I think I’ve made it clear that Indonesia is a crazy and somewhat terrifying place. Between the noise and harassment, it can be hard to love Indonesia as a whole, and I sometimes find myself making negative, general statements about “Indonesia.”
In reality, I have grown as a person in the past two years of living in Cinyasag than all of my previous 23 years combined (maybe, there’s no scientific evidence, but using a mandi is harder than it looks.)
I find myself in those rare quiet moments at home thanking a higher being a lot more frequently than I ever did back in the U.S. I am in no traditional way religious, but for some reason I find myself whispering a thank you far more frequently on this side of the world.
Perhaps it’s observing the constant Muslim prayers around me or the much more abundant close calls, but I seem to have simply grown more appreciative in the past twenty-seven months.
I’ve found that every physical English novel I come across, I treasure as they are so much more rare here. Every sip of a good, french pressed cup of coffee is savored for the simple fast that it didn’t come out of a plastic packet. Each time I arrive at a hotel in the city, I emerge from a steaming hot shower announcing that it was “the best shower of my life” because after weeks of cold bucket baths, it truly feels that way.
As daily conversation in my village tends to be infrequent, I chase after and cling to my talkative students and jump at the chance to spend time not sitting around.
I love it when people call. More than ever before, I call friends and family to check in and chat and absolutely love it when they call me.
Care packages have made me cry. A simple Oreo or ice cream bar will be nibbled slowly, savored.
If someone hugs me, they are my favorite person forever and ever and I probably hold on too long, because human connection is so infrequent. When my host mom pats my arm as she walks past or rests her hand on my leg while watching tv, I can feel my heart grow warm.
Even a simple, cool, non-smokey breeze brings a smile to my face. Some of my happiest moments have been sitting quietly at my school desk with a cup of coffee when a clean breeze blows through. It’s something I absolutely took for granted once upon a time and now cherish.
I know how blessed I am to be here. To be teaching at a school that has welcomed me, to be teaching kids with motivation and character, to be with a family who includes me.
I know I am lucky to be living out my dream, a dream I’ve worked toward since junior high. I am lucky to have love coming at me from all across the world and am so grateful for the people I have had by my side throughout this Peace Corps journey.
I’ve found this developed sense of appreciation while serving in Indonesia, but I hope it’s something I remember when I head back to the land of Starbucks and designer bags. I hope that I stay grounded and remember how absolutely fortunate I am for every person, book, breeze, and cup of coffee I have in my life.
No matter where I go.