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Letting Go of Technology – And Embracing Indonesia
By Angelina, YES Abroad 2018-19, Indonesia
A few months ago, when I was still fairly new in my host community, I was invited on my school’s annual trip to a neighboring village. I was excited about the prospect of seeing a new side of Indonesia, but I was so busy adjusting to my host family and new friends that I didn’t put much thought into it. Then, a week before the trip was going to start, I learned that there would be no cell service the entire time we were gone. To be honest, this terrified me a bit. I am so used to having cell service or WiFi in the U.S. and typically have coverage in my host city in Indonesia, and I consider my phone to be a big part of my life.
Well, as it turns out, my fears were totally unfounded! It was a simple change, but I found that I was more present in my surroundings simply because I didn’t have the constant distractions of my phone. I didn’t have to worry about snapping pictures, updating my social media, or replying to any texts, and I didn’t end up scrolling aimlessly, either.
When I was in the village with my classmates without access to WiFi, I was able to get to know them much better and practice my Bahasa Indonesia skills. Even though my language skills are still pretty basic, I feel comfortable expressing my basic needs and wants and describing actions, which feels like a great accomplishment.
There were so many things for us to do while we were away – and they were definitely things that I couldn’t have done if I had stayed in my home community in New Mexico this year! We got the opportunity to stay with local people and experience what their lives are like, including visiting the marketplace where they sold clothes and staple foods to their fellow village residents. I even had the chance to try fresh coconut, fly paper lanterns, and ride in a boat down a beautiful river.
I am thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip with my school and to the village and its people for kindly accepting us. I’m also so thankful for my friends for helping make this a truly unforgettable experience – and definitely not terrifying at all to be away from my smart phone for a bit!