It’s that time in my service. Time when I write a reflective piece about how I’ve been in Indonesia for a year but still have one year to go. I’ve been putting this off for a while because I was not sure what there is to reflect upon; but this past weekend the new group of volunteers (ID11) visited their permanent sites and hearing about them making that trip provided some perspective on this topic.
I’ve been in Indonesia for one year now, and I have become pretty good at doing things the “Indonesian way.” Indonesian culture can be quite different from American culture so, for the people who don’t have a year to figure out how to blend in, here are a few tips on how to act like an Indonesian.
Frequently people will, when speaking about learning the Indonesian language, claim it is a very simple and easy language. While Indonesian lacks anything similar to the abstruse grammatical rules so frequently found throughout English, it is still just as difficult a language to master as any other.
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 first several days with my homestay family were particularly difficult. I couldn’t understand anything my ibu said and very little of what my bapak said. No one spoke to me in English so I had to rely on only two days of training in bahasa Indonesia. During my first week of PST limited communication with my homestay family was only a small part of the my vast collection of fledgling Peace Corps trainee woes.