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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation


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    [post_content] => If I brought you to Indonesia, I'd show you the ocean. I'd write you poetry about how it's more blue than in the movies and clear enough to see the reef blooming dozens of feet below your low-slung boat. I'd tell you stories of misadventure about the sea creatures gliding beneath your feet and the people living with the ocean.

Then I'd make sure you saw the trash spotting the surface, sometime loosely spread enough to make you think it could be an accident, sometimes as dense as my new smattering of freckles. I'd explain to you Indonesia's plastic obsession and penchant for littering. I'd reassure you that people are trying - some places they educate children and organize regular clean ups. But it doesn't help. At least not enough.

I'd take you to Sampela, where you are forced to confront this reality yourself. Where past Dragons students picked up bags and bags of trash only to have to put them back in the ocean, because that's where trash goes. Where any amount of litter you produce you are directly putting into the ocean (so how can you justify even an extra tissue?). Or you can carry your trash out and throw it in a convenient garbage bin in the next city. And then somebody else might put it in the ocean for you. The only thing you've done is remove the guilt, and seemingly the responsibility to consider the implications. Even in America, where we feel confident in tossing something out, it just might be shipped across the world to be put in the Indonesian ocean. We've gotten good enough at hiding these truths from ourselves to believe that recycling and composting is doing enough.
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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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Trash

Emma,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

If I brought you to Indonesia, I’d show you the ocean. I’d write you poetry about how it’s more blue than in the movies and clear enough to see the reef blooming dozens of feet below your low-slung boat. I’d tell you stories of misadventure about the sea creatures gliding beneath your feet and the […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Emma

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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Indonesia Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th

Cathay Pacific #798

Depart: Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK) 12:05 AM

Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 5:50 AM


Cathay Pacific #898

Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 10:15 AM

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 6:40 AM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin

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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Indonesia Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_content] => These twelve intrepid souls have said their goodbyes to Indonesia and are homeward bound! We parted ways at immigration, and all twelve students are checked in for an on-time departure for Hong Kong. Look for an update when they arrive in LAX.

 

Selamat jalan, semua!

 

 
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And they’re off!

Lindsay Olsen,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

These twelve intrepid souls have said their goodbyes to Indonesia and are homeward bound! We parted ways at immigration, and all twelve students are checked in for an on-time departure for Hong Kong. Look for an update when they arrive in LAX.   Selamat jalan, semua!    

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Lindsay Olsen

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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Indonesia Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Tuesday, December 6th

Cathay Pacific #798

Depart: Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK) 12:05 AM

Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 5:50 AM


Cathay Pacific #898

Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 10:15 AM

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 6:40 AM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin

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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Indonesia Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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This morning we were awoken in our separate houses before the sun broke the horizon. Between the yelling, incessant roosters crowing, and the feeling of bamboo strips spontaneously springing up beneath us as people walked around the rickety house, it was impossible to stay asleep for long. Last night Annika’s host dad, Pak Jaruning, had invited us to join him spearfishing, so we met at around six on his little section of the dock where the boat was tethered. We watched in awe as Pak Jaruning effortlessly leaped into the boat as though he were greeting an old friend. The boat precipitously swayed in the oily, sewage-filled muck below, and we were grateful that Annika’s host mom, Bu Apusia, stood firmly perched on the bow of the boat, steadying it with a long bamboo stick. We awkwardly clambered into the dugout canoe, which was a collision of traditional, simple structure and a rugged attempt at modern technology. Selsia, Annika’s host sister, passed her infant nephew (not much younger than she) down the ladder to her mother. After she leapt into the boat, we set off.

As we paddled away from the village, we watched bottles, wrappers, dead animals, fish bones, and feces float by. Once out of the shallow, exposed, lifeless coral flats, the sea grew deep enough for Pak Jaruning to hand-start the motor. It grumbled to a shaky start, spewing black smoke that burned our lungs and briefly obscured our vision. We spent the next 45 minutes rocking through the placid, murky, ocean water. At first we attempted to shout over the machine gun rattle of the motor, but then resigned to its rhythmic sputtering that drowned out all other noise.

