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HOMESTAY Grade 9 Lazuardi Junior High School

Event: HOMESTAY Grade 9 Lazuardi Junior High School
Time: 26-28 September 2018
Press Release by Maryati Hulalata:

Every part of me was screaming inside, knowing that I would be OFF THE GRID for about 2 days.” Yes, you don’t read it wrong. Mary is OFF THE GRID for 2 days. I know it seems rather melodramatic or you might say exaggerating, but what I felt was true. When I first set foot in this village, and I saw my phone screen with the X sign on it, I was frantically screaming, silently.

As a person who googles everything and check on anything online, staying in a dead zone is quite a challenge. Or so I thought.

It was a sunny day when people of the village welcomed us into their place as if we were old friends. This year homestay was situated in Purasari Village, Leuwiliang – Bogor. This annual program of Lazuardi Junior High which specially arranged for grade 9, is an incredible experience to enable the students getting to know the local people in their own home. This is the time when we can see the real Indonesian, with their genuine hospitality from the moment we arrive.

We were so delighted listening to the history of this village. Cianten, that how most people call it, is not actually the name of the village. It is a tea plantation which is managed by PTPN. The location of this village is generally hilly and mountainous around the foothills of Halimun and Salak mountain with the very cold temperature. Speaking of tea, before arriving in the village, we visited the factory and acquainted with the information of  the tea making process. The tea powder produced is already international. Impressive. Unfortunately, since this company was opened during the Dutch East Indies administration, the overall condition of the factory is very poorly maintained.

Despite the spooky vibes visiting the factory and thinking of having my days without internet, I figured how my day 1 was surprisingly carefree, full of conversations and clinking of spoon and plates as we were eating together in a circle and joining the chorus of laughters. I was having a chill and relaxing day, helping me ease the mind and definitely focus my typical-scattered thoughts.

The following day, I was up early. There was no need to set an alarm since there were plenty of roosters ready to wake us up with their hearty cockadooledoos. I munched on a simple breakfast of ‘tempe goreng’ and ‘bakwan’, sipped on hot tea in this cold morning served by our kindhearted host. As the sun rose and warmed us up, our students started their day and saw rural life up close and personal. They joined the villagers’ daily routines, mostly farming and collecting grass. Not many people get the opportunity to stay with the locals and encounter life untouched by the capitalism and commercialism. Life in the village may seem so simple, working close to the earth, but wait, what’s coming next was definitely a whole new experience for them.

Our journey to the rice field was a real deal, we strolled the narrow lane together, hitchhiking and enjoying the fresh air and the indigenous nature as we file past, walking up a hill and descending into the muddy soil on a slightly steep dirt path along the way.  The path was mountain slopes covered with bushes and towering trees and after an hour of struggle, we finally arrived. The kids helped their homestay parents farming, getting into muddy rice field. Through this experience, the kids would understand how much effort is carried out to transform it from a plant to the food on our plate everyday. Before we head off to the village, we sat in front of the hut in the middle of the ricefield, eating on the banana leaf. I was absolutely blown away by this entire peace and tranquil moment. The food was great, but it was the whole new experience that made the meal so incredibly unforgettable.

Going back to the village, we rushed to prepare the peak event of this homestay program. There were several activities we organized to serve the community, such as; cleaning the mosque, setting up a new library for the nearest school, teaching kids nearby, games and music performance alongside with the BAZAAR SALE which offered a great selection of clothing and other things at cheap prices. The latest was located in the soil-based soccer field by the road side. The crowd was so exhilarated to participate, everyone was remarkably happy. All students and teachers were hand in hand helping to succeed the event, no one looked exasperated or tired. This is a compelling proof how giving and helping others are powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. The more we give, the more meaningful life we gain, the happier we become.

Again, my day 2 was worth spent even without the internet.

Friday, 28 September, was the last day of our adventure. The homestay went so quick, and I remembered how worried I was on the first day of our arrival, worried of how the kids would fit into a completely new different life. How they slept, the food they ate and especially the bathroom. But, I wanted to tell them myself, “You guys must be proud of yourself!!”, the kids had successfully accomplished the targets, learnt a lot of valuable things, adapted to a new culture and able to connect with the inhabitants of the village, and more importantly grew their personal emotional well-being.

I looked at the faces around me for the last time that I knew I might not see them again and savored the memory forever. I am beyond grateful for the generosity, hospitality they showed to us during the time we were there. This experience was hopefully a priceless learning process not only for the students but also for the teachers involved, which allows us to take on new perspectives of life.  The real life.

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