Its been about a month since we all said goodbye in DC. Personally, I’m glad I was the last one to leave, because I had the entire dorm building to tear up and freak out that the program was over. Even though several days have passed since the end of the program, I’ve had a bit of a difficult time adjusting back to everyday life. I keep excepting to wake up every morning at 7 (which is what I’ve started naturally doing….thanks USIPP) and then be busy the entire day until the evening. However, this has certainly not been the case, and I’ve grown quite bored due to the recent quietness in my life.
However, the quietness hasn’t been whats bothering me the most. Its how nothing has changed back home. I grew up in a very sheltered town, where if something wasn’t white, conservative, and Christian, it was “different”. So naturally when I told people I just spent a beautiful two weeks in Indonesia, people were shocked. They ask me if I was afraid, how repressive it was, and if I was ever worried over being kidnapped by terrorists. I even had a few special snowflakes ask me if I witnessed any of the Hamas militant group in action.
At first, when I was asked questions like these, I was FURIOUS. I thought back to the six Indonesian participants I had the honor of being with, and was outraged that people assumed that they were violent and closed minded. I remember thinking “How dare you insult six of the nicest people I have ever met, let alone one of the kindest societies I have encountered”. I wanted to yell. I wanted to call everyone out for being so judgmental over something they had no knowledge about. And then I realized getting mad and raising hell wasn’t the correct way to go about other’s ignorance. Getting mad would go go against one of the biggest themes we covered on the trip: Tolerance.
Tolerance is one of the biggest life lessons I have taken away from this program. I’ve learned to be more tolerant of people’s opinions, even if they are completely different from my own. So instead of going off on an angry rant, I’ve calmly explained my experiences to people. I’ve explained what Indonesia was actually like, and several of the lessons many Americans can learn from them. Although some people didn’t believe me and thought I was brainwashed, many people seemed to take back their previous comments and rethink their opinions on Indonesia.
I’m hoping to carry on these lessons I’ve learned. I’ve been striving to be a more open person, and to show more respect towards people that have completely different viewpoints from me. More importantly, I’ve been trying to be a better host. Seriously, I don’t think I will ever be able to match the generosity and warming welcomes than the ones that we got in Indonesia. Also, the food. I don’t think I will ever be able to provide guests with the amazing amounts of delicious food, which is a shame.
Anyway, thank you so much to everyone that took the time to follow this blog. I hope that you learned at least a few valuable lessons, because the 12 of us certainly have. It meant alot knowing that there were people all over the world who actually took the time to read our ramblings from abroad.
Until the next adventure,