially since you are a foreigner.

      10. Have you noticed yourself adjusting to the greetings? Do you find any of them unusual? Do you have a favorite? (Emily S.)

      I think that I quickly adjusted to using the customary greetings. If you do something several times a day, then you find yourself doing it almost subconsciously. I don’t find any of them unusual now, but I think the one that I had trouble with is shaking hands with women, simply because sometimes you don’t know which way they prefer and you don’t want to insult them or make them feel uncomfortable. My favorite greeting would probably be the most common one: shaking hands with someone and then touching your heart. I really like this one because it shows that you care deeply about the person and that you keep them in your heart (at least that’s my interpretation of it).

  19. Personal Appearance Questions

    1. Do kids in school wear clothes like U.S. kids do? (Chad B.)

    2. Do clothes get in the way of people while at work? (Chad B.)

    3. Because bathing is very regular in the culture, do typical families have showers or baths in their houses? (Rose W.)

    4. When wearing Western style clothing in the day, does it also happen to be very modest or not? (Rose W.)

    5. Why do people dress up for relaxation and visiting? (Tatiana T.)

    6. Why do they wear the same traditional clothing as relaxing and visiting for religious and wedding celebrations? (Tatiana T.)

    7. What do the traditional clothes look like? (Sofie S.)

    8. What are some major fashion trends of teens in Indonesia? (Sofie S.)

    9. Is the clothing they wear on special occasions hard to get used to? Do you wear them? (Payton F.)

    10. Do they wear the same clothes most days as people do in the U.S.? (Payton F.)

    • 1. Do kids in school wear clothes like U.S. kids do? (Chad B.)

      Kind of. Every kid in school is required to wear them same uniform most days all across the country. This goes for both private schools and public schools. Maybe 1-2 times a week, students will wear a traditionally-patterned shirt that is specific to that school or area, but that is really the only time that students in Indonesia differ from each other. Clothes and appearances are very important to Indonesians, no matter where they are. Even little preschoolers wear uniforms, although the precise uniforms for preschoolers depend on the individual preschool. Uniforms are simply a shirt, shorts/pants, white socks, black shoes, and a tie for boys and girls. Muslim girls also typically wear a hijab/jilbab too, although the only time that this is mandatory is at Islamic schools. Girls enrolled at public/private schools that are not Islamic-affiliated aren’t forced to wear one.

      2. Do clothes get in the way of people while at work? (Chad B.)

      No. People tend to wear clothes in the same fashion as Americans. If you work in a motorcycle dealership, you’re expected to dress nicely. If you work at the convenience store, then you have a uniform that you have to wear. If you work at the market, then you wear comfortable clothes. If you work in the field, it isn’t unusual to see men with their shirts off, but they usually have them on to protect them from the sun. Women working in the field keep themselves entirely clothed with only their hands and faces exposed. They do this mainly because of the intense sun, and because they don’t want to get tanned (having the whitest skin possible is seen as being beautiful here, which is why people tend to cover up if they’re in the sun). Some people working in the fields wear hats, too.

      3. Because bathing is very regular in the culture, do typical families have showers or baths in their houses? (Rose W.)

      Only very few people have showers in their houses. Those that do are typically richer and have newer houses. The most common bathing room simply has a basin full of water along with a plastic bucket. My basin is very big, about 6 feet long, 4 feet high, and 1.5 feet wide. What you do is simply dip the plastic “scooper” into the basin of water and them dump the water on you. Bucket bath! It’s actually fun sometimes! Also, most bathrooms are located right next to the kitchen in my area of Java, for some strange reason, so if your host mom is cooking in the kitchen while you are bathing, and she doesn’t hear you splashing enough water on you, she’ll ask you why you aren’t clean as soon as you step out of the bathroom. So if you go to Indonesia, feel free to splash a lot of water around!

      4. When wearing Western style clothing in the day, does it also happen to be very modest or not? (Rose W.)

      It’s always good to err on the modest side of clothing in Indonesia. For men, a simple t-shirt and pants are fine for just hanging around the house and going out and meeting with friends. Shorts are NEVER allowed to be worn outside of the house, for both men and women. For women, it all depends on the family and the community. Some female Peace Corps Volunteers are allowed to wear tank tops and skirts that go to their knees in their houses and around their communities, while others are told to not wear anything that doesn’t go above the elbow or above the knees. It just depends on the area. The main rule for women wearing western clothing in Indonesia is nothing tight or revealing.

