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“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”

~Barbara Bush

 

We’ve just said goodbye to our families here in Toraja. They welcomed us with open arms, as have all of the families we’ve lived with inIndonesia. We moved into their homes and they moved into our hearts.

In August we found an unfamiliar home in Yogjakarta. We were led into a house by people who, for the most part, we couldn’t understand. We were faced with a barrage of questions. Do you want to eat? Have you bathed? Do you want to eat or bathe first? What is your religion? Isn’t everyone in America happy? Is it cold in America? Do you live like the people in ‘American Pie?’ The city may have looked pretty similar to our own back home, but the family was overwhelmingly different.However, over the course of the next month we began, gradually, to feel at home. The families no longer felt so unfamiliar.

From Yogja we got uprooted again and the world was spun on its head. There were no cars, our houses had dirt floors, and we were faced with freshly unfamiliar family. The people of Masihulan showed us their gardens in the jungle. They taught us to sing and we ran around the town with our new brothers and sisters. By then we could talk to our families, we could ask them if they had eaten, if they had bathed, what their religion was. We were beginning to find our own window into their lives by actually conversing. We not only stayed with them, we spoke with them as family.

We said a heartfelt goodbye to our families in the jungle and moved out to sea. Life in the Bajau community in Sampela was certainly the furthest from home we’d been yet. You could see the ocean through your floor boards and fish hung next to the front door. Our Bajau families were shy and, even with the language barrier coming down, it was a struggle to talk to them. But going out in fishing boats with our bapaks, sitting on the porch cleaning clothes with our mamas and gathering sea beasties from the sand bar with them more than bridged the gap. We didn’t necessarily need to talk to them to connect. We could live with our families and work with them too.

We waved farewell to our Bajau families from a boat and made our way to Toraja. Stepping off the boat we were instantly confronted with a new paradigm. The Torajan relationship to death could not be more dissimilar to how we view it in the States. Dead family members continue to occupy a place in the house, as some of us discovered first hand. Our new families laughed and joked when we talked of the dead and of funerals. When we attended the ‘pesta orang mati’ we were so wrapped up in colors, laughter, music and merriment that t was easy to forget we were at a funeral. Talking with our families wasn’t the challenge, it was understanding what they meant and how they could think how they did. Despite those struggles and that confusion it was impossible not to feel the warm-heartedness in the community. So, while we couldn’t really grasp why our families were so joyful at a funeral we could celebrate with them.

Now we are staring the end of our trip in the face. We have finished our last home stay, left our last family. We will return to you all in a very short time. We may struggle to tell you about our other mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. You will undoubtedly meet a new person at the airport, one who has come from many different families. But you are our families in the deepest and truest sense of the word. We will wrap you in our arms, be there and share all that we have with you.

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012, Homestay

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The Meaning of Family

Cassidy (Jones) Schultz,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012, Homestay

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“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” ~Barbara Bush   We’ve just said goodbye to our families here in Toraja. They welcomed us with open arms, as have all of the families we’ve lived with inIndonesia. We moved into their homes and they moved into our hearts. In August […]

Posted On

11/27/12

Author

Cassidy (Jones) Schultz

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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More Sampela and Toraja photos

Instructors,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Posted On

11/22/12

Author

Instructors

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Sampela Photos

Instructors,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Posted On

11/22/12

Author

Instructors

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Dear Friends and Family,

On this Thanksgiving Day, from around the world to wherever you are, we are sending you gratitude. Unlike in the States, we have no barrage of holiday cues to remind us of the approaching season. In fact, there is no season to speak of here as the weather remains consistently sweaty and the colors stay in vivid shades of lushness. There are no external prompts that tis the season of gratitude and giving.

