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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

A Day in the Life

Hello family and friends, Keshet here. It has truly been an honor to spend the last couple of weeks in Jogja. I have witnessed tremendous growth in each student as they have delicately transitioned from their daily routines back home and to now what is considered their “life in Indonesia.” Watching the students interact and become a member of their homestay families has been incredibly heartwarming. Having a home away from home can be grounding when traveling and we are all grateful for this.


In addition to the student’s homestays, they have also been involved in their individual ISPs (Independent Study Projects), Bahasa Indonesia classes as well as participating in our homespun “guest lecture series” of Jogja. We have had the gift of knowledge shared to us from a wide range of people. Some of our guest lectures have covered topics of women in Indonesia, climate change, marginalized communities, Art and Activism, Muslim 101 and Indonesian history. If anyone is interested in hearing more about what we have learned in any of these topics, drop a comment and we can post a more in depth yak!


After spending the mornings catching up and sharing gratitude, the students break off into their language class. After lunch the afternoons consist of the Dragons scattered throughout Jogja taking part in the ISP projects. This can look very different for each student. Here is a glimpse into all of the amazing work they have been doing!



Kate has been working with Agus, her silver making mentor. In the afternoons Kate heads off to Studio 76, a peaceful and quiet studio on the edge of town where she works away at the various jewelry pieces she has been making. Music in the background and guidance from Agus has allowed Kate to learn the skills of hand making silver jewelry in a very tranquil environment Each session Kate builds on her skills she has learned and is on her way to creating a personalized collection of her work. She hopes she can share her new found skills with her family back home!


Liv and Izzy have been having quite the experience with their ISP. While there is no exact rhythm or reason to each session they have with their mentor Erass, their experience is beginning to take shape in ways they never imagined. It can be hard to articulate exactly what they have been learning, for their ISP is about Mysticism in Indonesia. And as Erass often says, this cannot be taught or told. It must be learned through experience. This is exactly what Liv and Izzy have been doing. They have gone to countless temples around Jogja, learned about Hinduism, taken part in full moon and animal sacrificing ceremonies and been given the gift of sharing intellectual conversations with locals and travelers about life and spirituality.


Anna Hartzell is taking part in the Indonesian Cooking class with bu Made. Over the last couple of weeks Anna has cooked soto ayam, pisang goreng and countless other Indonesian dishes. She is a master garlic peeler and sambal maker. All hand ground! Working in the kitchen with Made means learning first-hand how to buy, prepare and serve local dishes. This means going to the market before hand to find the best and freshest ingredients. I can say on account for all of the Dragon’s students, instructors and mentors that we are truly grateful for all the delicious food Anna has shared with us! Anna hopes to bring her new cooking skills home with her and share the recipes and food with her family when she returns to the U.S.


Romina and Anna Harris spend their afternoons heading just outside of Jogja where they are making wood carvings under the wings of their mentor Ucuk from Taring Padi. They work in his home studio, in a quiet part of a village right outside of town. A peaceful place to consider all of the hardships and struggle of the people that the Taring Padi collective often make art about. Their work is about activism, in many forms. Ucuk is a leader in political arts activism in Jogja and in all of Indonesia as well. Romina and Anna have been inspired to create their own pieces, using a medium of art that involves intricate wood carving. To make them into prints, they are going old school. Using ink and the body weight, they roll out paper and use their feet to imprint the design!


Jacob and Matt have been connected through the love of ceramics and pottery making long before they met in Indonesia. This is the first time that this program has offered a ceramics ISP! Due to Jacob and Matt’s persistent dedication to pottery making, they have been able to learn and expand their skills from their mentor Titis. They have been developing their skills in coil, pinching and wheel throwing over the last couple of weeks. Matt and Jacob have been finding that there are a lot of similarities to the methods and techniques they have learned back in the U.S. We are all excited to see their finished products!


Peter and Nina are also taking part in the art scene here in Jogja and they are taking it to the streets! With the mentorship of Andres (a local and now internationally known street artist) they have been learning all about the method of stencil street art. This process is extensive and takes a lot of patience and diligence. The final product is well worth the time spent. Street art in Jogja is vast. In almost every alley you can find beautiful work about everyday life and culture in Indonesia. Andres work is also rooted in activism and he uses this medium of art to share love and knowledge to people. Peter and Nina have each created their own unique stencils and have included the whole neighborhood in this project as they spray paint their pieces on the walls of the neighbor’s homes. Even though this is both Nina and Peter’s first time taking part in street art work, they are discovering the ways they can have a positive outreach with this new form of expression.


P.S. – Thank you to all of the mentors who have been giving countless hours of dedication and support to all of the students. For sharing their depth of knowledge and allowing space for each student’s individual quests and growth. We are forever grateful.