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Susanna in Bali

Volonteer Blog

Denpasar, Bali, October 2014 (Susanna Diana)

From an island in the Mediterranean Sea, to an island in the Indian Ocean…

I have been a volunteer in Italy for several NGO’s that work in International Cooperation. In June, once I finished my year of volunteering for the National Civil Service in the immigration office,I decided it was the right time to realize my dream since I was a child: volunteering abroad

I stepped across this project in Indonesia almostrandomly, and now I find myselfon the other side of the world, in the stunning island of Bali, the island of the gods, in one of the world’s largest archipelago, hosts a large variety of history, cultures, religions andethnic groups joined together with the motto “Bhinnekatunggalika” – “Unity in diversity”.

I cannot tell or express in words my first month of EVS: everything here is so intense, and every day is lived fully. A new life, a new home, a new job, new friends, new colleagues and housemates, new places to explore.

I live with the others volunteers in Pemogan street (area of Denpasar, the biggest city of Bali) and I feel like I cameback in time. I think of my grandparents’ life, and my picture is not very different from this: the local markets, chickens that roam free in the courtyards, acts of kindness between neighbors -like receivingsome fruit- , chatting a bit with the locals, invitations to ceremonies… The local people’s way of life is totally different from the western life: the sense of community is still very strong, all the people is involved in ceremonies and local events, and every married man is part of the local banjar, the traditional town council thatdetermines the dates for the religious events, collects money for the ceremonies, allocates the temple maintenance, etc. During the last weeks wealso had the chance to meet the banjar, who was really open with us and is willing to involve us in local activities, such ascleaning the neighborhood every first Sunday of the month or building a new road… The people is very friendly and interesting, and I like to chat with local people in the warungs(typical Indonesian restaurants), in the market or in the street.

You can easily find a bit of harmony staring at boundless rice fields or breathtaking landscapes,but also observing the people, which seems to be patient and calm even in the tremendous traffic;probably for the different approach to time, Indonesia is considered as one of the most relaxed countries in the world. The Indonesian expression “Jam Karet“ ( rubber time ) means that “things are not precipitated as the attitude is that everything has its time and place”: like in “Jam Karet”, the song of Vonda Shepard, I hope I will be “Stretching every minute” here.