      5. Why do people dress up for relaxation and visiting? (Tatiana T.)

      Wearing the traditional clothing is actually becoming less and less common for Indonesians. People only wear the traditional clothing (“batik”) for important meetings such as village meetings, prayer gatherings, going to wedding reception, going to a funeral, or for school. People in Indonesia wear “western” clothing a majority of the time when they are out and about. Only older people typically wear batik for a majority of the time that they are relaxing and visiting.

      6. Why do they wear the same traditional clothing as relaxing and visiting for religious and wedding celebrations? (Tatiana T.)

      As I touched upon in my previous answer, Indonesians really only wear their traditional clothing for special events, and not so much for relaxing and visiting. It could be possible that there’s a group of Indonesians that wear traditional clothing for relaxing, but that doesn’t happen too often where I live.

      7. What do the traditional clothes look like? (Sofie S.)

      It all depends on where you go. There are 33 states in Indonesia (much like how America has 50 states), and each state seems to have its own version of traditional clothing. So there is no “one” traditional clothing that all Indonesians have in common. The thing that probably comes close to that is batik. If you want to see what traditional clothes look like in Indonesia, I suggest that you do a quick Google search about it, as it’s too hard to put it into words.

      8. What are some major fashion trends of teens in Indonesia? (Sofie S.)

      Anything America is always popular among teens in Indonesia. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is related to America, you can bet that it would be popular. I know a band that is currently big among my students here in Indonesia is “Avenged Sevenfold”. One of my students asked me about them one day, and I couldn’t tell him anything about it. He even asked me what their lyrics meant, and I couldn’t tell him. Along with anything America, teens in Indonesia wear pretty much the same type of clothing that teens in America wear, as long as it isn’t too revealing. There are clothing shops here everywhere, and they all seem to sell “American-style” clothing.

      9. Is the clothing they wear on special occasions hard to get used to? Do you wear them? (Payton F.)

      I love the clothing that Indonesians wear for special occasions! There are many Volunteers that don’t, but I do. The expensive material and clothing tends to be easier to wear because they’re made of a special fabric that is really light and breathable. Of course, I don’t own too many of these types of shirts. The more cheaply made clothing that I wear for special occasions is just simply cotton shirts that are printed with “batik” style patterns. So it’s the same as wearing a regular shirt, except for it is a button down, short sleeve shirt that is a little bit thick.

      10. Do they wear the same clothes most days as people do in the U.S.? (Payton F.)

      Yes! In fact, if you look at everyday Indonesians just hanging out with their friends, you would be very surprised at how similar they dress compared to Americans. There are more “modern” clothing stores than the traditional clothing stores.

  20. General Attitudes Questions

    1. Did you have confusion when you first came there about the emotions your host family was trying to express? (Jack L.)

    2. Did you every think your host family was conveying anger when they weren’t due to the general loudness of voice the people in that culture use? (Jack L.)

    3. How would an Indonesian react to moving to the U.S.? (Anna K.)

    4. What is an example of an embarrassment to a person of Indonesian culture? (Anna K.)

    5. What is life like in Indonesia? Are there two separate societies like in North and South India where amounts of technologies are varied and amounts of education are varied? (Carolyn W.)

    6. How did urban and rural areas become so different in schooling the children? (Claire S.)

    7. Why don’t Indonesians values their time like people in the U.S.? (Claire S.)

    • 1. Did you have confusion when you first came there about the emotions your host family was trying to express? (Jack L.)

      Not too much. The only emotion that Indonesians express very differently from Americans is anger. Indonesians are infamous for being indirect about what they are angry about. If they are displeased about something, it’s rare that they will come right out and say it to you. They will instead drop little hints about it, hoping that you pick it up. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it isn’t. To Indonesians, being too direct is usually associated with rudeness. Also, sometimes Javanese people won’t tell you “no” directly to your face. They will instead say “yes”, but really unenthusiastically, and expect you to know that it means no. If it really is a “yes”, then they will be enthusiastic about it. It sounds complicated, but you honestly get used to it after a while.

      2. Did you ever think your host family was conveying anger when they weren’t due to the general loudness of voice the people in that culture use? (Jack L.)