What we do have is a flourishing group culture of sharing and support. We speak of our joys and sorrows, our questions and comments, our criticisms and accolades, all with openness only found intentionally. In this group container, we have floated (literally) through the diversity of Indonesia. At every stop, communities injected their own cultures of gratitude and giving. A seated leader of an Islamic school sharing his belief in “transcendental optimism” (there is no obstacle God would present that we cannot transcend) who then stands on legs crippled from polio to say goodbye. Our homestay families hiking an hour to bid us farewell and some even taking an entire day, even more in wages, to travel to our departure point in Seram. A village of sea nomads sending us from their docks with a rainbow that captured the magic of that floating world. Elaborate funeral sacrifices that remind us that death is part of life and life is meant to be celebrated.

Everywhere we go it feels like we take more than we could ever give in return. There is no way to quantify the emotional value of the experience Indonesia has gifted us. Indonesia has been that great guru who teaches that gratitude is meant to be expressed freely and sincerely with others. The season of gratitude and giving requires no external cues here; it is present all around us. Thank you for the role you played in bringing us here, in shaping how we experience Indonesia and each other. We hope that you can feel our appreciation on this day of Thanksgiving and beyond.

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Seasons of Gratitude

Aaron Slosberg,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Dear Friends and Family, On this Thanksgiving Day, from around the world to wherever you are, we are sending you gratitude. Unlike in the States, we have no barrage of holiday cues to remind us of the approaching season. In fact, there is no season to speak of here as the weather remains consistently sweaty […]

Posted On

11/22/12

Author

Aaron Slosberg

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Picture this. You're sitting on a raised bamboo platform adjacent to one of the many boardwalks running through the Bajou village. Some children are happily playing in the water of the canal below you. Not far from where they splash, fecies are floating along. Two woman to your right are sitting on a porch with lips full of so much tobacco it hangs out their mouths - and they look about ninety years old. Across the boardwalk in the house facing you, teenagers are lathering yellow face paste on each other, to beat the heat. A man is crafting a beautiful ring from turtle shell to your left. He captured it yesterday over a protected reef. Everyone is waiting for the circumcision patients to walk down the boardwalk. They are boys and girls, roughly twelve and seven years old respectively, and as they strut down the runway in bright ceremonial attire, their families follow close behind, either dancing or holding umbrellas to shade the models from the sun. You think you've observed swagger before? These kids are about to enter adulthood, you ain't seen nothin'. As you watch, the monkey on your bamboo platform snacks on mangos a few kids are feeding her. The plastic bag that contained the fruit is tossed into the water. "Tidak apa apa" they laugh. No worries.

Now look up from your Mac or PC or smart phone. Woah, huh. Different. This was one of many memories in Sampela I'll never forget. The sights and sounds and smells were so unique or weird or even occasionally scornful, but they all made Sampela a beautiful, magical place and it's going to be a long time before I forget it.

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Picture this…

Pete Foster,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Picture this. You’re sitting on a raised bamboo platform adjacent to one of the many boardwalks running through the Bajou village. Some children are happily playing in the water of the canal below you. Not far from where they splash, fecies are floating along. Two woman to your right are sitting on a porch with […]

Posted On

11/19/12

Author

Pete Foster

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“...the sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. How important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head..." -Primo Levi

The Bajo are a majorly self-sufficient people; although they live with less money than what some of the homeless people I see in Boston receive, they are masters of fishing and can literally read the open ocean like a map. They live in houses on stilts above the water or coral platforms, although they have no address or mailbox. Their wisdom and traditions are ancient, although very few people know their actual age or when their birthday is.

The effects of spending 9 days in Sampela are physically visible on my body. My hair is bleached and my skin dark, both gifts from the sea and the relentless sun that the Bajo and I now share. On my wrist, I'm wearing a bracelet made from the shell of a turtle, which was a parting gift from my host family. I have scrapes on my left foot from accidently colliding with the coral as we snorkeled through the surrounding reefs. I have residual rope burn on my index finger from helping to pull a boat out into open water.

