(Back to blogging! This is the start of a summer series on my experiences in Indonesia interning for the United Nations Population Fund as part of my Master’s of Public Health program in Maternal and Child Health. Apart from this introduction piece, I plan to focus on topics related to maternal and child populations in Indonesia and globally.)
Arriving in Indonesia not even 11 months after moving on from my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer here felt a lot like coming to a home of sorts. I would have laughed wildly if this time last year someone had told me that I would find myself returning to Indonesia within the year, but life has an awesome way of taking you down unforeseen paths. Granted, I was arriving in the capital of Jakarta, a place I had never actually set foot in beyond its airport, but even as I rode in a taxi from the airport to the city, I felt at ease. The taxi driver and I chatted about the city and our families, why I was here, and how nice Jakarta is in the middle of the night sans its infamous traffic gridlock.
The concept of home is an ever-morphing one for me, as I have yet to feel ‘at home’ in any particular place be it in the United States or elsewhere. Home can be defined as where your things are, in a house, apartment, or storage unit. Home could be the place where the people you love are or where you work. In my twenties, home has proven to be the places where I laugh with friends and family.
Relative to most, I am a bit of a wanderer and, having moved no less than four times in the past 12 months, the concept of home crosses my mind from time to time. For me, home can be anywhere. I find it amazing that I can travel from place to place to visit with friends I have made along the way and, even in a short amount of time, feel at home. Thanks to the kindness and breathtaking generosity of the people that I know and love, home is wherever I am spending quality time with others. A week in California with my grad school roommate and returned Peace Corps friends is home when we are hiking through the Redwood Forests singing songs. A few nights at my sister’s house in Philadelphia is home when I am snuggled up on the couch reading books to my nieces. Setting foot in a foreign country where I spent the better part of my early twenties as a Peace Corps Volunteer feels like home when I arrive and can navigate the streets speaking the language.
I think a more malleable definition of home like mine is becoming more and more normal. Families move often and younger adults wait longer to ‘settle down’. Career changes are the norm and never having a ‘normal job’ is no longer reserved for the vagabonds and Kerouac’s of the world. I have many friends who are truly citizens of the world – their families live in different countries, they have more than one native tongue, and their citizenship is a map their family’s journey. I was born and raised in one place by parents with similar backgrounds yet my idea of home has grown to encompass many things beyond where I am from and my nationality. I know how lucky I am as a U.S. citizen and native English speaker to pursue moving about the world as I have and I find it exhilarating to live as an American in a world where, if you have the desire and means, you can pick up go explore, start anew, or pursue dreams.
For the next three months, Jakarta and thereabouts will be my home. I will keep my things in this sprawling city and l hope to laugh a lot with old friends and unknown new ones.