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SELAMAT SORE! (Good Afternoon!)

Good evening from Pejeng, Bali where we are witnessing an Upacara (oo-pa-char-a) known to the gringo's as a ceremony. This one in particular is celebrating the full moon. Wish I could tell you why.... more to come on that subject.

We just spent our fourth night in Tanggayuda right outside of Ubud, Bali where we are being treated like absolute royalty by some of the local families. They are always trying to feed us more and more and more rice. I will say that it has taken some getting used to our new alarm clock system-- the roosters that rally around 5 am and don't quit til around sundown. At least no one is sleeping in for our daily language lesson beginning at 8:30 and lasting until around 10:30 or 11. As for the rest of our activities we've been visiting local Batik workshops, attending different ceremonies (such as full moon) and local temples with incredible holy bathing areas and natural pools with hot springs.

In the coming months we've been thinking of what specific aspects of the varying communities we want to learn most about-- religion, family and human interaction with social and natural environment seem to be peeking most of our interests and will serve as a starting off point in our investigations.

We are ALL thinking of you during our time here especially in homestays where family is most important. LOTS OF LOVE HAPPY BELATED V-DAY <3 <3 Miss you all.

LOVE

Emily

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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FROM ALL OF US!

Emily Chambers,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

SELAMAT SORE! (Good Afternoon!) Good evening from Pejeng, Bali where we are witnessing an Upacara (oo-pa-char-a) known to the gringo’s as a ceremony. This one in particular is celebrating the full moon. Wish I could tell you why…. more to come on that subject. We just spent our fourth night in Tanggayuda right outside of […]

Posted On

02/17/11

Author

Emily Chambers

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Well, we are now firmly into Day 2 of homestays and things are going remarkably well!As everyone seems far too busy exploring the village, trying new foods, batiking and learning a new language to post Yak yaks, I am going to write on their behalf!

Yesterday morning, the students arrived to the small village of Banjar Tanggayuda, just northwest of Ubud in central Bali. Waiting in the Bale Banjar (village meeting space) were 12 nervous representatives from our local host families. I had distributed names cars with the name of each student so they could start to practice pronouncing their guest's name. As the minibus pulled up and the our Dragons students tricked into the building, there was a busy little flutter of activity as anxious homestay mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers sought out their new family member. What a treat to hear them already using their bahasa language skills: Nama saya Kiara...Nama Saya Isaac...Nama saya Emily....

After a quick meeting where they were given maps of the village and the homes where everyone would spend the next week, they were led one by one to their traditional Balinese compounds.

As balinese extended families live together, some students were greeted by the other 25 people living within the same compound, and others settled into a relatively quieter space.

After a short time getting settled, they returned to the Bale Banjar again to check in and have lunch, some thing that is already very familiar: nasi campur, a mix of steamed white rice with a mix of veggies and fish or chicken or tofu. For only three days of practice at eating with their right hand, they demonstrated some excellent skills!

After lunch, they got settled into an intensive language lesson which I observed. Again, given the very short time that this group has been in country, I was very impressed to the degree of language acquisition that they already possess! It is always challenging to learn a new language, but everyone stayed very focussed throughout the lesson, and took advantage of the great teaching skills of our very pregnant Indonesian teacher, Ibu Nyoman.

After language, the group went on a nature walk and explored the small backroads of the village, the emerald green rice paddies, and took a hike down to the Ayung river to cool off in the cool water...

After dinner in their homestays, we were treated to a lecture by Ibu Rucina Ballinger, author of Balinese Dance, Drama and Music. Rucina is an American woman who has been in Bali for 36 years, and who is married to a Balinese scholar. She came here to study traditional Balinese dancing when she was 22 and is a highly respected dancer and member of the community. In her introduction to Balinese culture through a lecture and series of interesting slides and we learned about many different aspects of Balinese culture and community which will serve as a great framework for stepping into Balinese homestays. She spoke about the role of geography and mountains in Balinese culture - from the way the temples and homes are built, to the way people orientate themselves while traveling. She talked about ceremonies and offerings, and the elaborate detail and symbolism that makes up this important part of Balinese daily life. We learned about the different life cycle rituals, family and community structure, the role of women and some of the artist traditions unique to Bali.

