Indonesian weddings, or pernikahan Indonesia, are interesting affairs. They occur over as many as five days and have several different stages of events. Some portions of Indonesian weddings resemble our American concept of what a wedding is, and many do not. As I tried to explain in Budaya Campur, culture here is complicated, layered, and diverse. Indonesian weddings, and Javanese in particular, are no exception.
What started as an attempt to write about Indonesian cultural events has evolved through many different forms over the past few weeks. Realizing it would be impossible to sufficiently cover the three main types of selamatans (celebrations for weddings, funerals and births) I decided to narrow the focus to weddings only. Surely a single type of event would provide substantial interesting material while simultaneously being easy to encapsulate in a few hundred words.
Well even this more focused task proved too complicated as I spent the majority of time trying to explain the origins of the major wedding traditions. A big problem is that Javanese weddings can have a lot of variation, too much variation to apply a simple generic explanation. To solve the problem I switched from weddings to traditional Javanese culture and the external influences they have adopted over the years. Maybe this iteration was a step up in difficulty as my goal was nothing short of disentangling one-thousand years of culture from foreign influences. Then it is not surprising to learn that I have fallen terrifically short of my previous goals.
On the eighth, and end of the seventh, week of pre service training we taught at a middle school for eight days. We returned to the same middle school we taught at for our first week of practicum on Friday May 13th and worked at the school until Saturday May 21st on all days except the 15th. I still taught with my teaching partner from the first week of practicum, Sonam, and we continued working with our counterpart from the first week.
In Indonesia every Peace Corps volunteer lives with a host family. Originally, before I came to Indonesia, I wasn’t too thrilled with this prospect. I appreciate autonomy and independence. The challenge of inserting myself into a family as an absolute foreigner and trying to find a balance between two very different cultures seemed like something I didn’t want to go through. Now, however, I could not imagine living in Indonesia without a host family. It has been one of the best parts of my time in the Peace Corps thus far.
Continue reading “Community”
Today was our Language Proficiency Interview, or LPI for short. Every volunteer has an interview at the start and close of their service. The first interview happens near the end of PST and is to gauge each volunteer’s skill with using their primary language and to see if they are ready to start learning a secondary language. In order to be sworn in one must complete the interview with a level of at least intermediate low. The LPI that volunteers have at the close of their service is to gauge how much they have learned over the previous two years.
The seventh week of PST ended with trainees from each village putting together an “English Camp” for area children to become exposed to English and foster an interest in the subject. This would be perhaps the most freeform teaching activity we would undertake during training. In order to organize this event we were supposed to perform a needs assessment to determine the age of kids we should focus on, what shape our instruction would take and what time would work for the largest segment of our target audience.
The seventh week of pre service training focused on getting trainees teaching students in a classroom without the counstraints of working in a school or with a counterpart. For four days each trainee worked with another trainee to teach two 90 minute lessons. One lesson for SMP students and one lesson for SMA students. Our partners were the same as practicum teaching, so I worked with Sonam.