We finally reached the waters surrounding Hoga, a nearby island, where the stunning, polychromatic coral gardens plunged downwards into the depths as quickly as they began. The boat slowing, Bu Apusia dropped a makeshift anchor, once part of an engine, into the clear waters below. As Pak Jaruning put on his hand-carved, wood and glass goggles, we reluctantly retrieved our ‘space masks’ (Western-styled snorkel equipment). The three of us jumped into the warm water, leaving Bu Apusia to care for her daughter and grandchild in the boat.

We spent the next two hours attempting to keep up with Pak Jaruning as he glided through the water, a stealthy hunter careful not to startle the fish. Years of practice allowed him to distinguish between the protected fish and the fish that his wife would be able to legally sell at the market on the neighboring island of Kaledupa.  Once he identified a target, he would dive down about a dozen meters and wait for the perfect moment to pull the trigger on his spear gun. Each spear sent piercing through the water created an audible whirr, followed by the sound of a fish wildly thrashing to break free. We marveled at the steadily increasing string of multicolored fish dragged behind Pak Jaruning. We could do little to contribute to his effort, yet we did retrieve some of his catches and swim them back to the boat, one hand tightly grasping the still twitching, slimy fish, the other vigorously battling the strong current.

When Pak Jaruning decided we had caught enough fish for the day, we returned to the tilting, crooked patchwork of wooden planks and bamboo walls of Sampela. As we neared the village, we were brought back to reality, where plastic pokes out of the sea like an infectious disease that can’t be shaken. Coming in at low tide, we scraped and bumped along the dead coral covered in barely 6 inches of water. Bu Apusia paddled us through sludge covered sea grass, piles of sea urchins, and Halloween colored starfish. Eventually we reached the rest of Annika’s host family, who awaited our return with coolers and buckets in hand.  Sunburned, salted, and smelling of fish, we yet again struggled to remain upright as we haphazardly disembarked after the family.

This morning gave us a snapshot of a day in the life of the Bajau people. Although we were initially appalled to discover that we were fishing in a protected zone, Bajau people have a culture of subsistence, and therefore don’t take the long-term effects of overfishing a reef into consideration. After all, they have historically led a nomadic life and are therefore conditioned to moving on to a new reef once the resources of the old have run dry. Many blame the Bajau for environmental destruction, especially denizens from the neighboring island of Kalidupa. Nonetheless, the problem is much larger than the Bajau; it is a systematic problem perpetuated by the same people who point fingers at Sampelans, as they, too, benefit from the fish that the Bajau catch each day. Whether it’s selling them to Kalidupans or exporting them foreign markets, we are all part of the issue.

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Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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Spearfishing

Annika Kendall and Emily Zislis,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

This morning we were awoken in our separate houses before the sun broke the horizon. Between the yelling, incessant roosters crowing, and the feeling of bamboo strips spontaneously springing up beneath us as people walked around the rickety house, it was impossible to stay asleep for long. Last night Annika’s host dad, Pak Jaruning, had […]

Posted On

11/28/16

Author

Annika Kendall and Emily Zislis

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27-11-16

Sampela

The Ocean

The chickens are learning how to fly. There is no land. There is nothing for them to peck. I saw one fly from the twisted boardwalk to the peak of a bamboo hut with a thatched roof. When I woke up this morning I could see it strutting. It was a boy chicken, I think. It was crowing.

The scavenged boards that make the railing of the porch I sleep on, framed it and it looked like a picture of a chicken hanging on the wall of a mid-western kitchen. The chicken walked back and forth like a night watchman. After a while, it sort of fell from the roof.