To illustrate how difficult Balinese dancing is, Rucina guided us into the proper stance and within minutes, everyone was aching to straighten their legs!

Students asked some great questions about gender roles and the unique practice of Hinduism in Bali...

It was a full day, and by 9:30, everyone was making their way back to their new homes in Banjar Tanggayuda.

After this morning’s language lesson, they made their way up to the sustainable batik center run by pak Tjok Agung, a member of the Balinese Royal Family. Pak Tjok Agung initiated a woman’s coop where they create magnificent batik fabrics using only locally grown, environmentally-friendly dyes, such as indigo and tree bark. The students will return later today, having created their own batiks with traditional wooden block prints. Stay tuned for photos!

Until next time, or “Sampai jumpa lagi!” ...

Jamie Woodall

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Day 2 of homestays…

Jamie Woodall ,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Well, we are now firmly into Day 2 of homestays and things are going remarkably well!As everyone seems far too busy exploring the village, trying new foods, batiking and learning a new language to post Yak yaks, I am going to write on their behalf! Yesterday morning, the students arrived to the small village of […]

Posted On

02/15/11

Author

Jamie Woodall

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    [post_content] =>    As you should know our group has arived safely in Bali, and I don't even know where to begin describing my experience. We've been trying some mind-blowing exotic fruits, seeing some awesome insects, but most of all being immersed in a culture of unbelievably friendly locals and learning Bahasa Indonesia. We have begun our home-stays, and from what I hear our experiences are differing but overall we are having a great time with our families and practicing our Bahasa Indonesia with them. And the food has been tantalizing our taste buds.

I am most excited to see what everyone's Independent Study Projects will be. We have some very talented artists and nature enthusiasts, but for me I think it's going to be comparing the native Alaskan culture I grew up with to that of the various different islands we will be hopping around. I am also compelled by the shamanic traditions and healing practices I have been hearing about... And also the extreme biodiversity of the coral reefs and jungles we will be swimming through...

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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First Impressions

Keenan Troll,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

As you should know our group has arived safely in Bali, and I don’t even know where to begin describing my experience. We’ve been trying some mind-blowing exotic fruits, seeing some awesome insects, but most of all being immersed in a culture of unbelievably friendly locals and learning Bahasa Indonesia. We have begun our home-stays, […]

Posted On

02/15/11

Author

Keenan Troll

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Dear Parents of the 2011 Spring Indonesia Semester Students,

Over the coming three months, I have no doubt that we will all get to know one another as we share the journey of these 12 intrepid travelers through the unique cultural and physical landscapes of Bali, Sulawesi and Maluku. Indonesia’s stunning archipelago of over 17,000 islands is a mecca for those interested in exploring the wonders of the natural world, and the diverse local communities that welcome us into their homes and their lives here.

Having seen the initial group picture, and read the first few notes, I am sure you must be brimming with curiosity and excitement (and likely a little apprehension and nervousness) about the adventure that has now just begun. As the Indonesia Semester Director, I will be in constant communication with the group, and will often serve as your liaison, posting notes and updates on their behalf, especially when they are out of email / telephone contact for a while. I welcome your questions anytime, and am happy tell you anything you want to know about the program. I wanted to take this opportunity as well, to simply introduce myself, and to share a little more about my background and my role as the Indonesia Semester Director.

I should begin by telling you that I reside in Bali, so there may be a short lag time in email responses due to the time difference. (I am 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard time) I live just northwest of the cultural hub of Ubud, with my husband and two children (a six year old daughter and three year old son).

