My First Trip to Eastern Indonesia

Last November, I and other twelve volunteers from Jakarta, Denpasar, Tobelo, and Manokwari were traveling to Serui to share our enthusiasm in improving Indonesian education to teachers in Kabupaten Kepulauan Yapen, Papua. We happily spent our time and energy as our contribution for this beloved country in a volunteering movement, Ruang Berbagi Ilmu (RuBI).

Most of us chose Yapen as our volunteering destination since it was one of the farthest places in RuBI 2018. We might have no idea whether we would visit there unless it was for an important moment like RuBI. Flying from Jakarta to Yapen was like flying from Paris to Moscow but without any direct transportation. To get to Yapen, we had to take flight from Jakarta to Biak, via Makassar. Then from Biak, we had to take another flight or take a local ship to cross to Serui. Darius, one of the volunteers, even had to drive for four hours from Tobelo to get to the nearest airport in Ternate, before flying to Makassar, Biak, and Serui. And we did all those trips voluntarily without any sponsor. 😊

"Unity in Diversity" (Papua Hei, Yapen, 2018) – 📸 by Darius

Preparation for Papua
The volunteers were not random people. We had to submit an essay about why we wanted to join this program and what we would share to teachers in remote area. After the committee carefully assessed our essays and selected the applicants in September 2018, we gathered in Jakarta to have briefing and get to know with each other. We then met for several times to understand who our audiences were. We learned that the local education activists in Yapen came from various elements in the society, not only teachers but also pastors, army, and professionals. We also gathered few times to discuss about our knowledge sharing materials. We carefully prepared every materials to share with those experienced teachers.

And eventhough the number of volunteers in our group decreased from 30 to 13 people due to various circumstances (well, it was a voluntary activity, nobody could be forced to do anything), we kept our enthusiasm high because we learned that kids in Yapen were very enthuastic to come to school to learn from their teachers although those kids had to walk quite far to get to school. 💪🏽

[Briefing Relawan Narasumber dan Dokumentator RuBI 2018] Puji syukur briefing relawan narasumber dan dokumentator RuBI hari Sabtu kemarin telah berjalan dengan lancar. Acara ini dihadiri oleh 64 orang narasumber dan 14 orang dokumentator. Antusiasme energi positif sangat terasa di setiap sesinya. Relawan itu bergerak dan menggerakkan untuk saling berkolaborasi. Terus semangat untuk bergerak meningkatkan kualitas pendidikan Indonesia yang lebih baik lagi. Penggerak RuBI 2018, Bergerak Bersama, Berbagi Selamanya ! ___________________________________ Facebook dan Youtube : Ruang Berbagi Ilmu Instagram dan Twitter : @rberbagi_ilmu Website : #RuangBerbagiIlmu #Relawan #RelawanRuBI #RelawanRuBI2018 #RuBIBersama #RuBIIstimewa #RuBIKolaborAksi #BergerakBersama #berbagiselamanya #briefingrelawan
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From the moment I wrote my essay to join RuBI Yapen, I remember Bu Helena, my science teacher in SMP St. Mikael Cimahi, who moved to Papua 16 years ago. She and her husband started a ministry and built a school in Jayapura. Right after the announcement of selected volunteers, I contacted Bu Helena and asked her if I can visit her school for few days, and she happily welcome me. I invited other RuBI volunteers to join me, and Andreas was willing to allocate more time to share happiness to elementary and middle school students in Sekolah Papua Kasih.

I also conducted some research about tourism in Papua, but unfortunately there were only few references about traveling in Jayapura, Biak, and Serui. Most articles I got were from TripAdvisor and some outdated blogs. Other information like local public transportation (flight, boat, bus, etc) were also very limited. Surely there were a lot of homeworks for the government tourism office of Papua to promote the beautiful sides of Papua besides Raja Ampat.

Visiting Sekolah Papua Kasih
Monday morning, November 12th, Andreas and I finally set our feet in the land of Papua, the easternmost island of Indonesia, after flying for 7+ hours from Jakarta. We were picked up by Pak Dedy at Sentani airport and we directly went to Sekolah Papua Kasih (SPK), around 40 minutes by car. And finally.. after 17 years.. I met Bu Helena again, and she was still very kind as I could recall my childhood memory when I was a middle school kid. She had arranged all agenda for me and Andreas during our two days stay in Jayapura.