However, the implications of these changes are much deeper than what is first visible. Blonde hair and dark skin simply serve as another reason for land people (orang darat) to discrimniate and differentiate themselves from sea people (orang laut), giving the Bajo more reason to feel ostricized and exempt from society. In order to make the bracelet, turtles must be illegally hunted for they are currently in jeopardy of extinction- although the same police that enforce this enjoy access to free bracelets whenever they ask. Snorkeling around Sampela took my breath away (literally...I swallowed a ton of saltwater) but I know it is a temporary beauty partially due to fishing in restricted areas and removing coral to build platforms. The cut on my finger was from an activity where the Bajo's resourcefullness shone through- whenever a boat would break down, kids as young as ten would be on it before I even realized what was happening. There was no manual, no "how-to" youtube videos to follow. They built these boats, they know how to fix them...and if they don't, they figure it out without a word of complaint or cursing the good people of Honda.
The concept of living in Sampela at all still astounds me- living in a house among a community of sea nomads sounds like a bit of a contradiction. Most of the houses are built to last just five years, and if you ask anyone in the village what their plans for the year are, many will tell you they might up and take their boat to explore Malaysia, Australia, or the Philipines. The feeling of community was different than any I have ever known- I felt welcomed by everyone I met, but there was an untangible quality to the Bajo that I have enjoyed being mystified by, and believe that it's actually one of the greatest guardians of their culture. The external pressures on Bajo traditions are prevalent- rising modernity through technology, a conservative Muslim teacher that wants to squeeze out local traditions, and simply a new generation of teenagers...and I'm curious to see when push comes to shove how this nomadic culture will continue to stay "free", or how they will choose to settle.
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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012, Survey of Development Issues

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Orang Laut

naya herman,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012, Survey of Development Issues

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“…the sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. How important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing […]

Posted On

11/17/12

Author

naya herman

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living with the Bajau on the sea


I woke up at five this morning to my mama calling my name from the other side of the curtain that divides our simple house in two. I could see through the bamboo slats of my floor that the tide was low, revealing a sand bar usually covered by ocean, on which my stilted house is built. After a cup of Indonesia's best instant coffee, and applying a mask of yellow paste to our faces to protect them from the sun, we walked out onto the sand bar. My mom held a small bowl in one hand and a dull knife in the other, and I held a basket. I clumsy walked on the wet sand as my mama easily moved through it, searching for sea cucumbers, urchins, and other peculiar looking creatures in the sand with her bare feet. When she found them she would toss the things into my basket, and I would cheer. She would smile slightly, nod her head, and grunt faintly in response. She cut some of the sea cucumbers and urchins open right there and we slurped down their insides raw. They were slippery and tasted like the sea. When our basket was full and the tide began to rise we climbed back up the latter to the lofted village. When we were seated on our porch my mother continued to slit open the sea cucumbers and expertly extract what I assume must be the most delicious parts, and separated out the rest of the slimy contents into a bowl. Our small porch became crowded with neighbors and teenagers dressed in their school uniforms. They slurped down the things and gave me a thumbs up, ensuring me how delicious the creatures were. A girl named Irma kidnapped we then to walk around town. We walked by a house where the three day circumcision ceremony is being held, and the young boys and girls were smearing thick black grease on each-others faces. Irma told me that the kids that had grease on them would get water thrown on them later that day as part of the ceremony. I joined the kids in rubbing grease on my face. The kids thought it was hilarious, however my mama did not, and made me wash it off right away. My afternoon was spent on porches. I began on my porch, then went to my neighbors porch, then to another neighbors porch. All of the people from our side of the boardwalk were porch hopping in the same way. Checking in on each-other, playing with children, and seeking shade when the hot sunlight chased them from their own porches. I sat for hours, silently learning from them and having all the time in the world just to think, with an absolute feeling of contentedness. I've never found myself in a place where doing nothing felt so productive. [post_title] => a day on the porch [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-day-on-the-porch [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-08 16:17:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-08 23:17:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=39495 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 36 [name] => Best Notes From The Field [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 36 [taxonomy] => category [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [parent] => 0 [count] => 503 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0 [cat_ID] => 36 [category_count] => 503 [category_description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 284 [name] => Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012 [slug] => indonesia-semester-fall-2012 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 284 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 243 [count] => 96 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14.1 [cat_ID] => 284 [category_count] => 96 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012 [category_nicename] => indonesia-semester-fall-2012 [category_parent] => 243 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2012/indonesia-semester-fall-2012/ ) ) [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012 )