My role as Indonesia Semester Director is to support the Instructor team to ensure that they run the best course possible. This includes everything from logistics to risk management to communications and curriculum delivery. Integral to the program’s success is clear and consistent communication with parents, students, the Instructor team and Dragons administration. As much of the program involves travel through remote rain forests and uninhabited islands, this may even take the form of conveying updates from the group via satellite phone text messages!

I have spent hours looking over the student applications and I am in awe of the unique talents and experiences each member of this group is bringing to this program! I am looking forward to the incredible community we are going to cultivate over the course of the spring. It is my sincere hope that this group returns home in May not only understanding a little more about the beauty, and complexity, of Indonesian culture, but also, a better understanding of their own personal strengths, and what they have to offer the global community. Having spent some time with the group in the past few days, I am already impressed with the degree to which they are diving in to every opportunity to learn! There is an air of gratitude in this group which will serve them well throughout the program.

One of the great aspects of traveling in such a small group is that everyone really gets to know one another, and everyone is already giving 150% to developing positive group culture. We spend the first 4 days of our programs doing just that - committing a chunk of time to sharing fears and goals, doing a lot of team building and trust exercises, and simply connecting before stepping out into the wider circle.

As for my background, I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and have been working in the field of education since 1992, when I started out working with young adults as a Therapeutic Tutor for kids with different learning styles (such as Dyslexia and ADHD). I loved the opportunity to work one-on-one with individual students to help them define and achieve their goals. After my first year of teaching, I traveled through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, and India for a year. My travels left a very deep impression on me and following my second year of teaching in Canada, I returned to Asia with a friend and a mountain bike, determined to delve a little deeper into the secret corners and niches I had been unable to explore by bus and train on my previous trip. Our journey took us from Kathmandu (Nepal) into Tibet where we headed west to the ancient trading center of Kashgar in Xinjiang, West China. From there, we rode south across the Khunjerab Pass and into Pakistan, traveling down the glorious Karakoram Highway. This magnificent road winds its way down through a labyrinth of 25,000-foot, snow-capped peaks. From central Pakistan, we crossed into India and I continued down south along the western coast. After 10 months of grueling cycle travel, (and far too many punctures!), I returned to Nepal to volunteer at a Canadian-Nepali run orphanage, study language at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, and apprentice in Buddhist thangka painting with a Tibetan teacher.

During the summer of 1999, I co-instructed my first Dragons summer program to Mt. Kailas, in western Tibet. Finally, my love of working with young adults, of traveling in Asia, and my interest in education, art and religious studies had found a place to flourish! Following a short trip to Laos and Burma, I returned to Boulder to work as the Program Director. In 2000, I instructed another Kailas program, and again, was greatly moved by the personal transformations I witnessed both in the field and long after the return home. In the fall of 2001, I co-instructed the Himalayan Studies Semester in the fall of 2001, the Sikkim summer program in 2003, and the fall Himalayan Studies semester in 2004. Since then, I have continued to oversee various semester programs as well as designing Dragons Custom Programs for schools.

In January of 2009, I moved to Bali with my family, to develop programming for the Green School, an international school which focuses on environmental sustainability. But, the more I learned about Indonesia, and the more I explored, the more I wondered why Dragons was not running programs here. With its pristine rain forests, incredible biodiversity, stunning marine environments, and unique indigenous communities - it was a program waiting to happen. So, after months of scouting and over a year of meeting with people who know Indonesia like their backyard, we designed an itinerary that would take Dragons students to some of the most spectacular parts of this vast archipelago. And, in the fall of 2010, the pioneering group of students made their way through the jungles, temples, and azure waters of Bali, Sulawesi and Maluku, blazing the trail for other Dragons students to come. As one student from the fall program said about future students, “I can’t picture this experience being any different, yet I know it could never be the same for anyone else....”

Indeed, there is no doubt that this new crop of spring explorers will discover new places and communities, forge new friendships, and define their own experience in a way that will be completely unique to this spring semester but one thing is certain - it will be a challenging, profound, and life changing experience. I am so excited about everything that will unfold over the coming twelve weeks, and look forward to sharing it with all of you.

