Gabe Reid, 130 TESS
Traveling to Bali, Indonesia was, without a doubt, the best trip of my life. I enjoyed everything from the moment we got off of the plane: socializing with the locals and tourists, enjoying delicious cuisine, and, of course, sightseeing some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Although it was great to take a break from volunteering in Thailand, taking time off to go to Indonesia was actually the most eye-opening experience I have had that directly impacted my service.
Here’s three ways that a bai tiao to the fourth most populous country in the world reignited my commitment to serve:
1. The Power of A Universal Language
Throughout the vacation, I had casual conversations with people from Greece, Australia, The Netherlands, Canada, India, New Caledonia, Egypt, Falkland Islands, Mauritius, and many more. All of these different nations (some I had to google afterwards because I never heard of them) and yet we were able to chit chat informally.
I didn’t think much of this until I had an outing with a few other tourists. At the dinner, we were with two women from South Africa, a woman from Singapore, a man from Zimbabwe, and a man from Bali. As we were sitting and getting to know each other, it hit me: “We are from many corners of the earth, yet we are all speaking English.”
Probably not the original purpose of the language the imperialists had intended, but in this Age of Globalization, acquisition of the English language is imperative for even the most basic interactions if one is to travel abroad.
This opened my eyes to see the scale our service has on a completely different magnitude — not just on our community, but on the entire world! We are giving our students an opportunity to access a global market and a global network that will create endless possibilities from professional work to recreational travel.
What a time to be alive!
2. Crooked-Eye Joe
As we walked along the street from hostels to coffee shops to ice cream parlors, the kids at play throughout the community were so confident approaching us. Without fail, they would always ask, “Where you come from?” followed by, “Where you go?”
I can imagine the tourism culture of Bali encourages the youth to be bold when speaking with foreigners, but I loved the absolute fearlessness the children had while speaking with adults in English.
How can I get my students to be confident in their English-speaking ability, no matter how limited it may be, when speaking with foreign adults?
It challenged me to not only go back to the drawing board to cultivate confidence, but also gave me a new song to sing to teach students: Crooked-Eye Joe.
3. A Positive Black Male Role Model
As I sat in a barber shop on Sanur Beach to get a fade. The barbers were jamming to all manner of hip-hop music. What stood out to me is that they were watching YouTube videos of American rappers with much use of the N-word — probably not knowing the history behind it. It’s interesting to see the representation other countries have of black men from the States through entertainment and media.
It made me grateful that they could interact with me (as I say most humbly), a married man doing something constructive while still being able to enjoy a wonderful vacation. Furthermore, I cannot tell you how many times there were where my wife and I would go out to eat, take a tour, or stay at a hotel and we are the only black people. It is a great honor to be a representation of something other than what they may commonly see depicted through Hollywood or Rap music.
Such a privilege inspires me more to show my kids that they too can rise against the many misconceptions people may have about them given their background. Moreover, they can rise above those stereotypes and achieve success while being able to enjoy adventurous vacations.
With that being said, I hope you all had an eye-opening bpit-term and find inspiration along this semester to continue your commitment to serve.
Read more articles and contributions by Gabe.