Manakah yang lebih penting, istirahat atau berbagi? . Jujur saya juga masih belajar mengenai hal ini. Sampai di Papua pukul 8.00 WIT bersama dengan jet lag dan kurang tidur karena perjalanan jauh. Tetapi begitu berhadapan dengan anak-anak luar biasa ini, saya langsung mematikan keinginan istirahatku dan langsung berbagi. . Apa yang mereka dapatkan? Listen and obey... dari kumpulan anak penuh antusias yang penasaran dengan musik dan berebut ingin mendengar musik akirnya mereka belajar apa artinya diam dan dengarkan dengan seksama. Kau akan mendengar keindahan, kasih, lemah lembut dan arti hidupmu dari sana. . Kebanggaan terbesarku bukan hanya bisa bermusik di hadapan raja-raja saja tetapi juga bermusik untuk berbagi arti hidup ini. . @papuakasih #papua #papuakasih #anakpapua #relawan #violin #violinist #violinatpapua #listenandobey
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As I was asked to share some inspiration stories to elementary and middle school students there, I shared about my journey as a software engineer (and now running a digital consulting firm), as I usually share in Kelas Inspirasi. However, this time was very special since it was the first time I taught in a christian school, so that everytime I finished my session, those kids were saying prayer for me. I felt so blessed that they were so innocent and sincere in offering prayers and saying good luck things for me. What a wonderful moment! ❤️

I also shared my life journey to teachers and staffs in SPK. I told them that Bu Helena was my teacher back in Bandung more than a decade ago, and they were surprised about how long she had been a teacher. I believe that everything that those beloved teachers do for kids in Papua will never be wasteful, as God promises that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. 🙏🏼

Outside teaching and learning activities, Bu Helena, Pak Bagoes (Bu Helena's husband) and some SPK teachers / staffs (Bro Douglas, Bu Tedi, Pak Steven) invited us to look around Jayapura. On the first day, we visited MacArthur hill where we could enjoy the beauty of Sentani lake from above. This place used to be a US military basecamp in World War II. We also had nice dinner nearby Sentani lake with papeda kuah ikan kuning, the most famous traditional food of Papua contains sagu and fish soup. 🤩 In the second day, we visited Love Lake in Sentani, where it looked like a giant heart from above. We also visited Bukit Jokowi and Jayapura City Tower to view the beauty of this city from above during afternoon and night time. ✨

And during the last dinner in Jayapura, Pak Bagoes & Bu Helena told us many stories about their ministry in Papua, the ups and downs, at both works and family. I learned at least three important things from Pak Bagoes & Bu Helena. Firstly, we need to have a grand vision about our life and about what we do. Secondly, we need a solid team (inner circle) who have the right DNA and culture. And lastly, we need to think about the impact of our existence. If you don't exist today, what will be missing from this world?  In summary.. when we are following God's calling, it will not be always easy, but God will provide everything that we really need. 😇

From Jayapura to Biak to Serui
Wednesday morning, November 13th, it was time to say goodbye to those lovely kids and teachers in SPK, as we had to rush to the airport by motorcycle. Initially we booked our flight Jayapura to Biak to Serui since it was cheaper than direct flight Jayapura to Serui because of sales promotion from Sriwijaya Air. However, until D-1 we couldn't get the flight ticket for Biak to Serui because there was only one flight from Biak to Serui, Trigana Air, and it was already booked by Borneo FC that was going to have play football with Perseru Serui on that weekend. So once we arrived at Frans Kaisiepo International Airport, Biak at 11am, we rushed to get ojek to get to Port of Biak, gambled ourselves whether there was ship to Yapen.

We eventually managed to get into Express Bahari ship just before noon. The ticket price for economy class was Rp 472,000. During this voyage to Serui, I met an army major who just led a military operation in the central of Papua and he told us that there were many 'red zones' there and our army were still working hard to help create peace among native community there. One of the methods that used by Indonesian army was through improving education in Papua, so that people would have better life quality and be proud to be part of Indonesia. After 7 hours of doing nothing other than blathering with Andreas and other random ship passenger, we finally arrived at the Port of Serui. Later on we met Kiki and Nikma, then we went directly to our basecamp to meet all other volunteers who already arrived earlier in the morning.

Meeting the Local Volunteers
Thursday afternoon, November 14th, we visited the headquarter of military district command (KODIM 1709 Yapen Waropen) and Sekolah Kristen Kasih Bangsa. Both places were provided free of charge for us to hold RuBI. Thanks to the commander and the headmaster, both were influential movers in Serui. They were working with the core volunteering committee (teachers and staffs from Muhammadiyah school) helped us provide venue, transportation, and even lunch for all RuBI participants. All were free of charge. Their dedications for education in Papua were very inspiring for me.

