Prior to even leaving for Indonesia, I was already imagining what the next step would be. I wrote a blog post about it awhile back which I have updated periodically throughout the year, so if you are a 20-something trying to figure out what to do with your life you should check it out.
Now that exactly one month of my grant remains, the ever-pressing question of “What Next?” seems even more urgent.
Yet as I imagined, my next step is something totally different that wasn’t on my idea list to begin with. Before coming here I didn’t know that this was a possibility and yet here I am doing it: I will be coming back to Indonesia as a Fulbright Senior ETA (SETA). Round 2, baby!
A couple months ago I applied to become the AMINEF (American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation) Researcher-Coordinator (RC). The application involved writing a letter that answered a lot of questions in a small space and continued with an in-person interview at the AMINEF office in Jakarta. Two other ETAs applied (this position is only open to current ETAs in Indonesia) and shortly after the interviews AMINEF gave us their decision.
The RC for 2016-2017 will be the caring and capable Grace Wivell. The other candidates, Mackenzie Findlay and myself, were offered a second Fulbright grant as SETAs. [Pro tip: click their names to see their blogs!] Being a SETA involves all of the same responsibilities as being an ETA but with an additional role as a leader of a region and during orientation, among others. I originally wasn’t keen on coming back as an ETA, largely because I feel like I lucked out with my awesome placement and don’t think it could get better than this. But when AMINEF’s offer came I decided to accept because… why not? Saying “no” to such a great opportunity out of fear of disappointment is plain silly. Wherever I am next year (**cough** Kendari or Surabaya **cough**) it will definitely be different from Pangkal Pinang, but I’ll just have to remember my lessons from AFS: It is not better or worse, just different.
There is a lot I am looking forward to during the next year in Indonesia. Things like continuing to improve my bahasa Indonesia and putting all of the lessons I am learning as a teacher to use with new students will be great and oh so rewarding. Other things like constantly being stared at and utter lack of forward thinking or planning are not so exciting. But I know that next year the good bits will outweigh the downer moments, as always seems to happen in life.
So what will happen after my second grant is up in May 2017? You better believe I’ve been thinking about it. But the future is full of surprises, so who knows where I’ll end up next? But one thing I do know for sure: no one is more excited than me to find out.