Monday, August 28, 2006


As a sophomore in college, I participated in study-service semester in Indonesia. It was a fabulous experience.

For the last two months of our visit, we lived with Indonesian families. My family was very well-to-do and not very strict. I had three host-siblings and we lived in a three-story home. There were balconies off every floor, some that even had grass. There was kitchen help, tutors, a nanny, marble floors, pets, a large fish tank, indoor fountains, and individual bathrooms for all. It was strange to be in Indonesia and technically be living a wealthier lifestyle than at home. It is all relative, but still.

My family was very pleasant and we had very little conflict. Or so I thought. My host parents had a meeting with the group leaders half-way through our stay. It was at this time that I learned of the things that I did that offended them. One was visiting with a friend on the front porch until too late of a time. The other was standing with my hands on my hips. It was comfortable and meant nothing to me...but culturally, it translated as an aggressive stance. I was pretty humiliated that they had received that message from me, but also a bit angry that they would not tell me this on their own.

However, last night (9 years later) I found my hands on my hips as I stood and talked with friends before a meal. As my neighbor began to say grace, I felt very uncomfortable with my hands-on-hips posture and dropped them behind my back. It did feel aggressive for some reason. Not so different from folded arms suggesting a certain level of being unopen to the situation.

It was strange to realize that after all these years, I either hold on to what they said OR I now believe it myself.

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