The Peace Corps Indonesia program was reopened in 2009. The program first began in 1963, but closed down in 1965 due to political problems. In the 60s, there were three groups of volunteers that served (ID-1, ID-2, ID-3), so when the program reopened the groups continued chronologically and are referred to as ID-4 (2010 – 2012), ID-5 (2011 – 2013) and my group is ID-6 (2012 – 2014).
Currently, our program is very small, but it’s expanding. While other countries have hundreds of volunteers throughout their countries, we currently have about 60 volunteers placed only in the island of Java. Another 60 trainees will arrive in April.
Before being sworn in as volunteers, our Peace Corps Pre-Service Training (PST) takes part in the province of Malang. We are placed with host families, in small village groups, and study Bahasa Indonesia and Indonesian culture for 10 weeks.
All volunteers in Indonesia are Education Volunteers, which means we teach English in public high schools. Some of these high schools are madrasah, which are Islamic high schools (MAN), others are general high schools with no religious affiliations (SMA) and the rest are vocational high schools (SMK). I am currently teaching in a MAN. In the future, it is likely that volunteers will teach in elementary and middle schools, and that other volunteering fields will open.
Most of us are based about 5 – 10 hours away from Surabaya, which is where our Peace Corps office is located. Our sites are primarily in small village or rural towns in East Java, though many incoming volunteers will be placed in West Java. We are required to live with host families in our communities. In some countries, Peace Corps Volunteers live alone, but here, living with a host family is essential for our community integration.