Borobudur Temple: Buddhist Temple in Indonesia

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Hidden in a valley between a few mountains and volcanoes about an hour outside of Jogja sits Candi Borobudur.  This 9th century Buddhist temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, claims to be the biggest Buddhist monument still standing today, and is the most visited tourist site in Indonesia. If you want to avoid the crowds you can pay an extra 40 US dollars to go through the a hotel for sunrise before the park…

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This Year in Books: 2013

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In 5th grade my father bought me a textbook-size copy of The Hobbit with 48 brightly colored illustrations to lose myself in when my eyes were too tired to continue reading. Before then, I remember liking books.  I enjoyed the Famous Five and the Secret Seven.  I laughed at The Phantom Tollbooth.  I had never been spellbound, dizzy, and confronted with the scope of the world until I followed Bilbo. My 12th grade literature teacher,…

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Jumping Jogja – Trip to Goa Pindul

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A few weeks ago 8 fellow Fulbrighters came to visit Jogja on vacation.  I, unfortunately, was still teaching for most of their visit, but I got to participate in one day of adventure.  We went to Goa Pindul, an area known for a small mountain, rivers, and caves. We took a day trip, about 1.5 hours outside the city, to get there and took a tour of the caves via tubes.  To follow we headed…

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Charge d’ Affaires: A Belated Thanksgiving

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Last week, the entire Fulbright ETA program gathered together for our Mid-Year Conference held in Jakarta this year.  After being at our individual sites spread all over Indonesia for the last few months, it was nice to finally be back together to swap stories and whine a little bit. The most common cultural adaptation to vex us is the immense differences between school systems in Indonesia and the United States.  For example, senior high-school students…

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Trash: America, You’re Doing it Wrong

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Indonesian lifestyle and culture is beautiful.  Each member clearly contributes to society as a whole and deeply cares about those around them.  I never go a day without a complete stranger offering a quick smile and bow.  I love being a part of that for just a little while. There are many things I have learned since moving to Indonesia that have struck me as interesting lifestyle choices I should bring home.  For example, I…

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Fulfilling a Childhood Dream

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At 10 years old I learned to surf at the Ocean Experience Surf Camp in Oceanside San Diego.  I got my first board at 13 – a 6’2” thruster with a drawing of Winnie the Pooh on the bottom.  I was so cool. In high school I started the Westview Surf Team, the only organization that could consistently get high school teenagers out of bed to do anything before school.  On more than one occasion…

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Learning Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)

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Before departing my mentor asked me, “What are your goals for this trip?”  An innocuous question uttered with piercing intent, or at least from the lips of a man whom I know to value every word.  He is a poet. At the time I was embarrassed and surprised to find I couldn’t answer the question.  To most, I could come up with a sly, passable statement that would satisfy, and probably inspire.  To him, I…

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Linguistic Perspective

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My introduction to the study of linguistics came from my friend and fellow Cal lacrosse player, Kevin, who also happens to be the most intelligent man I know.  Four years ago we were sitting in front of the Golden Bear Café eating sandwiches from Cheese & Stuff, “turkey, no cheese, everything, no pickles, no mustard, thanks Sam.” He was going on about a genius professor we had each heard speak by the name of George…

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Celebrating Idul Adha

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Living on a farm in New Berlin, Pennsylvania this summer building the manufacturing facility for our startup, Gilson Boards, the founding team discussed purchasing livestock on a few occasions.  I was the strongest proponent of acquiring an animal, a pig my general organism of fancy.  We would go to the auction once every two weeks to eat fish sandwiches and homemade fries, drink Mountain Dew, and search for a 100 lb. pig.  We even went…

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Culture Shock is a Picnic Idea

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Culture shock is a picnic idea.  It is the stark beauty of an open field beneath a majestic temple primed and begging for the blanket and wicker box filled with goodies.  It is the excited planning of a crisp white wine, veggie platter hors d’oeuvres, deli sandwiches, with a chance of sundresses.  It is the realization that none of this is possible. You haven’t seen white wine anywhere; the knowledge required to find ice to…

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