The house behind this house has a broken satellite dish that is growing out of a tree. It ‘s a flower made of cheap metal and rust. The frame, which is all that is left, looks remarkably similar to the octagonal clotheslines that people had when I was a kid. You could spin the clothesline around like an alfresco tie rack or the thing that brings you your suit from the depths of the dry cleaner. The people who live in that house use the satellite dish to dry clothes with too, but it doesn’t spin around.

The bleached bones of a billion polyps have been smashed and stacked up into pseudo-rectangular piles where the nicest houses sit and fall apart. It must have taken a billion years to design a system in which a microscopic plant can be born inside of a tiny animal that lives inside the hollowed out skeleton of it’s ancestors. Lindsay told me that the system is something like having a delicious fruit tree—like a mango tree or a grapefruit tree—that lives inside of your body and grows fruit to feed you and makes oxygen for you to breathe. I imagine it like a certified organic® Rube Goldberg engine living in your stomach.

Some of the hunks of coral that make up the foundations look like deranged skulls. Sometimes you can just make out the hollowed out eye-sockets. The rats spend their days running in and out of them before they come inside at night.

This whole place looks like a flattened out M.C. Escher drawing. There are boardwalks that twist and trail off to nowhere. There are boardwalks that abruptly end where the ocean starts and where little kids jig for baitfish and then lasso them over their heads and fling them to sea in search of something to eat. Sometimes they catch medium size barracuda’s and bring them up onto the dry-rotting boards and stand with their legs far apart and wait for the fish to take a break from its flopping and suffocating. When the fish stops a child will slip his child’s hand into its gills and break it’s spine. There are boardwalks that end seemingly for no reason at all and then start again somewhere else. The boards are washed and bleached by a relentless sun. Some of them warp and bend as their piers slowly fall over.

It is easy to make this place beautiful. All you have to do is walk out toward the edge of town and take a picture of an idyllic and isolated little hut, standing on crooked stilts with a hand-hewn boat tied to the little ladder that leads to the little porch. These houses are not connected to the rest of the houses and this makes them romantic and longed for. These pictures look like things from a National Geographic magazine—or at least National Geographic’s Instagram feed. You can send these pictures to your family and friends and they will want to come visit you.

If you want a guarantee that it will be beautiful than just wait till the sun goes down and take a photograph when the golden light ignites the wisps of thatch and makes a murky, smeared oil paint reflection in the shallow waters.

As far as I can tell, Sampela never sleeps. If you live here, you don’t have the time. Walk down the rickety boardwalks that connect the latticed bamboo huts with grass and cardboard roofs and you will see people sleeping at all times of the day and night. A few days ago, I saw three children and two women sleeping half in and half out of their home as if they were murdered on their way to or from somewhere. I wonder if there were chalk outlines left behind when they got up

I have always wondered what the stars looked like before artificial light. I know that there are places on earth where the stars must look about the same as they did a thousand years ago. This has to be one of those places. Nobody here seems to care.

I once read a translation of the bible exactly how it was written. The author had skipped the dozens of iterations and updates that kept the story current with the times. In the original version . . . In the original version god created a big pot (the earth) and a lid (the sky) to go on top. Then god put the lid on the pot but the people couldn’t breathe. He put some holes in the lid of the pot to let some air in.

When we die we float up like steam and leak out of through the stars and then we are in heaven.

Some people don’t get turned into steam so they can leak out through the stars and go to heaven. Some people are plucked out early, like little strings of spaghetti, and flung against the wall to see if they are finished.

Tonight is a moonless night and the stars are bright and shrieking against the sky. People here fling food and garbage out of their windows, directly into the sea. They all have an ocean view.