Best Notes From The Field, Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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a day on the porch

Lauren Harper,Best Notes From The Field, Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

November 13 living with the Bajau on the sea I woke up at five this morning to my mama calling my name from the other side of the curtain that divides our simple house in two. I could see through the bamboo slats of my floor that the tide was low, revealing a sand bar […]

Posted On

11/17/12

Author

Lauren Harper

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The second I stepped onto the dock of Sampela, time disappeared. This is a community of Bajo sea nomads, whose daily life abides by no schedule. In this village built on stilts, about a km from the shore, life is governed by needs and little more.

The majority of my time in Sampela was spent sitting on a bamboo slatted porch with my host mom and my two host sisters. All three of them had had a baby within in the last year, so much of the day’s activities revolved around their needs. There was never too much variance in what I was doing or what the porch was like at different times of days or even different days. Thinking back to my days sitting on that porch I remember everything that happened there as one memory. I remember the where, not specifically the when. The porch being where I people watched, maybe a few acknowledging my presence with a “Hello tourist!” The porch was where, at least twice a day, a woman would come by to sell fried snacks. Where the babies might begin wailing and the effective method to quiet them was to place them in hammocks attached to ceiling beams by springs. The porch being where my host mother would suggest that I take a bath and when I came back, she would tell me after I bathed I was more beautiful. The porch was where my family would patiently teach me the Bajo language. The porch was where my mother operated a small drink stand where people would buy iced drinks that they sipped out of plastic bags. This was where I experienced hospitality unlike any other. My family was more than willing to feed me, sometimes on the edge of forcing me to eat. They were willing to let me help wash clothes and dishes. And they were willing to open their hearts to me and treat me like I was truly part of the family.

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Sampela Sittin’

Emily Armstrong,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

The second I stepped onto the dock of Sampela, time disappeared. This is a community of Bajo sea nomads, whose daily life abides by no schedule. In this village built on stilts, about a km from the shore, life is governed by needs and little more. The majority of my time in Sampela was spent […]

Posted On

11/17/12

Author

Emily Armstrong

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I have experienced hell and it is called the Pelni.

This was the first line of the yak I was going to post, but then I took another pelni boat ride and discovered it doesnt have to be this way. But imagine being trapped on the grimiest hottest, smelliest over crowded, cock-roach infested space, listening to a celene Dion concert on repeat for 30 + hours and you can probably envision it. Like seriously, I think someone died on the first pelni outside our cabin and they probably just threw him overboard along with the piles of trash we left in our wake every 5 minutes. As tokoh (the group hero), i was generally inspiring throughout this part of the odessey ( as if i am not always inspiring) ... i mean no one threw themselves overboard. So that’s good. Actually, what i meant to say about the pelni was that I learned alot about myself, rugged travel indo style, and gained a new found appreciation of life off the pelni... travel days are harsh.

After the pelni we took a two hour speedboat ride tp hoga, a marine research station in it’s offseason. it was there we met Stew, the newest edition to our instructor clique. Meeting Stew and realizing he was a real person caused some identity crisis for me on account of the fact that while i was RT for forever, the instuctor clique confided to me that I was actually “Stew” and would be initiated as the third instructor. It’s been rough and I am not sure if this tension is one-sided.. maye I will bring it up at the next feedback sesh. But we repped our group adat pretty hard and welcomed stew with a dance party courtesy of DJ white bread.