I commend you for supporting your son or daughter’s decision to go out and explore the world. It is a big step that takes a lot of courage - on both your parts. I will leave you with the words of Herman Hesse who so eloquently captures the essence and magic of experiential learning and inspiring adventure travel in the following quotation from Steppenwolf:

"Only within yourself exists that other reality for which you long. I can give you nothing that has not already its being within yourself. I can throw open to you no picture gallery but your own soul. All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key. I can help you to make your own world visible. That is all."

I look forward to getting to know you, and your sons and daughters, over the coming months.

Best regards,

Jamie Woodall

Indonesia Semester Director

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Introduction from Indonesia Program Director

Jamie Woodall,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Dear Parents of the 2011 Spring Indonesia Semester Students, Over the coming three months, I have no doubt that we will all get to know one another as we share the journey of these 12 intrepid travelers through the unique cultural and physical landscapes of Bali, Sulawesi and Maluku. Indonesia’s stunning archipelago of over 17,000 […]

Posted On

02/15/11

Author

Jamie Woodall

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Hi all!

Reporting from Sideman, about 2 hours outside of Denpasar… the trip probably would have taken about 30 mins if the roads went straight and the motorcycles drove on the right side of the road- no fear about all of us breaking the motorcycle red rule! We arrived at the Lihat Sawah, a beautiful compound overlooking endless rice paddies, and the house of the gods, also known as Mt Agung volcano. Stepping out of the van and immediately breaking into a sweat, we all went to our rooms, relaxed, ate a wonderful dinner and hit the hay.

This morning we woke at an ungodly hour, thank you jetlag, and got ready for our jammed pack day.A detailed schedule awaited us, including our first activity of orientating ourselves for orientation (try saying that three times). We spent the rest of the day going over safety issues, group dynamic and all got very competitive over Jeopardy – Indonesian style. Then after a yummy lunch, we set out for our first mini exploration into the “jungle.” While exploring the diverse vegetation, we found baby bananas and ended up covering ourselves with their latex defense mechanism – shout out Arlo, while smiling kids begged us to take their “foto-foto,” which if you couldn’t guess means photo, we know, big stretch. Walking back we worked up a big sweat so many decided to get into their bathing suits and cool off in the infinity pool (yes, it honestly goes on forever!)

Over a dinner of curry, rice, papaya salad, and lots of vegetables, we decided we want to attempt yoga tomorrow morning, bright and early, on our deflated sleeping mats. We are looking forward to more orientation tomorrow, and really learning about the itinerary for the entire trip. So far we have had lots of laughs, lots of water, and everyone feels the positive vibes within the group. We hope everyone is well, and we miss and love you guys!

-Anna and Julia

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Our First Full Day in Bali!

Anna Porter and Julia Cole,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hi all! Reporting from Sideman, about 2 hours outside of Denpasar… the trip probably would have taken about 30 mins if the roads went straight and the motorcycles drove on the right side of the road- no fear about all of us breaking the motorcycle red rule! We arrived at the Lihat Sawah, a beautiful […]

Posted On

02/11/11

Author

Anna Porter and Julia Cole

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Dear Parents, Family and Friends,

Selamat Malam (Good Evening) from Bali! It’s a beautiful day up here in the mountains of Sideman and student orientation is in full swing! Last night, we held a beautiful opening ceremony to welcome the group and celebrate the official start of our program. This morning, after a delicious breakfast of tropical fruit and banana pancakes, the students dove right in to orientation activities. We focused on sharing our goals and fears for the program, learning basic health and safety skills and building positive group dynamics. We also began getting oriented to our host country through a rousing game of “Indonesia Jeopardy” and enjoyed our first of many nature walks. We’ve allbeen enthusiastic about sampling the local food, including chicken and pork satay, green papaya salad, mie goreng (fried noodles), gado-gado (veggies and tempeh with peanut sauce) and exotic fruits such as mangosteens and snakefruit. We’re definitely NOT going to starve to death on this trip!