      No. My family, like most Javanese, are very polite and are not known for being loud. In fact, I haven’t met an Indonesian who was too loud. There are a lot prejudices floating around Indonesia that are usually blown out of proportion. For example, my family and many other Javanese families think that the Madurese are very very loud and are always angry. But when I met some Madurese people, they acted just like my Javanese family. So sometimes people say that one people act a certain way, and you just have to remember that that doesn’t apply to everyone in that particular group and the only way to really know how a group acts is to spend time with them.

      3. How would an Indonesian react to moving to the U.S.? (Anna K.)

      That depends on where they are from. If they are from Jakarta, I don’t think they will have a lot of trouble, simply because Jakarta is very modern and has a lot of western influences swirling around the city. But, if someone from my family were to move to America, I think that they will have a hard time. Many Indonesians are very family oriented, and they don’t like to be away from their family for a long time unless they really need to be. Holidays are huge here, and I know many Indonesians become homesick if they miss them. There are certain parts of American culture that also would come at a total shock to Indonesians, such as the perceived unfriendliness of Americans. In Indonesia, it’s totally normal to walk to other people’s houses and hang out with them for hours on end without talking to them beforehand. I think Indonesians might have trouble adjusting to the American sense of personal time and space if they moved here. You can also imagine yourself moving to Indonesia: how would you feel if you didn’t know the language, culture, customs, or even anybody in the country. It would be very overwhelming at first, but eventually everyone adjusts to it in their own way.

      4. What is an example of an embarrassment to a person of Indonesian culture? (Anna K.)

      Indonesians are overly polite, so I think that one of the biggest embarrassments for Indonesians is when someone isn’t being polite (especially to an elder or someone of authority) or is being arrogant. It’s pretty unusual for Indonesians to stand out from the crowd. In the classroom, the biggest embarrassment for an Indonesian student is simply being called to the front of the class. Indonesian students are HORRIFIED of being called to the front of the class and getting a question wrong. I’ve tried for literally five minutes one time trying to get a student to come to the front of the class to answer a question, simply because they were just so afraid of getting the question wrong and having their friends think that they are stupid. As a foreigner who is an English teacher in Indonesia, you sometimes need to overlook small mistakes and instead use those opportunities to build up the student’s confidence so that they won’t be embarrassed if they end up making another mistake.

      5. What is life like in Indonesia? Are there two separate societies like in North and South India where amounts of technologies are varied and amounts of education are varied? (Carolyn W.)

      Life is awesome in Indonesia! As you probably know, Indonesia has over 350 ethnic groups, and most of these groups are very different from all the others. So you can travel a very short distance and live in a completely different way than any other Indonesian. In general, the island of Java, Northern Sumatra, and Bali tend to be the most developed in Indonesia and have the most “western” influences (especially the island of Bali), but they are still uniquely Indonesian. As you travel further away from the island of Java, Indonesia becomes a lot more rural. People in rural societies tend to be less formally educated, simply because their families tend to be poorer and they need to help their families with the farming instead of going to school. Of course, technology also becomes more scarce the further away from Java you get, although most people have a cell phone and have been influenced by western culture in some way. It’s impossible to apply a blanket statement to how all Indonesians live, and that diversity is what makes Indonesia such an awesome place to live in.

      6. How did urban and rural areas become so different in schooling the children? (Claire S.)

      The main reason for the differing attitudes is poverty. Those Indonesians that live in the city tend to be richer and not be farmers. Those Indonesians that live in rural areas tend to be poorer and most of them are farmers or miners. If you’re rich, then you have more money to spend on sending your children to a good school (public schools are only free until 9th grade), and your children don’t have to worry about working to help support the family. If you’re a child in a poor family, then you are forced to help out on the farm, with mining, or with whatever the family needs help in. If the children don’t help out, and instead go to school, then the family might not make enough money to feed everyone in the family. So, between going to school and feeding the family, the more rural families choose feeding the family. It also doesn’t help that the parents in rural families have only completed elementary school, so some of them might not realize the importance of getting a good education.

