As the second year of my service begins I have made a goal to visit as many other volunteers’ sites as I can during my free time. So far some of my best memories (but also quite a few bad ones, too) have been while traveling around Java so I’m trying to see as much of it as I can this last year.
I made a trip to Kediri to help facilitate some training sessions for the new class of volunteers last month and afterwards I had a few days before I needed to be back at site so I decided to make a trip out to Madura to see the “mom and dad” of my cohort, Rachel and Evan.
Rachel and Evan live on Madura, a small island in the northeastern corner of Java. Currently there are a handful of volunteers on Madura but once the ID9 cohort leaves in June Madura will be home to only three volunteers. They may be far away from many other volunteers but their site is not rural.
They live in a decently sized city with many amenities. Rachel is about a five-minute walk away from her school and Evan bikes a few kilometers to get to his school, which is fairly easy as Madura only has two hills.
Their family is pleasant and provides them with plenty of space to do their own thing but they are also quite friendly and hospitable. The biggest downside I can think of regarding their living situation is that they have an array of speakers on a small tower sitting in their front yard. The speakers blare the call to prayer five times a day. I don’t know if I have ever heard a louder call to prayer than the one I heard on my first morning visiting their site.
Unfortunately, because I was visiting on the weekend I didn’t have an opportunity to observe either Evan or Rachel teach. But they’re both experienced English teachers who taught in South Korea for several years before joining Peace Corps so I’m sure they are fantastic in the classroom. In fact, there have been a couple instances when I have been in the middle of a class and have texted Rachel for teaching advice.
I intend to write about all the site visit trips I make but since this was my first one I wasn’t quite sure how I would format it into a compelling narrative. And now, as I’m trying to write, I find it hard to explain life at someone’s site beyond some basic facts about their living arrangements. So the remainder of this post will be pictures documenting some of the sights we saw, the things we did, and how much fun we had.
Presented below, in chronological order, my trip to Madura.
The photos above do a decent job capturing some of the fun and interesting times Rachel, Evan, and I shared but my favorite part of the trip was much harder to capture on camera: the conversations. Most of our time was spent just sitting around chatting about the topic du jour. Peace Corps (of course), religion, politics, the American south (Rachel is from North Carolina), the incoming class of volunteers, traveling, Korea, blogging/vlogging, and so much more was on the table.
My trip to Madura would’ve been interesting no matter what, but Evan and Rachel made it spectacular.