Table of Contents

2011 • Extended Service, Esther Buckwalter

June 8, 2011

A Buddha statue peacefully surveys his surroundings at Borobudur

Seeing a volcano, researching tests for aqueous silver concentration, going to the world’s largest Buddhist monument, and naming myself with a positive adjective… What do all these activities have in common?  Why yes, you guessed it, they have all happened within my first week as a member of Friends Peace Teams.  (My positive adjective is Enthusiastic, by the way.  I am Enthusiastic Esther!)  My first week has been, as expected, very interesting and thought provoking.  What follows are some of the thoughts that have been provoked by the structure of the FPT organization and the travels in Indonesia thus far.

Travel and cultural outings were exciting elements of my week that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.  Friday, June 3rd found me watching the fog roll back from the top of a volcano and playing an Indonesian bamboo instrument called an angklung.   Saturday, June 4th took me to an Indonesian family reunion, discussing women in politics and the lack of diabetic-friendly products in Indonesia with Sarah’s uncle.

Travelers with Friends Peace Teams look very small compared to the Brahma temple at Prambanan

The beginning of this week (Sunday, June 5th) I was whizzing through the countryside on a train to settle into my new home in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.  Monday, June 6th brought some manual labor and meetings to set up for filter testing and learn about the Society for Health Education Environment and Peace, Friends Peace Teams’ partner in bringing ceramic water filters to Indonesia.  Tuesday, June 7th included a trip to two amazing ancient religious sites, Borobudur and Prambanan, and today I write you this travel log after a good day of work.

Interspersed throughout these activities have been regular check-in meetings with my fellow Peace Team workers (Nick, Sarah, Nadine, Autumn, Sharon, and Dean).  The meetings and the travels have been teaching me a lot about what it means to be in Indonesia with Friends Peace Teams.  Exploring the culture and the history of this country teaches me about its complexity, its joys, and its sorrows.  It puts me in a better context for the work I’ll do and how to react to situations and people around me.  It also deepens my understanding of the world and its many different peoples.  Check-in meetings with the team teach me about the continued emphasis FPT has on finding people’s strengths and being in touch with what you need.

I’m learning how bringing people’s strengths together creates an amazing capacity for positive change.  I truly appreciate my fellow workers’ goal of building an environment of effective communication and respect, and I’m grateful to Indonesia for having me for the next two months.  I will do my utmost to make these months count.

All the best,

Esther Buckwalter

Ceramic Water Filter Researcher