      7. Why don’t Indonesians values their time like people in the U.S.? (Claire S.)

      Indonesians do value their time, just in different ways than Americans. In America, we have the saying “time is money”. Indonesians also have a time-related saying. It’s “jam karet”, which literally means “rubber time”. Things simply move at a different pace in Indonesia. A village meeting could start 30 minutes late, just because it’s not too important. Some teachers go to class 5-10 minutes after the bell rings. When someone tells you they will do something “tomorrow”, that could literally mean “tomorrow”, but it can also mean “in a couple days”, “next week”, or “at some point in the future”. It’s frustrating going from the punctual society of America to the more laid back society of Indonesia, but you learn to just go with things and actually begin to enjoy the relaxed pace of things. Most Indonesians don’t seem to rush day-to-day things, and instead choose to focus on building relationships with others.

  21. Religion Questions

    1. With 80% of Indonesia being Muslim, did you find it difficult to stay in your religion? (Sam J.)

    2. What is the most commonly practiced religion in the region of Indonesia you are living in? (Sam J.)

    3. Is there any religious tension in the country? (Kevin T.)

    4. What are some native religions? (Kevin T.)

    5. Which area of Indonesia has the highest Muslim population? (Jack D.)

    6. What is the reason for the large number of Muslims in Indonesia? (Jack D.)

    7. Why do Muslims in Indonesia consider themselves moderately religious when 86% of the population in Indonesia is Muslim? (Adrianna C.)

    8. Does everyone fast during the holy month? When is the holy month? Why is there a holy month? (Adrianna C.)

    9. Where do people go for their 5 daily prayers? (Jon K.)

    10. Why do people go to Saudi Arabia for the hajj? (Jon K.)

    • 1. With 80% of Indonesia being Muslim, did you find it difficult to stay in your religion? (Sam J.)

      Not really. I’m honestly not that religious to begin with, so that helps a lot. In my area, the percentage of Muslims is actually closer to 98%-99%. Despite this, everyone is very very very accepting of the fact that I’m a Christian. I haven’t heard a single condescending thing about me being a Christian since I’ve come here, and I’ve even had people try to take me to a church. There are a couple of other Peace Corps Volunteers that live with Christian families, and many Volunteers go to church on Sundays and form close bonds with other Christians in the area.

      2. What is the most commonly practiced religion in the region of Indonesia you are living in? (Sam J.)

      Islam is the majority religion where I am living, by a long shot. In my village, the percentage is maybe 99%, but if you go to the big city that’s 12 miles away, it’s probably 85% Muslim, 13% Christian, and 2% Buddhist (very rough estimates). So, it all depends on where you live.

      3. Is there any religious tension in the country? (Kevin T.)

      There is, unfortunately. Perhaps the biggest religious tension in Indonesia right now comes from a political party who wants to implement “sharia” (strict Islamic law based on the Al-Quran) all over Indonesia. This political party has been making little gains in recent elections and some fear that Indonesia will become less religiously tolerant if they make any more gains. There has also been some fighting between Christians and Muslims in the past (nothing major since the 1990’s). These cities and areas are located in the Maluku Islands and in Central Sulawesi, which are the spots where there are large populations of both Christians and Muslims living together side-by-side. Thankfully, no major fighting has happened recently, but you always hear of flare ups of hate speech in these areas from time to time.

      4. What are some native religions? (Kevin T.)

      Well, I guess the most native religion would be animism, although that hasn’t been practiced by any major ethnic group (except maybe in West Papua) in centuries. Currently, there are 6 recognized religions: Islam, Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Every Indonesian is officially a member of one of these religions (because it’s illegal to not have a religion in Indonesia), but in reality almost everyone mixes their religion with native beliefs (some more than others). I’ve heard that the Bugis people in Southern Sulawesi are perhaps the people the mix Islam the most with their older animist roots.

      5. Which area of Indonesia has the highest Muslim population? (Jack D.)

      I would say Medan, in Northern Sumatra. Medan is part of a semi-autonomous state, which means that they have their own quasi-government and have unique laws that only pertain to that state. Medan is very conservative and have enacted some sharia laws within their borders. Medan is also at the heart of the fight to make Indonesia an official Islamic state, although I doubt that will ever happen, try as they might. There are many places that are almost all Muslim, such as where I’m living, but Medan is definitely the most conservative.