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Sampela

Micah LeMasters,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

27-11-16 Sampela The Ocean The chickens are learning how to fly. There is no land. There is nothing for them to peck. I saw one fly from the twisted boardwalk to the peak of a bamboo hut with a thatched roof. When I woke up this morning I could see it strutting. It was a […]

Posted On

11/28/16

Author

Micah LeMasters

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David Roy

Mr. LeMasters

Block: Indo

20 November 2016

The Price of a Beng-Beng

            “I’ll take that bet.”  Glancing over at the fellow student, I raise an amused eyebrow.  Just moments before, amidst an impassioned discussion concerning the potential consequences of a Trump presidency, I offered to bet one beng-beng, a candy bar, that Donald J. Trump would win the general election.  For those of you who haven’t tried a beng-beng, I am truly sorry. I will do my best to impart even a small facet of what eating a beng-beng encompasses.  After biting into a beng-beng, something wonderful happens in your mouth: cool spring honey, burnt apple, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, pressed grape, sweet pear, and clear well water. For those of you who have tried one, you don’t need to be reminded.

My motivation for risking something so delicious did not, surprisingly, stem from my desire to see a racist, sexist, narcissistic, and self-deluded carrot become the most powerful man on the planet.  You see, I like to hedge my bets.  No matter which of the two major party candidates won, I came out ahead.  Should Hillary Clinton go down in history as our first female president, I lose a beng-beng but gain a future in which America remains a bastion of equality and opportunity.  Should Donald J. Trump go down in history as our most inexperienced, ineloquent, and crude president, I obtain a delicious means to take the edge off of living through the next four years in fear.  With the thought of my assured victory regardless of the result, I eagerly awaited the outcome of the election.

            Come Election Day, I, and three other students, woke up early to look up the election results.  Unfortunately, we misjudged when the polling finished and subsequently spent the next two hours or so killing time by enjoying a startling variety of nutmeg products and stressing about the potential outcome of the election.  To make matters worse, we lost Internet access during our boat ride to Hatta, an island that has neither phones nor Internet access of any kind, with only the knowledge that Trump had a strong lead.  Despite the high likelihood that Donald J. Trump had won, my betting adversary refused to buy a beng-beng in preparation for her almost inevitable defeat.  After a day of excruciating suspense, a lovely Dutch couple arrived on Hatta and told us the news we had so eagerly awaited: Donald J. Trump was our president elect.  The prospect of eating a beng-beng no longer seemed as desirable as it once had.  Sadly, there are some woes that not even a beng-beng can erase completely.

            Engrossed with worries about the future of my far-off country, I initially failed to consider the similarities between America’s very own walking spray tan and Indonesia’s universally hated former president turned dictator, Suharto.  From 1965 to 1998, Suharto ruled Indonesia by quashing all forms of dissent and forcing the former president, Sukarno, to sign the Supersamar, a document that granted him unlimited executive power.  By the time Suharto’s reign ended, he left Indonesia with a crippling amount of national debt and his complete control of all news networks, politicians, and military personnel.

Fortunately, the Indonesian people have chosen to move away from a dictatorial and out-of-touch president to one who seeks to improve their country, which is more than we, as Americans, can say. While I don’t believe these two presidents will parallel each other perfectly, America should not ignore Suharto’s damaging impact on Indonesia.  When I fly home, I will bring back that hard-won beng-beng and the knowledge that we can learn more than just hospitality from Indonesia.

Edited by: Theo Perisic

 

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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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The price of a Beng-Beng

David Roy,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

David Roy Mr. LeMasters Block: Indo 20 November 2016 The Price of a Beng-Beng             “I’ll take that bet.”  Glancing over at the fellow student, I raise an amused eyebrow.  Just moments before, amidst an impassioned discussion concerning the potential consequences of a Trump presidency, I offered to bet one beng-beng, a candy bar, that […]

Posted On

11/24/16

Author

David Roy

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 150563
    [post_author] => 2
    [post_date] => 2016-11-23 13:52:25
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-23 20:52:25
    [post_content] => 

Today we had a panel with four fishermen from Sampela to hear more about what it’s like to live off of the ocean. The past week here has highlighted the nuances of the balance between fishing to support a growing population and overall reef conservation. It’s a question of constant cost-benefit analysis in regards to short term subsistence versus long-term sustainability. Most of the time, Bajau people get a bad reputation in Indonesia for passively overfishing a certain area and then moving on when the ecosystem can no longer sustain them. However, the Bajau people are more affected than anyone by reef degradation and are therefore hyperaware of diminishing fish and coral populations. 