Arlo, Diego and I have a GREAT feeling about this group of students.We are SO impressed with their enthusiasm for self-exploration, curiosity about all things Indonesian and commitment to creating a positive group culture. We’re also really pleased that our students are so eager to learn the language and start communicating with the locals. We’ve already covered greetings, numbers, and basic vocabulary associated with food and eating—and our language teacher hasn’t even arrived yet! Indonesian is a pretty forgiving language, so as long as the students put the effort in, they should be holding basic conversations in Indonesian in no time!

This is shaping up to be an incredible Semester. We’ll be sure to get some photos up as soon as possible and we’ll also carve out some time for the students to start posting Yaks so that you can hear about their adventures in their own words!

Be Well,

Katie

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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And so it began….

Katie Hagel,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Dear Parents, Family and Friends, Selamat Malam (Good Evening) from Bali! It’s a beautiful day up here in the mountains of Sideman and student orientation is in full swing! Last night, we held a beautiful opening ceremony to welcome the group and celebrate the official start of our program. This morning, after a delicious breakfast […]

Posted On

02/11/11

Author

Katie Hagel

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Dear Parents, Family and Friends,

They’re here!!!!

This afternoon, we arrived at the airport in Bali and eleven students (Melissa arrived last night)—looking tired, but happy and excited—walked off the plane to meet us. I can’t express how pleased we are to tell you that our students are FINALLY here and that our adventure has begun!

For the next three days, we’ll be staying in beautiful Sideman in the mountains of central Bali. Panoramic views of rice paddies and the towering massif of Bali’s highest volcano, the sacred Mount Gunung Agung, will provide an appropriately inspiring backdrop for our program orientation. Through instructor lessons, experiential activities and practical exercises, we’ll get to know each other, share our goals and fears and create a positive group culture that will support us through the joys and challenges of rugged travel in rural Indonesia. Students will learn how to keep themselves safe and healthy and they’ll also learn how to travel ethically and responsibly in order to minimize our group’s impact on the environment and local communities. Using maps and photos, we’ll walk students through our itinerary and stoke their enthusiasm for the wildly inspiring journey that lies ahead. We’ll also lay out the educational expectations for the program and commit to learning as much as we can from this country, this culture and each other. And, of course, we’ll have FUN!

Diego, Arlo, Naldo and I feel so honored to be a part of this group. It takes a special kind of person to sign on for three months of traveling and learning in the wilds of Indonesia. We salute each and every one of the students for having the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and join us in this adventure. We have a GREAT feeling about this group of students and their potential to dig deep and open themselves to the beauty and complexity of Indonesia. We also extend our gratitude to everyone who made it possible for these students to be here. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you in the weeks to come! Please stay tuned!

Sincerely,

Katie, Arlo, Diego and Naldo

Indonesia Spring 2011 Instructor Team

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Hello from the Indo Semester Group!

Katie Hagel, Arlo Pelegrin, Diego Merino and Naldo Sahuburua,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Dear Parents, Family and Friends, They’re here!!!! This afternoon, we arrived at the airport in Bali and eleven students (Melissa arrived last night)—looking tired, but happy and excited—walked off the plane to meet us. I can’t express how pleased we are to tell you that our students are FINALLY here and that our adventure has […]

Posted On

02/10/11

Author

Katie Hagel, Arlo Pelegrin, Diego Merino and Naldo Sahuburua

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Hello Friends and Family of the Indonesia Spring Semester Students!

This is just a quick note to let you know that everyone has arrived safe and sound and that the groupis settling into their guest house in Sidemen, a lovely little town just north of Ubud, surrounded by terraced rice fields and a breathtaking view of Mt. Agung.

They should beposting their first groupphoto and update shortly, but thought you might all like to know that they have arrived and are doing well!

More soon!

