“An Empty House”

June 16th, 2011

 This morning the Indonesian students began their journey to the United States.  We will be reuniting with them again on June 18, 2011 at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to continue the program.  All of the Indonesian students were up early tying up any loose ends that still remained such as returning extra clothing to their boarding rooms, throwing last-minute items into their luggage, and saying goodbye to family and friends.  When I walked downstairs this morning, the kitchen and living room was full of the pure excitement and joy that was radiating from the Indonesian students.  All four students were bursting with anticipation for their arrival in the United States.  I couldn’t be more excited for all of them and I am looking forward to helping them experience the United States.  Over the past 10 days, I have been a constant stream of questions for my Indonesian friends and luckily they have been patient with me, answering all of my questions concerning Indonesian culture, politics, and religion.  I am hoping that I will be able to be the wonderful resource that they have been to me.

            Seeing the excitement and eagerness of the Indonesian students also made me realize how grateful I am to live in the United States.  For these students, going to the United States is an incredible experience.  I remember Fira saying last night that if you had told her a year ago she would be going to the United States, she would not have believed you.  (Granted, I feel the same way about Indonesia.)  It makes me realize how many people dream of visiting the United States of America.  ( I realize I am running the risk of sounding pompous right now, but I mean all of what I am saying in the most honest and sincere way.)  Everyday, I wake up in the United States and I go about my daily business, whether that is going to class, visiting a friend, or running an errand.  I think that many Americans, myself included, take for granted our country and what the United States of America provides for us on a daily basis.  I have incredible opportunities and freedoms such as my education or my freedom to speak up for what I believe in merely, because I was born in this country.   We get so wrapped up in the negativity of the media and petty little things of life that we forget what our founding fathers have created for us.  We forget the freedoms that we have and that there are people in the world that would change places with an American in a heartbeat.  Next time I want to complain about the United States, I want to check myself and realize that I am incredibly blessed to live in my country.

            After the Indonesian students left for the airport, the entire house seemed vacant.  Fulvia wandered into my room thirty-five minutes later and said “I don’t like being in my room, it seems so empty without the Indonesians.”  I couldn’t agree with her more, without the Indonesian students the house felt desolate.  It is startling to think that only 12 days ago, we all met.  After spending twenty four hours a day together, we have become one entity.  We have eaten all of our meals together, traveled everywhere together, and spent pretty much every waking moment together for the past 12 days.  After that type of constant interaction, you cannot help but feel the bond that has formed.  Even though all of us come from different backgrounds and cultures, we have been able to bridge the gap and form genuine friendships.

Eventually, we decided that we couldn’t stay in the house any longer and went shopping for last minute souvenirs in downtown Yogya.  When we had finished picking up the last minute items, we decided to go a beach near Parangtritis along the southern shore of Java.  This was absolutely gorgeous and a marvelous way to end our last day in Yogya.  We arrived around three thirty p.m.  and stayed just past sunset.  Although, we could not swim due to a very strong undercurrent, it was lovely to relax on the beach for a few hours.   I would say watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean in Indonesia is a pretty fantastic way to end a terrific phase of this trip.

Selamat Tidur (Good Night!),

~Anne Marie

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