It’s all in a name

My community wants nothing more than for me to be fluent in Bahasa Indonesia. Like, now. Not one year from now, not before I leave Indonesia to return to America, now. They know I spend at least five hours every day training with other Peace Corps volunteers on language skills; but when I get home, they’re ready to test me and teach me some more.

It’s fun really, but also exhausting and generally confusing.

On most nights after dinner, I bring my notebook outside and sit on the front porch making small talk with neighbors and family members and writing down words they think I should know; which is how I learned the translation of my name into Bahasa Indonesia: egg eyebrow.

I really can’t make this stuff up.

My name, which was chosen by my mother to resemble Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful and iconic women of all time (nothing to live up to there, thanks, mom) sounds like egg eyebrow to my new friends and neighbors.

Telor — egg

Alis — eyebrow

Nothing like small children running around calling you an egg to make you feel extra humble in a foreign country.


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