Here are some of the things we learned:

Methods

·      hook and line

·      net

·      spear

·      working on an industrial boat

·      occasional bomb fishing

·      occasional cyanide for lobster

Types of Fish

·      octopus

·      grouper

·      tuna

·      cuttlefish

·      lobster

·      squid

·      snapper

·      other unprotected reef fish

·      occasionally sharks (shark fin soup) --> exported to Bali

·      occasionally turtles (jewelry and food) --> exported to Bali, although you must perform a ceremony in order to kill one

Other Facts

·      many men can free dive up to 20 meters on a single breath for minutes at a time

·      boys often don’t go to school and instead learn to fish from their fathers

·      fishing is not just about the money, it is also done as a hobby

·      the average fisherman can make up to 300,000 rupiah (~$25) per day

·      some men have caught tuna weighing up to 100kg, in the Banda Sea 30 miles away

·      land people on Kaledupa, the nearest island, use traps rather than actually fishing which is frowned upon by the Bajau

·      national park rangers infrequently patrol the protected areas, yet often the Bajau feel entitled to the reef and so they continue to covertly fish there

·      many men here know how to make fertilizer bombs and a few have lost appendages setting them off

·      octupus fisherman make a fabric octopi to pose as a mate, luring the real ones out of their holes

Down the Road

·      there are fewer fish every year which increases migration away from Sampela

·      they think everyone (land people, government, park rangers, and the Bajau community) should work together to create more effective fishing regulations

·      this generation of fishermen hope to be able to send some of their children to get an education rather than to continue fishing

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Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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Fishing

Emily Zislis and Charlotte Driscol,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

Today we had a panel with four fishermen from Sampela to hear more about what it’s like to live off of the ocean. The past week here has highlighted the nuances of the balance between fishing to support a growing population and overall reef conservation. It’s a question of constant cost-benefit analysis in regards to […]

Posted On

11/23/16

Author

Emily Zislis and Charlotte Driscol

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 13
    [post_date] => 2016-11-22 12:20:02
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-22 19:20:02
    [post_content] => 

“I’ll take that bet.”  Glancing over at the fellow student, I raise an amused eyebrow.  Just moments before, amidst an impassioned discussion concerning the potential consequences of a Trump presidency, I offered to bet one beng-beng, a candy bar, that Donald J. Trump would win the general election.  For those of you who haven’t tried a beng-beng, I am truly sorry. I will do my best to impart even a small facet of what eating a beng-beng encompasses.  After biting into a beng-beng, something wonderful happens in your mouth: cool spring honey, burnt apple, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, pressed grape, sweet pear, and clear well water. For those of you who have tried one, you don’t need to be reminded.

My motivation for risking something so delicious did not, surprisingly, stem from my desire to see a racist, sexist, narcissistic, and self-deluded carrot become the most powerful man on the planet.  You see, I like to hedge my bets.  No matter which of the two major party candidates won, I came out ahead.  Should Hillary Clinton go down in history as our first female president, I lose a beng-beng but gain a future in which America remains a bastion of equality and opportunity.  Should Donald J. Trump go down in history as our most inexperienced, ineloquent, and crude president, I obtain a delicious means to take the edge off of living through the next four years in fear.  With the thought of my assured victory regardless of the result, I eagerly awaited the outcome of the election.

