29th June
Arriving in Jakarta was a welcome relief after what felt like an eternity of travel with connecting flights and stop overs from Melbourne. Waiting in the taxi line for the specifically nominated Blue Bird cab company, I was thrilled to catch up with a fellow CERES Global volunteer Pia, so we could ride together to the hostel where the rest of the group was meeting us for the night.

30th June
The following morning we were picked up from the YUM Jakarta office and drove approximately 3 hours to Cipanas.

Upon arrival at YUM in Cipanas we witnessed some children’s activities that reminded me of hitting a pinyata at a birthday party, except these kids had plastic bags full of water, and bamboo sticks.

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The first few days at YUM we had Bahasa Indonesian classes to assist in reducing communication barriers. A truly enjoyable language to learn, and relatively easy once you get the basics.

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998011_10152027907929348_1988862982_nDuring this time we also did a walking tour of the immediate local area which included a visit to the local recycling centre, an organic dairy and an organic chicken farm.

At the recycling centre we learnt that the business had been in operation over 20 years. They would accept all plastic waste and would pay 1,300rp per kilo they receive, and would on sell it for 2,000 rp, making a profit of 700 rp per kilo.  The facility was incredibly basic with all sorting carried out by hand, and one compressing machine to bale the mixed plastics together.

At the organic dairy and chicken farm we learnt that it was more financially viable to be an organic farmer as the Indonesian government has made the cost of pesticides so high which encourages organic farming as preferable.

1009750_10152028168409348_1922973640_n4th July
Today we were guests of honor at the YUM Village Creativity Day where all the children dressed in traditional Indonesian outfits, and sang and danced to traditional music.   We enjoyed some delicious food and a morning full of creative activities.

For the afternoon the CERES Global team held two different workshops with the children focusing on Environmental Education. Using drama, visual arts and creative projects the children explored and discussed the impacts of rubbish pollution in their local community, and the importance of removing litter from the natural environment.

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5th & 6th July
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Teacher Training held in the Library at YUM on Friday and Saturday.  Twenty teachers from the Cipanas region attended two 3/4 days of Environmental and English training so they could further improve the education of their students.  With their own classes ranging from 20 up to 100 primary and / or high school aged students, these teachers welcomed the creative interactions Vanessa introduced to them, which would assist them in teaching English and introducing Environmental Education.

We played a number of games that assisted these teachers with their pronunciation, their spelling and their grammar. I was graciously humbled to be told repeatedly how valuable these sessions were for the teachers, how grateful they were that we had traveled all the way from Australia to assist them in their learning. This was probably the most enjoyable part of the trip for me so far.

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1044564_10151340892924159_632300536_nUsing Dr. Seuss The Lorax as the basis for the environmental education, we all had fun trying to read the rhymes of the childrens book. This activity then evolved into a Community of Inquiry with the group, which prompted some incredibly meaningful discussions around the question “Why are parts of Indonesia so poor?”

One of the comments made “Indonesia has a new school curriculum called Curriculum 2013. It is about building the character of Indonesian Students. It has a strong focus on religious education, but the teacher must be a good role model. Students need real experience of life with strong moral role models. At the moment students study just for IQ, not for Social or Environmental Intelligence. Students need all three.”

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7th July
Today was the day we tackled the 23km climb (12 hours) up the great Gunung Gede. An active volcano that overlooks Cipanas.

I wont lie.. this was a killer of a climb.

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Next week we’re heading to Kalimantan on the Borneo island, to work with another YUM centre. We’ll write another blog update then!