RuBI Yapen : Day 1
Friday, November 15th, was the first day of RuBI Yapen. We finally met more than 100 highly-motivated teachers from all corners of Kabupaten Kepulauan Yapen in KODIM Serui. They voluntarily came and joined this program eventhough we didn't provide any monetary incentive to them. Their enthusiasm gave us extra energy to share about what we prepared before.

On the first day, we brought "Teachers' Motivation" as our main topic, which its objective was to support those teachers to motivate themselves and their less-motivated colleagues. We divided our first day program into four sessions: teacher contemplation, self-assessment, positive communication, and dream visualization. In the first session, we invited those teacher to ponder why their role is very important to the society. In the second session, we shared about SWOT framework to analyze ourselves. We needed to use a very simple terms in Bahasa so that those teachers could understand easily. Third session, about positive communication, we played an interactive game with the teachers to show them that there were many points of view about anything and their students could have different point of view to them, so we should choose the right way of communication to solve every problem. Lastly, we asked all teachers to dream big because it would be imparting to their students to dream bigger. We delivered all these sessions in a fun way and tried so hard that we didn't just preach to those teachers because they actually have more experience than us. We, as volunteers, only had avant-garde different methods to motivate those beloved teachers.

Papua Hei : Local Education Community
After we finished the first day sessions, we walked to the yard of the commander's house to see Papua Hei activities. Papua Hei is a volunteering program initiated by Bu Ratna, wife of Pak Pulung (Dandim 1709/Yawa), to teach kids in Serui, not only math and English, but also patriotism. The voluntary teachers in Papua Hei were mostly from the army and their wives. It's been running for several years in four villages in Yapen. We saw a truly extraordinary sincerity from those volunteers to improve the future generation of Papua. Blessed are the sincere!

/•i choose to involve•/ In @rberbagi_ilmu yapen, i found so much heart warming stories. She is one of the volunteer from @papuahei . I was moved of how she changed from a common housewife who only takes care of her family into someone who cares about children education in her island sincerely. Everyone has their own reason to do so, and her was ibu ratna, the founder of papua hei. She ia a role model who won't take things for granted when it comes to children of papua. Choosing to be involved isnt easy, it demands your intergrity and commitment. Thank you for putting your heart in there and being a part of papua hei from the very beginning. World needs more people like you #storyfromyapen #papuahei #teamRuBIyapen #ruangberbagiilmu #indonesia #storyfromtheeast #documentary #videomaker #childrenofpapua #spreadgoodvibes
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RuBI Yapen : Day 2
Saturday, November 16th, we gathered at Sekolah Kristen Kasih Bangsa at 7am. We brought "Creative Learning Method" as our main topic for the second day program. Our objective was to empower teachers in Yapen to be more creative in delivering lessons to their students. As volunteers, we prepared this material based on our experience at workplace mixed with debriefing materials from RuBI committee.

We divided our second day program into three sessions: brain-based teaching, creative methods, and human memory. In the first session we played games with the teachers while introducing several concepts: left brain vs. right brain, visual vs. auditory vs. kinesthetic learning styles, focused vs. diffused thinking, and supporting environment for effective learning. We preferred to play some kind of party games to explain each concept instead of lecturing those teachers. In the second session we prepared some examples of creative methods in delivering lessons to kids, such as snowball throwing (for general purposes), experiments (for physics), make-a-match (for history), picture-non-picture (for biology), outdoor activity (for language), etc. Lastly, we recapped all materials we had delivered all day while explaining about how to bridge short-term memory to long-term memory.

After we completed all sharing sessions, we gathered in the school hall for reflection session. We asked some teachers to share about what they learned and what they felt about 2-days of RuBI Yapen. All of them were excited and touched because they felt that they are not alone. There were so many people who were also care for education in Papua. There were many collagues who were voluntarily organizing this event and coming to Serui from remote areas in Yapen although they didn't get paid from this program. In the end, we felt very blessed that what we shared in Yapen was something useful for them to encourage themselves to serve others by teaching kids in Papua to create a better future. Overall, all teachers were happy and they said they learned many things from the volunteers. To God be the glory. 🙏🏼

Getting Around Serui City
Well.. not many things to do in Serui. On Monday morning most people in Serui went to church, so most shops were closed. Too bad both electricity and phone signal were off that morning. I then borrowed Pak Har's motorbike to get around Serui city and finally saw Trikora city square and Marora stadium, the home of Perseru Serui. I also found a small stall nearby city square that sold very delicious snacks (jajanan pasar).

