Learning to smash with the best of them

“Badminton is something I play in my backyard in the summer with a cheap plastic shuttlecock and an unsteady net. It bears no resemblance to the intense bulutangkis that I play every Wednesday with teachers and students from SMAN 6. As they teach me how to ‘smash’ and my pores leak tropical sweat, I understand why…

SMA 6 Madiun welcome

Welcome to Indonesia — can you sing for us?

I arrive at a school committee meeting during my first week at my site in Madiun. It’s early morning on a Saturday, and the first thing I see as I walk in the building with my headmaster is a gigantic banner with my name printed in glaring yellow block letters. I was unaware I was the…

Learning to slaughter with a smile for Idul Adha

As a native Oregonian, I’m intimately familiar with the organic, free-range, local, raise-your-own chickens, slaughter-your-own-meat food movement sweeping Portland. There’s an obsession with raising and killing animals humanely — or not eating them at all. But what if an animal slaughter wasn’t a sobering occasion, but rather a public celebration? This is the reality for…