If there is one thing I miss about America, it’s the NBA and American sports in general. Every morning Colin, Alex and I check ESPN and Grantland just to keep up with everything sports wise that’s been going on in the States. I’m a big Oklahoma City Thunder fan, so I’m a little nervous right now about the NBA Finals. My Mom has been keeping me updated with emails detailing her emotions during the last two minutes of the games. Oh the drama of the NBA! But enough about American Sports! Colin and I played basketball with some locals a few hours ago, and I’d say we faired pretty well. For the first time in my life I was one of the bigger guys on the court and I actually made a couple of jumpers and a layup (shocking, I know). Colin’s ball handling skills reminded me of a young Steve Nash. We made some new friends, including Rio and another guy whose name I could not remember, but I just called him Shaq because he was wearing a full Shaquille O’Neal Lakers Jersey, shorts included! Colin has also been playing soccer every few days with a local team.
A really great aspect of playing basketball with the locals is that I get to practice my Bahasa. I am still definitely struggling to hold a full conversation in Bahasa but I can make small talk about where I am from and what I am doing in Indonesia. I have embarrassed myself a couple times. It is very easy to confuse the numbers here. I definitely feel inadequate when I make simple mistakes in a foreign language, but I am here to make mistakes. The best way to get better is to practice speaking with native speakers, so I am going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Today we had our first day of class with Professor Leslie Dwyer. Leslie is a former Haverford Anthropology Professor and now teaches at George Mason University. We are going to spend the next month learning how to do fieldwork research with her, and also conduct a field study on a topic yet to be determined. The idea of this month is to learn field research methodologies so that when we join with our NGOs we will be able to conduct an independent study of our own. While we are studying with Leslie we will also be delving deeper into Indonesian culture, history, and politics. Over the next month we will attend a number of lectures about Indonesia, and also continue to explore the city of Jogja. Our next big adventure is coming up this Wednesday. We are going to the opening of the annual Jogja Arts Festival on Malioboro Street. I am looking forward to seeing some awesome Batik designs, but I don’t really know what to expect, so it should be an exciting experience.
Alia’s post about being a Filipino in America really captures how people throughout the world often make snap judgments based on appearance. Skin color and race relations really are significant issues everywhere. Our time in Indonesia has helped me reflect on my own experiences in America. What type of snap judgments do I make about the people I meet everyday at home? I wonder if I will notice them when I return to the states, or are my own biases so deeply ingrained in my mind that it will be impossible to realize them?
Over this past weekend we went to an awesome self-sustainable organic farm in the mountains surrounding Jogja as well as a beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean. Stay tuned for a blog post from Alex about it! We also met our Indonesian research partners. They seem really great, and we are still getting to know each other. They know a fair amount of English, but we still have to break through a lot of language and cultural barriers together. It’s going to be quite challenging, but I think it’s going to be a really fun and rewarding process. The past two weeks we have spent a lot of time studying Bahasa and viewing Indonesia as tourists, but I think the opportunity to interact with Indonesian peers on a consistent basis will really allow us to immerse ourselves in Indonesian culture!
As always, there is so much more to write about, but it is getting pretty late and I am off to bed. Selamat tidur!