Fitting in at Aceh

By Blake, Voluntourist, IHF Aceh

It’s my first week in Banda Aceh and I’ve already met so many amazing people and learned so many new things. I’ve traveled and lived in Indonesia before but Banda Aceh is different to anywhere else I’ve been. The locals here are by far the most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered.

The kids are also great and are always excited to see the expats from IHF. They follow you everywhere and jump all over you, and their curiosity amazes me. There’s this one kid who translates topics in to English for explanation and discussion. No kidding, one of the questions is “should privatising social institutions in Indonesia be banned and what would be the political repercussions”. Nice.

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 4.10.51 PMI didn’t come here with any misconceptions about understanding the local culture, though I never thought I’d learn as much as I have already. Although we are educating the children and the community we are also developing, adapting and contextualising content to be both culturally sensitive and appropriate. This process of two-way learning is in a perpetual state of change and although it enhances tran-scultural communication and understanding, more importantly it reflects IHF’s values of non-political/religious education. This is achieved by working with the community to identify needs and strategies rather than imposing Euro-centric values and beliefs inherent in our educational institutions. Scientific rationalism, for example, can be imposing on religious beliefs.

Also, the waves are absolutely pumping and the Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) are the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’m got burnt the other day from all the surfing and I’ve had kids call me ‘bule bakar’ (pronounced ‘booleh bakar) which means white man BBQ – haha. It’s going to be extremely hard to return home!

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