Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Receive Unconditional Love

That's what "thank you," or "terima kasih," actually means in bahasa Indonesia. It's how I feel about Indonesia, a stunningly beautiful country with a big heart. I cherish my six months there as a time not just of personal growth, but also reconnection with my roots.

I have left Jakarta and returned to DC, where I immediately jumped into my current job. I have much more to write, but have been too busy living life that I haven't had time to write about it. I'm hoping to get a post on Aceh up soon!

The flight home was long, and when I ran out of decent movies to watch (I draw the line at Ashton Kutcher RomComs), I took some time to reflect on my experience in Indonesia. It was a whirlwind, and was hard to process...by the end, I examined it by the numbers. Here's what I came up with:

Months in Indonesia: 6
Jobs in Indonesia: 2 (State and USAID)
Presidents met: 1 (President Obama)
Famous people I met: 2 (Secretary Clinton and CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim)
Value of international negotiations assisted: $28.5 million (Tropical Forest Conservation Act)
Trips for work: 2 (Bali for the President's visit, Aceh to visit a maternal and child health project)
Number of times I was mistaken for an Indonesian in meetings or events: 30+
Hours of classroom Bahasa Indonesia training: 19
Meetings conducted in Bahasa Indonesia that I participated in without a translator: 6 (I'm pretty proud that I basically understood what was going on)

Number of weekends spent in Jakarta: 5
Number of Indonesian areas visited: 12 (Aceh, Jogjakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Pelabuhan Ratu, Pulau Seribu, Bali, Lombok, Gili Islands, Komodo National Park, Manado, Tanjung Puting Park)
Animals with whom I had a close encounter: 13 (Orangutan, slow loris, elephants, tiger, white tiger, lion, kangaroo, wallaby, sea turtle, macaques, clouded leopard, stingray, jellyfish, plus probably 100+ kinds of fish when diving)
Weird food eaten: 3 (bat, dog, giant squid egg) (the squid egg was the worst)
Countries visited: 6 (Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and U.S. for training)
Things crossed off bucket list: 8 (See Borobudur; get dive-certified; learn to surf; visit my mother's village; see my grandfather's grave; communicate directly with my grandmother; work for USAID, visit Aceh)
Friends and family visited: 8
Friends who visited me: 6
Times eaten at warung (food stalls), roadside restaurants, and other places with questionable cleanliness: ~90 times
Times have gotten food poisoning from eating at those establishments: 0
Times have gotten food poisoning from Malaysia Airlines: 1
Crossfit sessions per week: 3 (average...had to keep the fried rice weight off!)
Road races run: 3 (the 10k on Sudirman was the worst)
Massages: ~18
Dresses made: 4
Forms of transport taken: 10 (Plane, car, taxi, boat, speedboat, bajaj, motorcycle, donkey cart, elephant, surfboard)
Times I have had to explain that I am not actually Indonesian to very confused people: Countless

1 comment:

  1. Hi Morgan,

    I am a Producer on the US travel show House Hunters International. I found your blog when looking for expats who might be interested in being a part of the show, I hope you don't mind me contacting you?

    I'm not sure if you are now back in DC but I thought I would reach out to see if you or anyone you know have recently moved abroad and might be interested in taking part in House Hunters International?! Ideally they should be outgoing and fun, aged under 45 and have bought a property within the last few years or are renting a property.

    House Hunters International is a half-hour TV show currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America. The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying / renting process, by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where expats and their real estate agents tour 3 homes. At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.

    Here are some examples of the show that you can watch on Youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reYI3L3lC-c - Barcelona from LA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOiump3__Mo - Vienna from California
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tblIVLw0coE – Panama from Pennsylvania

    Please do get in touch if you or anyone you know may be interested in the show.

    Best wishes,


    Michelle James
    1-3 St Peter's Street, London N1 8JD - +44 20 7704 3300