Entering Sampella I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of children (And ramen packets) standing on the dock to greet us, shouting “Hello Touris”and grabbing at our hands as we walked to our homestays. I was struck by how solid sampella seemed. more otfen than not, houses were built atop coral platforms (Although the newer houses along the edge lived on the edge with sometimes sketchy wwalkways and houses on stilts.) My house was concrete with a searate bathroom outside which was mildly disapointing in that that meant I couldn’t just pee in the kitchen like in the houses with bamboo flooring. On the other hand, I never had to worry about breaking the floor and falling through. My homestay family hads never hosted a dragons student before but were so gracious in welcoming me (although their 20 cats didnt seem to like me very much...). In the mornings I would often help my ebu paddle to the nearby land town kali Dupa to buy vegetables and potable water. I also would go with my sister nuba ing which is when the tide goes out really hard and you can walk in the sand banks to find tide pool creatures. This is was really fun, I like the sea cucumber things? i dunno I named one steve.

The Bajo community was so connected to the ocean in terms of sustenance and spirituality. I feel like they were just born swimming and paddling (they are so jacked) and they navigate through the water with such ease. Some of the menn would only touch land a few times a year, and often the women would paddle up to the market and sell fish from their canoes. The Bajo community was located in the wakitobi marine reserve and our group talked to the community and to the park rangers about what types of regulations were being imposed as part of a movement towards more sustainable fishing practices. When we talked to the community they said in terms of declining fish populations and increased regulations, they would rather move than change detrimental practice such a bomb fishing, etc. This suprised me given how much they value the ocean. Sampella initially seemed so far away and so foreign, but I left with a sense of shared sense of humanity. And really tan. Now we are heading for a homestay in tana toaja and I am so excited for the cold weather, coffee, and culture stuffz.Super team go!
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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Hallo Boss!

Olivia "Stew" Rothberg,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

I have experienced hell and it is called the Pelni. This was the first line of the yak I was going to post, but then I took another pelni boat ride and discovered it doesnt have to be this way. But imagine being trapped on the grimiest hottest, smelliest over crowded, cock-roach infested space, listening […]

Posted On

11/17/12

Author

Olivia "Stew" Rothberg

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The bajau people have a legend that once there was a king whose daughter was kidnapped. The king, distraught, ordered his people to take boats acros every ocean to look for her, and never to stop until they found her. She was never found, and those people became the first bajau.

Now, ordered by the government to abandon their nomadic way of life, the bajau live in small villages on stilts in the ocean, close enough to land that fresh water is easily accessible, but far enough that a clear distinction is still made between bajau and land peope. Their mentality, however, is still nomadic and very much connected to the ocean. The houses are built in such a way that they collapse after a few years- meant to be a temporary home only, and most bajau have very few personal posessions. Religious ceremonies take place on the ocean. Most of the men still fish as their main source of income, and many spend more time in their boats than in their homes.

I went out fishing once with my bajau host father- a wonderful, smiling man who I was always happy to see, though we never talked much. It was a short trip, only about an hour, around sunset. The sky was a beautiful pink and the ocean its usual vast self, and in the midst of all of that it was hard not to think about freedom, the feeling of freedom that must come with being nomadic, of having only yourself and your faimily, a boat and the whole ocean ahead of you. Something I've noticed while trekking or travelling is that my sense of "home" quickly stops being associated with location and attaches itself instead to the belongings I carry and the people around me. I think that being nomadic must be the ultimate expression of that- when you move all your life and belongings mean little, your home is simply yourself.

As if the realization itself wasn't magical enough, a minute later I saw a manta ray burst out of the surface of the water and do a perfect slow-motion flip before falling back in. I was sad when we turned and headed back to the village. I felt like I could have stayed on the ocean forever.

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Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

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Across Oceans

Lyda Langford,Indonesia Semester, Fall 2012

Description

The bajau people have a legend that once there was a king whose daughter was kidnapped. The king, distraught, ordered his people to take boats acros every ocean to look for her, and never to stop until they found her. She was never found, and those people became the first bajau. Now, ordered by the […]

Posted On

11/16/12

Author

Lyda Langford

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