Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Departure Day

Bags are packed, it's time to leave.

At this point everyone keeps asking me, "are you ready?" or "are you excited?" To be honest, I'm not quite sure how to define my readiness. Yes, I've bought toothpaste and deoderant; yes, I've made copies of my visa; yes, I've paid my rent; and the list goes on. My hesitancy to say I'm "ready" then comes from my awareness of the unknown laying before me. Besides doing a ridiculous amount of reading over Christmas break, I know very little about Indonesia, and know absolutely NO Indonesian language. I'm assuming that getting around Bali with English won't be a problem considering the number of tourists that pass through there, but I'm definitely looking forward to some formal language training as soon as possible.

For me, this trip is twofold: I will be completing an internship at a local museum in Ambon by helping to manage the collections gathered on the Banda Islands; but additionally, I'll be conducting my own ethnographic research in order to have some original data for use in my Master's thesis. At UW I am currently in my first year of a museum studies masters. My goal in attaining this professional degree is to gain both a better practical and theoretical understanding of museums that I can use in a later degree in archaeology. On this trip I'm really looking forward to checking out the museum in Ambon and seeing the degree of interest locals take in the archaeological activities we'll be conducting at Banda.

That being said, fieldwork is tough. It takes a certain degree of mental preparation to remove yourself from the standards you're used to and maintain an open mind. I love fieldwork because of these challenges, but I'm never really "ready" to shed myself of everything familiar. I've come to appreciate through my travels that you can only remove yourself from your identity so far--at the end of the day I'll still be an American woman with blue eyes and pale skin who loves mac n cheese. So rather than avoid these intrinsic truths about myself, I prefer to accept them and work around them as I try to understand the different ways of life I'm being introduced to.

Unlike the other students on this trip, I'm actually fulfilling regular classes while in Indonesia. Which means, that ten weeks of Collections Management reading I didn't finish over break is in my backpack...ugh. Learning collections management through a hands on approach in a foreign place will be great, just my style, although attempting to conform it to the standards of my program is a bit nerve-racking... I'm confident it will work out though.

Excitement for the trip will come when my feet hit the ground Bali, and I have my first foreign meal. Until then, I'm still in grey Seattle trying to eat all the leftovers out of my fridge = NOT EXCITING. Really though, eating is one of my all time favorite activities. I cannot wait to learn about the cuisine of Indonesia, I'll try anything once.

See you on the other side! (especially you, Kathryn)

1 comment:

  1. Apa Khabar? How are you?
    I speak Malay but I guess, by now you would have learned to say that already. I am also guessing you have landed in Banda? What you do is very interesting. I'll stay tuned in:)