Sunday, May 19, 2013

Local Pre-Departure Orientation

Today I had a local Pre-Departure Orientation. This local PDO was for all AFS kids in the area who would be going abroad next year. I'm going to be totally honest, it was boring. Upon my arrival, I immediately scoped out Eleanor, (Thailand,) who is from Helena. We were roommates at the IPSE so it was so great to see her again! I actually saw some familiar faces from my school who I had no idea were going to be going abroad. Anyway. The PDO consisted of talking about culture shock, expectations of the program, and safety. Everything we discussed were things I had already known from constant YES blog stalking. Within two hours, the PDO was over. 

After being home for a few hours, I've had some serious reflection time. It's amazing how shocked people are to find out that I will be spending a year in Indonesia. An AFS volunteer asked me where I was going. When I told him, he then started telling me how naive Indonesians are about different religions and how difficult living in a Muslim country would be. This really caught me off guard. I mean, I'm perfectly aware that going to Indonesia will be difficult, but, I certainly wasn't expecting an AFS volunteer to look down upon the country and its people. At the start of the PDO, everyone had to stand up, introduce themselves, and say where they were going. There were plenty of kids going to Argentina, Italy, France, Spain, and other European countries. Their introductions were met with smiles, nodding heads, and approving facial expressions. But when I got up and boldly said, "I'm Mallory and I'll be spending a year in Indonesia," Well, I got a response of awkward stares, puzzling facial expressions, and I even heard someone say, "Where's Indonesia?" I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But, I was once again reminded of just how important YES Abroad is. No one knows about Indonesia. No one knows about Islam. Hey, I don't know much about them either. But, I'm hoping to gain some insight and become more globally aware one day at a time. 

Happily reunited with my other Montana girl, Eleanor!

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