Living 6 degrees off the equator really messes with your sense of time. Day after day, we get roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness year round. Sure, we have “seasons” – rainy and dry – but the light never changes. I miss those summer nights back in the American Midwest, when […]

Ceremony plays a big role in Indonesian schools – especially mine. For example, every Monday morning at 6:45 sharp, we hold “flag ceremony” for the entire staff and student body.  Students line up in formation, by class.  One by one, the class captains step up, stand at attention, and report their group’s status: “Class 10-A, […]

Over the past few weeks, I’ve fielded a lot of questions that I’ve had a hard time answering. Like, “Why did America shut down its government?” (Gee. I don’t know…because politicians often act like children?) Or, “Why didn’t President Obama visit Indonesia, as he promised?” (Because someone has to stay home and pretend to babysit […]

We call them “counterparts,” or CPs for short. They call themselves guru mitra, or partner teachers. By whatever name, they’re the local teachers with whom we Peace Corps volunteers share a classroom, and in many respects they’re the most important people in our everyday lives here. Suppose you walked into work tomorrow morning and your […]

“How do you like teaching here compared to the United States?” one of my fellow teachers, whom we call Ibu Blabbermouth, asked me. Then she proceeded to answer her own question: “The students in America are more serious, I think. No joking around. They work hard. And stupid students in America would be smart in […]

When I was walking home the other day, a guy on a passing motorcycle yelled “Hey, bule!” at me. I don’t hear that word much anymore, so it struck me like a slap upside the head. And it got me thinking some more about who I am, where I live now, and what the Peace […]

Yesterday, Indonesia celebrated Independence Day.  It was on August 17, 1945, that the archipelago officially shrugged off Dutch colonialism, and Indonesians declared themselves a nation. So, how do the festivities here compare with an old-fashioned American Fourth of July? You decide. Our holiday started off bright and early in the town square, where patriotism looks […]