      6. What is the reason for the large number of Muslims in Indonesia? (Jack D.)

      Islam first came to Indonesia in the 16th century. In a lot of homes here (including mine), there is a picture of the “Wali Songgo” (“Nine Leaders” in Javanese). These nine people were the people mainly responsible for the spread of Islam in Indonesia. When they arrived in Indonesia, they slowly fought their way across the island of Java, pushing out the Hindus and Buddhists. Using the island of Java as their center of power, they slowly spread Islam to the other islands of Indonesia. Indonesia used to be part of the Spice Islands, which means that it was the center of trade in the region of the world. Because there was a lot of trading going on in between all of the islands, this allowed Islam to spread that much more, until most of Indonesia had converted to Islam. That being said, there are still islands and parts of islands where Islam is in the minority, such as the island of Bali (most Balinese are Hindus or Buddhists) and in North Sulawesi (Christians).

      7. Why do Muslims in Indonesia consider themselves moderately religious when 86% of the population in Indonesia is Muslim? (Adrianna C.)

      When people refer to Indonesians as being “moderate”, they are talking about the religious conservatism scale. For example, in America, we have liberals on the left, conservatives on the right, and then the people that are in the middle (neither liberal nor conservative) a.k.a. the moderates. It’s the same thing with Indonesians and Islam. The brand of Islam found in Saudi Arabia and certain other Middle Eastern countries would be considered as “conservatively” religious. The brand of Islam found in America would probably be considered as “liberally” religious. Indonesia falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes; in some aspects they are conservative, and in others they are liberal.

      8. Does everyone fast during the holy month? When is the holy month? Why is there a holy month? (Adrianna C.)

      Everyone that is able to fast during the holy month are required to fast. The main exceptions to fasting are little kids, pregnant women, women that have just given birth, the elderly, people traveling long distances, manual laborers, and sick people. Fasting isn’t supposed to be totally comfortable, but if it will cause you or someone else harm, than you are allowed to skip fasting. Some people will even “make up” days at the end of Ramadan (the month of fasting) for every day that they missed during the actual fasting month. Fasting occurs from sun up to sown down (anywhere between 4:00 AM and 5:30 PM in my part of Indonesia). Muslims fast because they believe that it brings them closer to God and it makes them more receptive to His message. Some people also say they do it to stand in solidarity with people or normally don’t have enough food to eat. People aren’t allowed to eat, drink water, smoke, swear, think angry thoughts, or do anything that brings pleasure while they are fasting. It is a time for reflection and growing stronger in your faith without distractions. The holy month (Ramadan) is the ninth month of the Islamic year. The Islamic year is based on the lunar calendar, which means that the month of Ramadan moves about 11 days forward each year. So, in 2014, Ramadan started on June 18th. In 2015, it will start on June 7th. Ramadan exists because that is when the Prophet Muhammed first received his revelations from God.

      9. Where do people go for their 5 daily prayers? (Jon K.)

      They have the option of going to the mosque, to a musholla, or simply praying in their houses. I would say that a majority of older people tend to go to the mosque or a musholla (whichever is closer), while younger people are almost 50/50 split on praying in their houses vs. going to a mosque/musholla to pray. It mainly depends on whether they have responsibilities to take care of in the house i.e. small children to look after, chores to complete, and also the weather factors into the decision. The difference between a mosque and a musholla is that mosques tend to be a lot bigger, have an imam (a sort of Islamic pastor), and are less common than mushollas. Mushollas are smaller (maybe only the size of a classroom), and do not have an imam. Essentially, mosques are the main centers of worship, and mushollas act as the smaller, community-centered places of worship. In my village, we have only 1 mosque, but maybe 10+ mushollas spread out pretty evenly amongst everyone.

      10. Why do people go to Saudi Arabia for the hajj? (Jon K.)

      People travel to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. Some of this info might not be 100 percent correct, but this is what I have gathered: the hajj ritual started around the year 2000 B.C. with Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham was instructed by God to leave his wife and son in the desert by themselves, and they ended up surviving and finding water. Because of this, God commanded Abraham to build the Kaaba on the very spot, and then he ordered Abraham to tell others to perform a pilgrimage to the Kaaba. The act of the Pilgrimage really took off with the Prophet Muhammed making the hajj in 632 AD. After that, the act of the hajj became deeply ingrained in Muslim tradition. There is a lot more information about the hajj online, especially when it comes to all the traditions that take place during the hajj, and I strongly encourage you to research it some more.