Jamie Woodall

IndonesiaProgram Director

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Safe Arrival in Bali

Jamie Woodall,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hello Friends and Family of the Indonesia Spring Semester Students! This is just a quick note to let you know that everyone has arrived safe and sound and that the groupis settling into their guest house in Sidemen, a lovely little town just north of Ubud, surrounded by terraced rice fields and a breathtaking view […]

Posted On

02/10/11

Author

Jamie Woodall

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    [post_content] => 

Dear IndonesiaFamilies,

After a great orientation day in Los Angelos, all of the Indonesia students set off safely on their international flight. The students had a wonderful time getting to know all of our spring Asia groups at the Hacienda Hotel and created some beautiful artwork to start off their course.

The groups will be arriving soon and their real Dragons adventure is just about to start. The instructors are excitedly waiting in country and will be posting a yak to announce the students arrival.

Thank you to all parents for your support this far and we look forward to sharing this journay with you over the next few months!

Dragons Administration

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Indonesia group is on their way!

Dragons Administration,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Dear IndonesiaFamilies, After a great orientation day in Los Angelos, all of the Indonesia students set off safely on their international flight. The students had a wonderful time getting to know all of our spring Asia groups at the Hacienda Hotel and created some beautiful artwork to start off their course. The groups will be […]

Posted On

02/9/11

Author

Dragons Administration

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    [post_date] => 2011-02-04 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Hi all,

My name is Isaac, and I'm looking forward to island-hopping with you over the next 3 months. I hope to feel right at home amongst the some 17,000archipelagicislands, as I'm from a small Island in the Northeast, Manhattan. While I hope to enjoy the the weather change and the tropical weather, I will miss the micromountains of snow formed all over my block. Indonesia to me currently exists in NYT articles and wikipedia pages I've read, National Geographic pictures I've streamed through, the occasional "Oh I was in Bali x years ago, it was amazing, can't wait to go back," and that old wrinkly man who says some supposedly wise words to Julia Roberts in the movie Eat, Pray, Love (which my 3 sisters dragged me along for - the best part was probably the close ups on food). While all of these will be stored in my unconscious as we travel through the country, I'm attempting to have as little preconceived-notions as possible and stick to the facts not allegory, while stories are fun too I know they can cloud my opinions.

Why did I choose Indonesia?

I've been around, 6 out of 7 continents (I'll get you Antarctica!), and seen many different cultures, landscapes, and peoples. Indonesia had an allure to me. It'll finish the meat of the sandwich that is South east Asia and Oceania for me, as I have traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam as well as Australia and New Zealand. I've always wondered whats in between. It shares a melding of both those regions biodiversity, as well as having the 2nd highest biodiversity in any country (after Brazil), from a botanical perspective thats pretty cool to me. I'm interested in islander lifestyle, what does it mean to have to take a boat everyday to work? How does a motley of scattered islands form a cohesive stable government, when just 12 years ago it was ruled but a ruthless military junta, under Suharto? Where does Indonesia stand today, relative to the world, relative to its neighboring countries, relative to other muslim majority nations? How has Islam shaped Indonesia and how has Islam adapted to Indonesia (ex. Morocco, berber muslims)? What does Java have to do with Kava Kava? and does Kopi Luwak coffee actually taste good?

A lot to think about, hopefully I will find some answers.

As for me I'm mid-gap-year and have already traveled and volunteered in several countries since my june graduation, from India to France, and Germany to Brazil to name a few.

Have an awesome last weekend, remember to pack, and I'll see you tuesday,

Isaac

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Nice to meet you

Isaac Steinberg,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hi all, My name is Isaac, and I’m looking forward to island-hopping with you over the next 3 months. I hope to feel right at home amongst the some 17,000archipelagicislands, as I’m from a small Island in the Northeast, Manhattan. While I hope to enjoy the the weather change and the tropical weather, I will […]

Posted On

02/4/11

Author

Isaac Steinberg

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