There was one our favourite coffeshop in Serui, that was Kopi Yoi, where we spent almost every night there to get some caffeine, Indomie goreng, or maybe ayam geprek. This coffee shop was owned by Kak Agis, one of the local volunteers, who helped us organize and provide snacks for two days of RuBI. We were very thankful to her and all friends there.

Reflection at Sarawandori Beach
Sunday afternoon, two trucks from KODIM 1709 came to our house and picked us up for reflection session with RuBI local volunteers. They brought us to Sarawandori Beach where Serui people usually take vacation. The view was nice. We had good lunch with all other volunteers and teachers.

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Then we moved to Sarawandori Bay for more discussion. In this session, we (volunteers from Jakarta) really appreciated the local volunteers because this was the first time they arrange RuBI and they did it sucessfully despite miscommunication in the beginning of formation of the committe. We also shared about our journey to each other and in the end we became more aware that there was only sincerity that moved us this far. We closed this session with tears of joy, and together we jumped to the bay and swam happily. Later on the night, we gathered again in one of the teachers' house and she cooked some local foods for us including the infamous papeda kuah ikan kuning. Yummy!

See You, Serui!
Monday morning, we rushed from our basecamp to Stevanus Rumbewas Airport which located quite far from the city. It took almost an hour by car from Serui city. There was only one airline and one route that operated in Serui, which was Trigana Air (Biak to Serui). My friends who took this flight from Biak to Serui in the previous week said that the flight experience was terrible, no seat number, no aircon, and even saggy window. However, when we took the flight back from Serui to Biak, it was better, the aircon worked, window was okay, and well.. no seat number, but it's okay. The ticket was hand-written paper without any information about seat number 😅 despite its quite expensive price, Rp 670,000 for 30 minutes flight.

One Day Trip in Biak
Hello (again) Biak, but this time it was more relaxed, no need to rush to anywhere. We booked two rooms in a modest hotel in the city. When we finally felt like home where we got good mattress and cool aircon.. few minutes later, the electricity was off because power failure in Biak city 😂 We then booked two cars to kill our boredom and drove around Biak island.

Our first destination was the west coast of Biak, which was Pantai Samber. It was around 15km from the city. When we got there, we just realized that there was a big event held by the central bank there, Festival Ikan Biak. There was exhibition of handycrafts, fishes, fruits, and some local foods. We just stayed in the beach for an hour, relaxing and doing nothing, it felt luxurious after few days full of activities in Serui. Too bad my phone was broke so I couldn't take any photo of this beautiful view.

From Samber Beach, Gibran brought us to a cave in the east cost of Biak island, Goa Kali Biru. It was like a hidden gem, we just drove to the east side of the island, and stopped in the middle of our trip, asked some local kids to open the zinc 'gate', went downstair, and voila! we found a beautiful cave! Its color was blue and the water was cold. We swam there for almost an hour until dusk and went back to the city.

It was a great one-day trip and it was closed with a surprise in the night. We witnessed fire nearby our hotel, just 100 meters away. People were panic to save their treasures. Some people were evacuated in our hotel with their families. We even got ready, packed our valuable things in our backpack, just in case the fire spread to our place. Thank goodness, it stopped just before midnight so we can took a rest and woke up fresh to catch morning flight back to Jakarta.. 😌

It was my greatest trip experience in 2018, eight days in Papua, meeting many new friends. I'm grateful to work with all volunteers from Jakarta (Andreas, Martha, Meylin, Pipit, Raras, Rifa, Riri), Tobelo (Darius), and Manokwari (Pace Jo), with all cool voluntary photographers (Dito, Gibran, Kyo), and with all local volunteers in Serui (Pak Harianto, Nikma, Kiki, and friends).

I was blessed to meet all the teachers who voluntarily join RuBI Yapen. It was so encouraging when I saw people who were very enthusiastic to improve Indonesian education in remote area. People like them are my source of inspiration. If you want to join RuBI, go follow @rberbagi_ilmu to get the updates about when the next batch of RuBI will be held.

I also felt recharged because it was my first time experience I spent a week without my phone. It was a good exercise for more regular digital detox. See you in another digital detox experience, fulfilled with positive people in positive situation!

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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