  22. Language Questions

    1. Did you learn the official national language, and if so, how long did it take you to learn it? (Hannah L.)

    2. How many languages do you know and how many of them are related to Indonesia? (Hannah L.)

    3. I know that English is the 3rd most spoken language, but out of 10 people, how many would you expect to use it? (Riley C.)

    4. Has your English language changed in Indonesia or has it stayed pure? (Riley C.)

    5. If they can’t read the Hindi script, how do they read signs? (Chloe Z.)

    6. Does every village have its own native tongue or language> (Chloe Z)

    7. Have you learned to speak Indonesian? (McKenzie B.)

    8. Do the people you are around know how to write in Indonesian? (McKenzie B.)

    • 1. Did you learn the official national language, and if so, how long did it take you to learn it? (Hannah L.)

      Yes, all Peace Corps Volunteers are required to learn the national language and be somewhat proficient at it. We had to take classes starting the day after we arrived in Indonesia. We roughly had 4 hours of classes for 6 days a week for 6 weeks, so a total of 144 hours of formal language instruction. Our class sizes were only 6 people, so it was a very intimate setting. In addition to this, we lived with an Indonesian family starting on our third day after arrival. Some families were able to speak English, but most couldn’t, including mine. So, in order to talk with your family, you have to really study hard. At this point in time, I would not say that I’m fluent, but I would consider myself “conversational”, meaning that I can’t understand absolutely everything, but I can communicate with native speakers about 97% of everyday interactions, as well as teach in Indonesian if necessary.

      2. How many languages do you know and how many of them are related to Indonesia? (Hannah L.)

      Well, I’m a native English speaker and I can speak Indonesian pretty well. I also know some Javanese, which is the local language. I can maybe understand a couple of sentences here and there, but I can’t have a conversation. As for more common languages, I know bits and pieces of Spanish, French, and German. I love learning foreign languages because it allows you to understand a lot more about the world, current events, and foreign cultures.

      3. I know that English is the 3rd most spoken language, but out of 10 people, how many would you expect to use it? (Riley C.)

      On an everyday basis, maybe none or just 1 person. The only people in my village who know English are school children, and even they are too shy to speak English with me or just simply forget everything that they know once they leave school. There isn’t a whole lot of people from my small village that see English as a useful skill to know, so they don’t try too hard. My school has about 960 students, and maybe 5-10 of those students are comfortable using English with me outside of the classroom. I speak the most English with the other English teachers at school and with other English educators at other schools and private programs. On days that I don’t go to school, I don’t speak any English with anybody, simply because there is no one that would be able to understand me.

      4. Has your English language changed in Indonesia or has it stayed pure? (Riley C.)

      Believe it or not, but my English has gotten a lot worse since I’ve come to Indonesia. It’s actually kind of crazy. There are some instances where I can’t think of the word that I want to say or I just make crazy grammatical mistakes. There are some Indonesians that are really good at English and I can talk with them how I would talk with other Americans, complete with slang, but most of the times you have to simplify what you say if you want other people to understand you. You can’t say any slang words and you sometimes have to rearrange words in a sentence so that they match the syntax of Indonesian. After talking in simplified English for so long, in almost feels weird to speak in normal English.

      5. If they can’t read the Hindi script, how do they read signs? (Chloe Z.)

      The Hindi-style script only pertains to Javanese. 95% of the signs you see everyday are written in Indonesian. A lot of the signs are written in Indonesian so that all Indonesians are able to read them. If you write signs in Javanese, only Javanese are able to read them. Even with the 5% of signs written in Javanese, most of them use the Latin alphabet (the same alphabet that English uses). The small percentage of signs that are written in Javanese using the Hindi-style script are done so that they seem more “fancy” or “old-timey” than other signs. There are also two big cities in Central Java that are considered the centers of Javanese culture, and there are a lot of signs in those cities that use the Hindi-style script. Sadly, a majority of Javanese outside of these cities tend to not be able to read the Hindi-style script. Students study how to read and write it for a couple of years in school, but they forget it quickly simply because you never see it outside of textbooks in school.