Come Election Day, I, and three other students, woke up early to look up the election results.  Unfortunately, we misjudged when the polling finished and subsequently spent the next two hours or so killing time by enjoying a startling variety of nutmeg products and stressing about the potential outcome of the election.  To make matters worse, we lost Internet access during our boat ride to Hatta, an island that has neither phones nor Internet access of any kind, with only the knowledge that Trump had a strong lead.  Despite the high likelihood that Donald J. Trump had won, my betting adversary refused to buy a beng-beng in preparation for her almost inevitable defeat.  After a day of excruciating suspense, a lovely Dutch couple arrived on Hatta and told us the news we had so eagerly awaited: Donald J. Trump was our president elect.  The prospect of eating a beng-beng no longer seemed as desirable as it once had.  Sadly, there are some woes that not even a beng-beng can erase completely.

Engrossed with worries about the future of my far-off country, I initially failed to consider the similarities between America’s very own walking spray tan and Indonesia’s universally hated former president turned dictator, Suharto.  From 1965 to 1998, Suharto ruled Indonesia by quashing all forms of dissent and forcing the former president, Sukarno, to sign the Supersamar, a document that granted him unlimited executive power.  By the time Suharto’s reign ended, he left Indonesia with a crippling amount of national debt and his complete control of all news networks, politicians, and military personnel.

Fortunately, the Indonesian people have chosen to move away from a dictatorial and out-of-touch president to one who seeks to improve their country, which is more than we, as Americans, can say. While I don’t believe these two presidents will parallel each other perfectly, America should not ignore Suharto’s damaging impact on Indonesia.  When I fly home, I will bring back that hard-won beng-beng and the knowledge that we can learn more than just hospitality from Indonesia.

 

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Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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The Price of a Beng-Beng

David Roy,Best Notes From The Field, FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

“I’ll take that bet.”  Glancing over at the fellow student, I raise an amused eyebrow.  Just moments before, amidst an impassioned discussion concerning the potential consequences of a Trump presidency, I offered to bet one beng-beng, a candy bar, that Donald J. Trump would win the general election.  For those of you who haven’t tried […]

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 150531
    [post_author] => 13
    [post_date] => 2016-11-21 15:18:49
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-21 22:18:49
    [post_content] => 

In Jogja, before we left for Langa, I read aloud to the group a piece from a previous Dragons student about my soon-to-be host sister, Mertin, and her incredible library and dedication. At the time, I had no idea how important Mertin would become to me in the following weeks. Though I have no hope of putting it as eloquently as this other student, I’d like to share a little of what made Mertin and my time in Langa so special.

* * *

Mertin is one of the most remarkable Indonesians I’ve met. She is the only one of her eight siblings to go to university. She’s the only female journalist in her district and one of only five female journalists in all of Flores. She’s one of the few girls in the Langa Trekking Community (LTC).  She’s a leader in the strong Langa Christian community and the “youth” community, which she goes to annual national and regional youth conferences for all over Indonesia (also making Mertin one of the best-traveled Indonesians I’ve met; next year she’ll have been to all the major islands).

Mertin is intensely driven and when she isn’t working, she volunteers teaching journalism at a local high school. She wants kids to look at the world more critically and get better at public speaking. Mertin also operates a library out of her house that she (except for some help from Dragons in the past) conceptualized, built, and stocked by herself. She wants people to be able to see how life is elsewhere, to inspire them out of their complacency. She wants people to keep learning and to learn in different ways.

Mertin has big dreams of a different Langa, of business ventures, and of world peace. She works hard enough that her dreams seem feasible.

* * *

My other host sister, Ita, was also incredibly hardworking, if not overshadowed by Mertin’s success and drive. Ita often worked 18-hour days during my visit preparing food for weddings, one with 3,000 guests. When she wasn’t cooking, she was taking care of the family or in the kabun making coffee, one of the largest sources of income for our family.

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FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

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Langa Sisters

Emme Cooney,FALL: Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation

Description

In Jogja, before we left for Langa, I read aloud to the group a piece from a previous Dragons student about my soon-to-be host sister, Mertin, and her incredible library and dedication. At the time, I had no idea how important Mertin would become to me in the following weeks. Though I have no hope […]

Posted On

11/21/16

Author

Emme Cooney

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