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Archive for January, 2011

High school students’ views in Bali

I interviewed a group of around 20 students in a provate school where they learn in Indonesian and English, mostly mixed backgrounds, a few European background, all bright. I asked what they’d like adults to think about: (boys) corruption like police take bribes especially from non-Indonesians, punishment for pot shouldn’t be 10 years in jail, and business development should be encouraged. The girls said more money for education, enabling the disabled to go to school, corruption, poverty, and by the 21st c. we shouldn’t have to deal with racism and sexism.

They think their parents are less strict than their grandparents. With the Internet, kids see things their parents don’t know. Indonesians show more respect to elders, use more formal language with them than with peers (this is also true of caste; the sudras speak a less formal language than Brahmins)

Bali -2-

The snorkeling on Menjamban Island was thrilling, an abundance of fish of all colors and sizes, glimpses of octapi, warm clear water. Took a boat over with our guide Kaduk. Everyone has the same four names depending on birth order; #5 starts over at Wyan. Teachers refer to last names or nick names. I asked kaduk to show us his home. I have photos, but it’s a cement block with no windows, just doors. They sleep on foam mats on the floor, Kaduk, his wife and 2 little kids in one room, his parents in another, and his sister in another. His 100 year old grandmother stays on a cot in her own dwelling next to theirs. He is the sole support, guiding snorkelers and divers. A sweetheart, his parents could only send him to school to 6th grade. We’re planning a Bali photo fundraiser for his family. He was very good with his kids, patient and loving. I gave him a book in English and money for a dictionary to get him started because knowing English is the ticket to earning more by working with tourists.

Stopped at a middle school, taped a 14-year-old talking about the importance of the environment, which was gratifing after the ignorance of the primary school students I talked with.

Went snorkeling on Lembongan Island on the other side, about 7,000 people. I asked if everyone knew each other–if you’re friendly. Asked about the barjons, the community association. They’re important in villages. A man told me if you don’t participate, no one will come to your events–birthdays, funerals etc. People harvest and dry seeweed so you see beds of them on the beach in various states of drying.

Costs are low, we got a massage for about $11, great fish dinners for about $5. Overall impression is the Balinese are relaxed, happy, friendly, have social support.


Photos of Bali, Singapore, and Shanghai www.flickr.com/photos/globalyouthspeakout/
Go to sets.

Bali was influenced by Indian traders in the 7th century to become the only Hindu island in Indonesia, including caste. The people are warm, smile a lot, have a lot of soul. We landed in the south, where all the Aussie and American tourists go to surf and party. Lots of scooters and loud music. Got a lovely $20 massage, drove through Dempesar, the big city. Every home compound has multiple shrines and daily offerings of flowers in little bamboo baskets, lovely reminder of tuning in to the divine. Personal space is different; we went to the city market and a woman came up to us to sell us jewlry, commenting on our bodies. We drove north through the rice fields, kept green with frequent rain. I was told it rained every day last year, even during the supposed dry season. Oh climate change.

Our retreat center was in the central mountain area near a small village. They served us red rice, veggies, tofu and tempe and occasional chicken. A few times fried bananas for desert. Wonderful fresh fruit for breakfast. The retreat started with meditation at 7, and yoga at 10. We took a trip to a hot springs, saw the rice fields worked by man and a water buffalo, the rice winowed by hand. Walked around the village being greeted with “hallo.” One old woman touched the breast of one of the women in our group two different times, smiled. Different sense of personal space.

I visited the local school and asked them questions which the English teacher translated. Their parents are rice farmers but none of the two classes want to farm when they grow up. They mentioned jobs like teacher (guru), doctor, and the boys mentioned police. What bothers them is the narrow roads (built by the Dutch colonialists) and the accidents caused by all the scooters and trucks. I asked if a woman could do a good job as head of Indonesia and they said yes, of course, there’s no difference. The kids in the elementary school didn’t know the concept of global warming, but the middle school students did. I was able to talk with some of the English students directly. A girl, 14, said she’d like to be a business woman to make money to help combat global warming.

People are much more communal and less individualist than Americans. Everyone belongs to an association–for girls, boys, men and women. The major decisions are made by the men of the local bajong, planning important temple festivals, etc. People live with extended family in compounds with shrines for daily offerings. The one I visited belong to the English teacher. She and her husband have a small room with a wardrobe, and their two sons share the room next door with a TV. Another structure is for studying. The biggest one is for guests and to house a dead person before cremation. They had a washing machine, a squat toilet and outdoor shower room next door. Lots of trash around–something the kids complained about. The Javanese come and buy some of the used water bottles but a lot of trash gets burned. Something good is the village where we stayed has no caste, the caste of human I was told.

Now we’re on the NW coast to snorkel. I went in the bay by the hotel but got stung by invisible little jelly fish so it wasn’t a primo experience. Tomorrow we take a boat to the island nature reserve. Lots of German tourists here. Little bungalows with the typical outdoor shower and ferns.

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