      6. Does every village have its own native tongue or language? (Chloe Z)

      No. In most cases, each different ethnic group will speak a different language than another ethnic group. So, the Javanese language is different from the Madurese language, which is different from the Balinese language, and so on. On the island of Java, there are three main ethnic groups, thus three main languages: Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese. Javanese and Sundanese are closely related, but Madurese is completely different from the other two. Sometimes languages are closely related in Indonesia, but most of the time they are not. The Indonesian government created the Indonesian language in 1945 when they gained independence from the Dutch as a way to unite everyone in the country. It’s hard to run a country without have a single official language. Fun fact: The Indonesian government created the Indonesian language from Malaysian. Malay was widely spoken across the country at that time, and so the Indonesian government just adapted it. So, Malaysians and Indonesians can understand and talk to each other almost without trouble, except for a few words here and there, much like the British and Americans talking to each other.

      7. Have you learned to speak Indonesian? (McKenzie B.)

      Yes. Please see Answer #1 for a more complete answer.

      8. Do the people you are around know how to write in Indonesian? (McKenzie B.)

      Yes. My village maybe has a 98% literacy rate, and that’s pretty common on the island of Java. For day-to-day letters, people tend to mix Javanese and Indonesian together. It’s very common to just combine the two languages, even in the same sentence. But you only do this in informal settings. Indonesian is the language of instruction in schools. All the homework is done in Indonesian and all the textbooks are written in Indonesian. Teachers are supposed to speak only in Indonesian in classrooms, but that rarely happens. Most teachers mix Indonesians and Javanese, just like in everyday situations. The only time that students are allowed to write in Javanese in school, or read Javanese in school, is in Javanese class. Outside of school, most formal letters, especially if they concern the government in any way, are written in Indonesian.

  23. Population Questions

    1. Does it ever become confusing because of the language differences? (Hannah B.)

    2. How populated is the place you live in? (Hannah B.)

    3. Of all the ethnic groups that you’ve experienced in Indonesia, which one that you’ve experienced is the most unique or different from U.S. culture? (Joe S.)

    4. How has the rising population influenced life in Indonesia? (Joe S.)

    5. Having the world’s 4th largest population, can you notice a difference in population between the U.S. and Indonesia? (Fred L.)

    6. Are all of the different cultures very evident with so many people? (Fred L.)

    7. When did Indonesia start the process of urbanization? (Emma E.)

    8. Why is Java the most densely populated island? (Emma E.)

    • 1. Does it ever become confusing because of the language differences? (Hannah B.)

      Sometimes, especially when I first arrived in Indonesia. Even now, there are times when I need something and I can’t properly tell my family what exactly I need. You also have to worry about making sure you fully understand a new word’s connotation before using it. I have been in some situations where I thought I was saying something, and it turns out that I was really saying something else that was much worse. It is also common for someone to tell you one thing, where they mean a completely different thing.

      2. How populated is the place you live in? (Hannah B.)

      Not too populated. I live in a more rural area, but still close enough to a big city. I would say that there is probably 3 times more space allotted to fields than to houses, just because my village is composed of a majority of farmers. My village has about 2,500 adults living in it, but that number is kind of misleading. Even though my village isn’t that big, there are still a lot of villages surrounding it that are about the same size, or maybe even bigger. In Indonesia, each village doesn’t get too big, but villages still tend to clump together. So even if a lot of people don’t live in your village, there are still plenty of people all around you.

      3. Of all the ethnic groups that you’ve experienced in Indonesia, which one that you’ve experienced is the most unique or different from U.S. culture? (Joe S.)

      The only one that I have extensive experience with is the Javanese. I’ve been to a lot of different places all around Indonesia, but I haven’t spent more than a night or two chatting with them. In my experience, the main difference between all the ethnic groups that I’ve experienced is language. All of them are super nice, super friendly, and just want to make you happy. I have had problems with rude Indonesians, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a group of people where everyone is a genuinely nice person. If I had to pick one group of people that I’ve interacted with that would be most unlike Americans, it would probably be the Manadonese, who live in Manado in North Sulawesi. Manado is a very big city, so it’s actually an combination of people from the area. The thing that makes them so different is that they’re famous for eating dog and bats. I went to a roadside restaurant my one night there, and had the option to try dog, but instead opted for the pork, because I missed pork so much.

