My choice to become a volunteer with the International Humanity Foundation in Jakarta was a bold one. It was a choice that was well out of my comfort zone. Not only have I never been to Indonesia before, but I also knew very little about the country. However, that did not stop me, before I knew it I was on an airplane there, with just a little information. My first exposure to this unknown land is an image that is carved inside my mind, there was a fire-like sunset glow and silhouetted houses hovering below as we began to approach touchdown. This image intrigued me and made me even more excited for my two weeks at the Jakarta centre. At first, I feared, that those two weeks might not be enough time to take in all this beauty, but then I remembered that no time is ever too little. These two weeks I needed to make the most of them.
I arrived in the night, welcomed by the powerful heat. Who knew that the heat would be the most challenging part of my volunteer experience? One might compare waking up in the morning with such intense heat like being trapped in a sauna for an entire night. Although it is not so bad, as each day passed my tolerance to the heat became stronger. I was adapting to the environment slowly but surely.
I soon came to learn that the heat is a central characteristic of every aspect of Southeast Asian culture. Especially, their food, no dish ever leaves the kitchen without a kick of spice. A tip for all of you that are planning or about to embark on your trip to Indonesia, when a local tells you that it is going to spicy, they mean spicy. This in itself was an entirely new experience for me, but I must say that there was hardly a dish that I did not enjoy. I was exposed to many new foods and spices that I did not even know existed. My favourite dish I would have to say was nasi goreng; this is a very famous Indonesian dish that is a staple of their diet. If you have never had the chance to taste nasi goreng, you are missing out. I must also mention that the drinks found on the streets are very sugary but tasty. I am not sure if the sugar gives more energy to the people to withstand the heat; however, they sure seem to enjoy it.
Sugary drinks or not, the locals here in Jakarta are so very nice. People that you pass on the street greet you with their biggest smile. Upon first arriving, I feared that my lack of proficiency in English and my accent might be a hindrance to my over all experience, but was I ever wrong. I think that most people will and have faced this fear of communication; however, I will tell you first hand that there is no need to worry. Kindness is felt everywhere you go, without needing to speak a single word. The Jakarta center is a realm where adults and kids are able to show their true heart to one another. Everyone is so warm-hearted and makes you feel as though you are at home. The International Humanity Foundation in Jakarta is not solely an organization, but one large family. Although it has only been one week since I arrived at the centre, I have already taken in and experienced so much. I am really looking forward to what the rest of my stay will bring.