Saat Februari–Bandung, Bahasa, MAN Fair
The shortest month became the longest. What happened?
End of January and Early February:
I traveled to the Pusat Volkonologi dan Geologi Mitigasi Bencana (CVGHM, Center for Volcanology and Geologic Hazards Mitigation) headquarters in Bandung, West Java. It took me seven hours to travel from my site to Surabaya and another thirteen hours by train from Surabaya to Bandung. On the return trip, I spent thirteen hours on a train from Bandung to another volunteer’s site in Madiun, four hours on a bus to Surabaya, and another seven hours back to my site. This means that I probably spent more time in transit across 800 km of Java than the USGS staff that I met in Bandung spent in transit from Portland, Oregon. Good thing I like the trains.
USGS was in Bandung for two weeks to train Indonesia’s technicians how to build and maintain analog radio equipment for relaying seismic data from instrument to post. The USGS folk I met up with do this work all over the world, and they all said that Indonesia was one of their favorite places to work. The people are friendly and motivated. It made me thankful to be here.
Along the lines of volcanology, but as an aside to the trip to Bandung, I put together a short write up about the geology, eruptive history, agricultural health issues, and tourism in regards to Kawah Ijen. Kawah Ijen is a volcanically active crater lake to the northwest of my site. It is regarded as the world’s “largest collection of acidic waters.” There is much more information on my Kawah Ijen page, but I want to add a plug for the documentary Workingman’s Death in this post. The documentary consists of four chapters, each of which highlights one ridiculous job in a different part of the world. Kawah Ijen is Chapter Three: Ghosts. The documentary was aired as episodes by Aljazeera, and the broadcast company has made them freely available on their website and YouTube page (links above). I recommend each twenty minute episode.
Middle of February:
Six Volunteers and myself organized an intensive language course to continue our studies of Bahasa Indonesia. We spent four days at a central site and spent a good twenty five hours going over the finer points of Bahasa Indonesia’s grammar with a teacher from Wisma Bahasa, the same organization Peace Corps uses for the PST language courses. I learned that I make a lot of grammatical mistakes in this “simple” language.
In addition to the grammar lessons, the course conveniently came during the aftermath of two Early Terminations that had sort of rocked the collective mood of ID-5. The wave of mutilation has continued with another two Volunteers deciding to head home, but service goes on for the rest of us. There is a lot to look forward to in the coming months.
End of February:
My school did not have class for the last week of February in order to host the “MAN Fair.” MAN Fair is a sort of bizarre aimed at student recruitment by hosting all of the SMPs (junior high schools) for the festival. There was an Arabic Speech Contest, an Indonesian Speech Contest, and an English Story Reading Contest. The highlight of the English contest was an SMP student yelling “IT’S BULLSHIT” in the middle of her Goldilocks-esque Indonesian fairy-tale—you gotta love blind trust of the internet and rote memorization of pronunciation in public speeches.
The best part of MAN Fair was the stands. Each class of tenth and eleventh graders, there are eighteen in all, built a small warung (food stall) and sold traditional foods of their choice. Each booth was about six by six meters, so I spent the better part of three days cramming myself into close quarters with my students and trying new foods. They were the most effective three days of getting to know my students since I’ve been here.