      4. How has the rising population influenced life in Indonesia? (Joe S.)

      The most tangible influence from the population increase has been on the environment. There is a lot of pressure on the Indonesian government to decrease the amount of impact that the growing economy has on the environment. The two biggest places that are in trouble are the jungles of Kalimantan (Borneo) and Papua New Guinea. Both of these areas are suffering from massive deforestation because of illegal logging and the mining industry. This is drastically affecting the native wildlife in the regions, most notable the orangutan in the forests of Borneo. In terms of people, the government actually implemented a program called “transmigration”, where they sent people from the island of Java (and, to a lesser extent, Bali and Madura) to live in the less populated areas of Indonesia. This program started in the early 1900’s under Dutch rule, and peaked in between 1979 and 1984. Because of this program, you can find little groups of Javanese throughout the entire country, and not just on the island of Java.

      5. Having the world’s 4th largest population, can you notice a difference in population between the U.S. and Indonesia? (Fred L.)

      Honestly, not really. The thing that makes Indonesia seem a lot less crowded is that the population is more spread out than in America. Indonesia doesn’t have too many suburbs and not too many traffic jams (except in Jakarta, which is notorious for traffic jams). The major traffic delays come from impromptu road work and when the police close down a major road so that someone can have a wedding or a parade (which happens more often than you’ll think). In America, you can really feel crowded wherever you go and you are constantly reminded that America has a lot of people. It just isn’t that way in Indonesia. Hope that makes sense.

      6. Are all of the different cultures very evident with so many people? (Fred L.)

      Yes and no. They aren’t all that evident on a daily basis, but every once in a while you realize how many different cultures there are in Indoesia. Probably the most common reminder is when there is a national holiday for a specific religion. Christmas is a national holiday. Nyepi (Hindu day of silence) is a national holiday. Waisak (celebrating Buddha) is a national holiday. And then there are a plethora of Islamic holidays. The students get all of these off, and when they roll around, you realize how diverse Indonesia is. There are also specific cultural events that happen every year that the Javanese don’t celebrate. The biggest one that you hear about where I live would be the bull racing that the Madurese do. They do it practically all year, but in October, they have a big tournament in the main city on the island of Madura. Lots of Madurese, and non-Madurese, go to it to enjoy some good ol’ bull racing.

      7. When did Indonesia start the process of urbanization? (Emma E.)

      To be honest, I really don’t know. My best guess would be to say when the Dutch came and made Indonesia into a big trading hub. The Dutch were the ones who ramped up the industrialization of Indonesia. They established Jakarta and made it into the megapolis that it is today. I wish I could comment some more about this topic, but I just can’t. Sorry!

      8. Why is Java the most densely populated island? (Emma E.)

      I used to think that Java was the most densely populated island too, until I checked it out on Wikipedia! It’s actually the 77th most densely populated island, but the 1st most populated island, with 130 million people living on it. I think the main reason for their being so many people living on Java is just the culture of the Javanese and the other groups that share the island. Javanese people don’t like to go too far away from their family. Most of the families that you meet in my village either grew up in the village or they’re from a neighboring village that isn’t too far away. There’s a pressure on people to stay close to their family so that they can take care of them. Although, you can see this pressure becoming less and less of an influence as time goes on. Younger kids are moving away more to farther places, especially the big cities, in order to attend university or try and find a better job than one they would have in the village. But, no matter where an Indonesian Muslim goes, they always make sure to go home for the big celebration after Ramadan is done. Another reason why Java is the most populated island is because it has 5 big cities: Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Solo, and Bandung. All of these cities are huge and are very famous in Indonesia.

  24. Hi! My name is Steven Sola and I am the Peace Corps Volunteer that will be communicating with you about the Peace Corps and Indonesia throughout your time in this class. I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated with a degree in Sociology from Arkansas Tech University in 2012. I found out about the Peace Corps from my friend who served in Togo, and after researching more about it, decided to apply for it on my 21st birthday. After graduating, I moved back home and worked as a secretary for a company that helped developmentally disabled people and their families. I departed for Indonesia in April 2013, and have been living the life ever since then. My primary job is teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to 10th and 11th graders at a vocational high school. Along with this, I regularly give talks about American culture to other local schools. I live with a huge host family (20 members spread among 5 houses! and numerous neighbors that are always coming over to visit!). There is always someone to talk to and little kids to play with! After the Peace Corps, I hope to study International Health in grad school and have a career in expanding health resources and opportunities to rural areas that need them the most. There is a lot that I didn’t touch on, both about me and about my experiences in Indonesia, so if you have any questions at all, please ask!

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