Last night at 11pm we left Taman. Just as when we arrived, we were sent off after an impromptu sing-along (of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”). Although I am excited to return to my family and friends and Haverford, leaving was really painful. In the 7 weeks I’ve lived at Taman, I have felt accepted into the community in ways I could not have fathomed. In addition to opening their homes to us, they have opened their lives to us as well. From being invited to go with the Ibus to pick up the priest for a wedding, to being asked to attend and participate in a family member’s cremation ceremony, to being taught to make offerings (even if you’re kind of clumsy and mess up most of the times, like I did), to sharing stories about our lives, our pasts, and our hopes for the future, I have gained an incredible Balinese family.
I know I will keep in touch with the friends I’ve made (via facebook, email, skype), and for that, I am incredibly grateful. It’s surreal to think about how accessible someone on the other side of the world is via the internet, and yet how far they are simultaneously. The time difference, distance and socioeconomic privilege and access remain discouraging. I am aware of how fortunate I am to have had an opportunity to spend the summer in Indonesia: my citizenship has proved to be invaluable cultural currency (most of the time), and the opportunities afforded to me by support from The CPGC, Haverford, and my family serve as reminders of how lucky I am to live where and when I do. My gratitude is unending, both to those in the US who made this summer possible, as well as everyone I met in Indonesia for their incredible warmth and hospitality. I am simultaneously saddened by these privileges, because they are, at times, arbitrary and unfair. Yes, I work hard, but so do the boys at Taman. Why am I afforded such an opportunity while they can’t get a visa to visit the US?
I *hope* I will be able to return to Indonesia over December break to do more thesis research and to see everyone again. I’ve worked with many amazing people, and want to continue that work in the future. I have learned an incredible amount about Indonesia, myself, and life. That sounds so clichéd, but, sitting here in the TaiPei airport, on 5 hours of sleep, it’s the best I can do. And I truly mean it.
Although I’m no longer in Indonesia, I might do a few more posts in the upcoming weeks to help myself work through some of my experiences. I look forward to speaking with everyone in person and continuing to think through this summer both in academic and social settings.