I have been living and growing in Indonesia for 4 months now, approaching just over half of my time here. Now, the pieces of routine and understanding are starting to fit together and I have a sense of normalisation with the feel of Jakarta.
Writing a blog post about my experience consistently proves to be more difficult than expected as I have more to say than I can articulate. Change is constant in everything, my environment, personality, knowledge and so on. Thus, I am finding it most useful to just appreciate the daily endeavours and recognize the progress over time. Change in context has been a catalyst to that of my perspective, understanding and self here in Indonesia.
A place of peace for me, oddly enough, is taking to the street and walking while observing the daily-happenings of the city. I can remain completely silent while the vibrancy, moving parts and people of Jakarta fill the atmosphere with the soundtrack to my trek, without the obligation of doing anything but putting one foot in front of the other. Though I do need to focus on those steps as the stray cats, uneven paths and street vendors keeps me on my toes.
The educational component of working, travelling and adapting has helped me use my learned skills from University and understand how they can apply in an organization. I am discovering that the contextual changes as well as work atmosphere has sparked a greater awareness of the learning that takes place when pushing on my personal comfort zones. Coming into this internship, I definitely had a perception of change and growth that would take place. Now I question if it is even possible to understand or prepare for growth as the element of surprise is the reason for it. The evolution of personal and professional all stemming from the unexpected, unknown and recognition of barriers to personal limitations. Indonesia has shocked me with the innovation and resourcefulness that people embrace and community spirit that is fostered alongside.
I feel that North America has a prevailing sense of individuality and when connected to innovation, emphasises competition and efficiency. In Indonesia, I feel a sense of support for all levels of profession and a solidarity and respect for hard-working individuals. People are riding with their whole business following on their bikes, everything needed in a compact kaki-lima (feet-five) that they need to feed customers. All streams of services available at the tap of a finger from Gojek rides, delivery, cleaning etc. Loyalty and expected business from everyone as merchants will walk the streets distributing freshly-steamed buns, corn, cassavas or ripe fruits, veggies and every special drink mixes from Jahe (Ginger), Kopi (Instant Coffee) or the traditional Jamu (herbal drink, coloured similar to turmeric). See here under “bule minum jamu” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7fS31sckCgI_-w1KA_rACQ
I have started to notice that my experiences are becoming a part of my identity, it is no longer just characteristics and actions. Additionally, experience in itself is just a means of passing through time, regardless of what I do, I will experience the world the same. Within the time that I have been in Indonesia and the time that is left, I feel that I have started to act and understand the world in a different way. Any many times it has frustrating, comical and undoubtedly challenging to step-back from myself, though it has been important. Alongside a time for reflection, has come a spirit for curiosity. I have also realised about that I should follow the lead from the do-ers, by this I mean not overthink or complicate what is already simple. If there is something that needs to be changed, do it, if there is something that I would like to achieve, take the steps to do so. Though this has been articulated many times in my head, I do let worry and logistics intervene where often things work out or come to light if only I just take the first steps. Though there is a time and a place to think and work with ideas, I have also appreciated moments of spontaneity and lessons from unexpected turns. It is odd to see myself more objectively through photos, though is interesting to see my physical presence in the context and connect it to the physical feeling of being there. Always reppin’ the high quality photography, thanks for the photos below @maeve-milligan, see more here: https://www.instagram.com/maevesmilligan/
Community and Identity. What strikes me about Indonesia is how friendly and open I find my interactions to be. By this time I feel that Maeve, the other Intern here, and I have many people we can call great friends, from work and others we have met along the way, who make up what I would relate to as my family unit in Indonesia. Our Mas Kost (Residence Host), Hadi and Leha are some people who have made an impact in my home life, bringing humour, support and opportunity to practice the language at home as well. My odd cooking habits and green accent and knowledge in Bahasa always brings a good laugh haha! In addition, the heart of my time is enriched by adventures, outings and conversations with those who I am lucky to call friends.
Whenever people ask me what I have been up to or what I am doing, often my response involves a ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ as I came to Jakarta alongside Maeve Milligan, who is doing the same internship. I think there is an uncredited appreciation that is due to having a companion when abroad – which I feel grateful for. It is not better or worse than coming alone, just a very different experience. I feel thankful for the brilliant photos or hilarious and unexpected moments, for the exemplified success demonstrated by taking action and going for what you want, for the sharing of experiences and friends along the way and for the moments of tension that have pushed me past myself into the broader picture. Sometimes vulnerability is correlated with strength, emphasising the need for action rather than acting, and the latter does better on a stage that in a friendship. Though at times it can get quite intense spending a lot of time with another person, it has been invaluable to have a friend to experience Indonesia with. Not only this, but from Maeve as well as other new friends we have made, I have really learnt a lot. One, that honesty is often better than modesty. That with further acquaintance comes a pride and awe in the knowledge and ability of others, which prompts motivation and beliefs in the expansion of capability. The lovely and brilliant Maeve pictured below – hard to capture her without a camera on!
I have come back to the saying that ‘everyone is doing the best that they can’ for empathy and space have proven to be important in maintaining relationships. Trying to spend time through obligation, where boundaries and limitations are unclear, will always be less appreciated than spending time with intention. Additionally, presence and solidarity are felt at the core, when people have made the effort to join me in my endeavours, I feel that I have people and community – which is truly invaluable. Though occasional conflicts are inevitable they are temporary moments of growth and the kindness and patience that is also inter-relational really something incredible. It has been an absolute pleasure thus far and I look forward to growing more as I learn from others.
Within my placement in the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, I have been exposed to a family of dedicated, heart-full and diverse individuals. Throughout this placement there has been an emphasis on research and office work. I have greatly come to appreciate the office solidarity in spending most days in the office and the time that is spend outside, during lunch paired with good conversation and hot cuisine. The work world varies from that of study in many ways: a concrete schedule, expectations and responsibilities outside your own and of the workplace and there can be an emphasis on quality of products rather that the learning process, though in CIPS there is a focus on both. Working in an office with fellow students, graduates, entrepreneurs and more brings an intermingling of livelihoods and perspectives to the office. Recently, the structure of our workplace has shifted from segregated departments to a flexible and agile workplace. Presenting an interesting transition, it has started to foster an environment for collaboration and interdisciplinary work, which I have felt that I was missing back in school. The head of the organisation as well as the other workers have all been moving to different floors in the office and already, I can feel an expansion to a more open and team-oriented culture. Overall, I am finding that there are many practices and mindsets applied to school that can be brought to the workplace, taking steps and connecting the two has been an overarching lesson from this placement.
If you have gotten this far, I hope you found the time that it took you to read this of use and invite you to take a minute (58secs) and check out this brilliant video created by Maeve from our day with our Kost friends, Hadi and Leha, at the zoo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E250k14HRGY&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1b–KY2yI6ameGKVEdTSNzddIBobuAHstqkYUF18BClts4LVYTUChatkY. Terima Kasih dan semoga harimu menyenangkan (‘have a nice day’ – the greeting I hear from my alarm every morning)!