Friday, July 12, 2013

I Have a Host Family!

Ladies and gentlemen, this girl finally has a host family! I groggily rolled out of bed yesterday, ate a quick breakfast, and being as tired as I was, went right back up to my bed for a nap. When I woke up, I grabbed my phone and started checking Facebook. I saw that Izzy had posted on our page and said, "I have my family and I'll be in Surabaya!" Just as I was about to start feeling sorry for myself that I STILL didn't have a host, my phone vibrated. I went to my email, and saw, "AFS: Your Permanent Host Family Placement with AFS-Indonesia." I got way, way, way too excited and screamed. I then tripped over my dog on the floor, and rushed over to my computer. 

Aren't they the cutest?

So this is my cute family! I have a beautiful mom named Irma, a father named Andriti, an 11 year old sister named Adziqa, and a 5 year old brother named Faiq. My mom is a doctor and my dad works for a telecommunication company. My mom did an exchange to Belgium, so that's great because she has gone through an exchange herself before. My new family loves to go out and do new things on the weekends together. Mom loves to cook. Dad likes to play soccer every week. Adziqa likes to draw and takes piano lessons. And Faiq likes to play soccer and bike! 

Some more family photos
I forgot to mention, I will be in Bandung! I will be there with Breanna. From the beginning we said we would be together because we were roommates at the IPSE, and then we were placed in the same country, and we will now be in the same city! Bandung is the third largest city in Indonesia with a population of 2.4 million people. Bandung is surrounded by volcanoes and a river. So that's pretty neat. Because of the city's elevation, the climate is actually cooler than other places on Java. Hallelujah. The average temperature is 75 degrees. 

More about Bandung later. I am so very thankful for my host family! I have exchanged emails with my mom and I don't think she could be any sweeter. Getting my host family has certainly made my upcoming journey much more real, and I cannot be more excited for my upcoming year. 

38 days,
Mal Pal


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Puhh-Dough.

Leaving people is hard. Leaving people that I have fallen completely in love with is even harder. I have just arrived home from debatably the best four days of my life, the YES Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation. Aka, the PDO. Or as I like to call it, the Puhh-Dough. Charis and I drove up to the 4-H Conference Center together on Wednesday. Pulling up to the place that I wasn't sure I would ever see again brought on so many different emotions. The excitement hit me, and things became real. We quickly checked in and were given our room assignments, our official YES t-shirts, YES tote bags, and our handbooks. We were super excited about those shirts, let me tell ya. The rooms were assigned based on alphabetical order. So, I roomed with Maria, Mae, and Marin (Thailand, Oman, and South Africa.) Our first night was spent eating dinner, going over introductions, and meeting the rest of our country groups. We also had to plan for what we would do if a zombie apocalypse happened when we touched down in our country. 4/8 Indo girls said they would chose me to be their partner in crime because you know, I'm from Montana and know how to survive and stuff.

Your 2013-2014 YES Abroad Indonesia Girls! From left to right, Carly, Sarah, Me, Emily W, Izzy, Emily R, Ellen, and Bree
The second we sat down at our round table, I knew that our Indonesia group was a match made in heaven! We have the largest group, and it's all girls. Can you say girl power? After an incredibly long day, it was time for bed. Well, let's be honest, my room didn't fall asleep until around 2:00 AM. But you know, that's another story. The next day was FANTASTIC. After breakfast, we boarded a bus to the State Department, where we then hopped on another bus with the YES Indonesia inbound students who were just finishing their years in the US. Together, we rode over to the Indonesian Embassy. To say it was a party would be an understatement. I first connected with a girl named Ade who, go figure, was hosted in Great Falls, Montana! We instantly bonded. 

Ade and I after arriving at the Embassy

Our time at the embassy began with us taking hundreds of pictures. (Indonesians are super into selfies and Instagram. Can I get a hallelujah?) We then all sat down and listened to a speech by the one and only, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, the Indonesian ambassador to the United States. I could try and sum up all of the great things he had to say but, I think that this video gives him more justice. 
Click here to hear the Indonesian Ambassador's speech!
Here's a funny story. After the speech, the ambassador came right up to me and asked if I wanted to take a selfie. Yes, a selfie. So, of course I did.

My selfie with Mr. Ambassador. Word.

After the speech, it was time for food. I couldn't tell you everything we ate but, it was pretty good. There was rice, (of course,) satai, and other things that I can't pronounce. It was all very, very good.

A little bit of the food I tasted

The rest of our time at the embassy was spent talking with the inbounds, singing songs around the piano, and dancing. At the end of our visit, some students wanted to show us their traditional dance. Apparently all Indonesians are blessed with amazing dance abilities. So, they got up there and did there thing. Of course, me being Mallory, I had to get up there and try dancing along with them. Now, I usually consider myself a fairly great dancer but, I was put in my place. I ended up looking quite silly but, you know, when in Rome.

In the few hours I spent at the Embassy, I fell in love with the Indonesian students. Every single one of them was welcoming, friendly, humble, and grounded. All apprehensions I had about spending a year amongst kids I didn't know were quickly put to rest. 

Indo girls in front of the Embassy

Indonesian statue outside of the Embassy

Party at the Indonesian Embassy!

Sarah and her newfound friends

Izzy and I making our best Indonesian faces

It was so beautiful inside!

Best friends!
When it was finally time to leave, we said our goodbyes and hopped on a bus to the Department of State. After going through security, our YES country groups were lead into a large conference room. We were then addressed by  Rick Ruth, Senior Advisor at the Bureau of Cultural and Education Affairs. He gave us some very inspiring words, and discussed his goals for us and our upcoming years. Following that, we then had a Q&A with a panel of State Department employees who represented our countries. The panel was incredible, many of them having multiple degrees and perfect SAT vocabulary. Myself and the other YES kids posed great questions, and overall the session was a success. 

In front of the State Department

Following our time at the Department of State, we then walked to the Lincoln Memorial where we were given time to explore and take lots of pictures.

Looking super professional with my favorite Floridian, Christian

Indo girls at the Lincoln Monument!

From there, we headed back to the 4-H center. The next day was spent having multiple workshops on religion, digital storytelling, health and safety, and my personal favorite, "not good, not bad, just different." Of course, in the midst of all these workshops the Indo girls had more bonding time and took even more pictures. 

Attempting our best Indonesian poses

Indo dinner date!

With what seemed like the blink of an eye, the PDO was over. The dreaded moment had finally arrived. It was time to say our goodbyes. For some country groups, it meant they were headed right off to India and Thailand. For others, it meant returning back to their homes and awaiting their departure dates. No matter the case, it was rough on everyone. YES Abroad is a family. And although family members may not see each other often, and although they may live all over the globe, they always hold a special place in your heart. So, with that said, Watch out, world. Because the YES Abroad 2013-2014 class is coming for you, and we've got big things planned. 

Until next time,
     You know who