Alumni Spotlight: Chris Linnan

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Name: Chris Linnan, but you can call me Rocket.

Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina.

School: Emory University.

ETA Placement and Year: I was placed in Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan during 2014-5 and in Medan in North Sumatra during 2015-6.

Current City and Job: I work as a pirate in Mogadishu, Somalia.*

Life After Fulbright: I will always have a lot of love in my heart for Indonesia, especially Palangkaraya. There are a lot of people in America that look down on South Carolina and consider it a backwards place. When I hear people outside of South Carolina talk about it, they often like to focus on the negatives and make broad stereotypical assumptions about us. In doing so they ignore the positives and the wonderful people who live there.

I heard the same thing in Indonesia when people outside of Kalimantan talked about Palangkaraya. When I asked Indonesians about Palangkaraya before going there I usually heard “panas (hot) mister” and “be careful, head-hunting.” Well, Palangkaraya may not be the most developed city in Indonesia nor does it have the most KFCs-per-capita (that’s the unofficial Chris Linnan standard for measuring an Indonesian city’s economic development), but it has the nicest people with the biggest hearts.

My favorite memory from Indonesia is from my Christmas in Palangkaraya. I lived frugally during my time there because I was paying off student debt, so unlike a lot of my fellow ETAs I did not travel during the Christmas break. So, the combination of not having school, missing Christmas with my family, etc. made December the low point of my grant. However, one of my co-teachers, Ibu Leli, visited me on Christmas Eve and brought me pizza she bought from a Pizza Hut in Banjarmasin (a threeish-hour journey from Palangkaraya since there was no Pizza Hut in Palangkaraya). The pizza itself wasn’t the greatest, but the gesture was priceless.

I will always have a special spot in my heart for Indonesia. I am one of Amazon.com’s most prodigious consumers of Indomie value packs and I always get excited when I see something Indonesia-related outside of Indonesia. But, the thing I will treasure the most about Indonesia are the memories made playing dodgeball with my students, watching my students thrive at local English competitions, etc.

One of the other highlights of my time in Indonesia was the opportunity to be a co-editor-in-chief for Indonesiaful. We grew exponentially in terms of followers, web clicks, and quality content produced. I wish I could take credit for it, but it was people like my co-editors Bianca Rajan and Kelly Fitzgerald whose hard work and innovations were key to our growth. I also have to give a special shout-out to Katy Rennenkampf, who was the person who gave Bianca and me our initial opportunity to be co-editors, and offered invaluable support and guidance. I wish I could thank all of our other contributors by name, but there simply is not room and they know who they are.

Editors note: Chris “Rocket” Linnan is currently a law student at the University of Michigan.

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