To say that I’ve longed for the comforts of sleeping in a bed, is possibly the understatement of the year for myself. After beginning this adventure early on in the morning with little sleep on Thursday, I now have started my first day in Indonesia, which thankfully they’ve given us to adjust to the time change. Somehow I’ve adjusted I think admirably well to the change, all things considered. This mainly due in large part to constantly fighting sleeping during the grueling 13 hour flight, the 4 hour layover in Japan, and only sleeping a little when we were headed to our destination in Jakarta on a 7 hour flight. Setting my clock on my phone when we were in Houston to Jakarta time helped me begin to adjust my body clock to the new timing schedule. After touching down at around midnight, Jakarta time, our group was giddy with excitement on the inside, but probably looked more akin to zombies. As I exited the terminal, hints of Asian architecture surrounded us with statues of dragons and Buddhist artifacts. A drowsy smile strewn across my face as we swiftly made our way through customs. Being greeted by Daywee (spelling on that to come), she was showering us with much needed enthusiasm as we waiting for our bus to take us to the Le Meridian Hotel in Jakarta. The amber lit midnight sky radiated as we waited for the shuttle to arrive. To my surprise, vehicles were driving on the left side of the road. One we boarded our spacious coach bus, I peered from my window in awe at the massive skyscraper buildings. Truth be told, seeing the massive buildings is not unique, but the minute variances in their appearances and design offered enough change from the often mundane gothic to modern buildings littering the Detroit skyline. To our sheer relief, at around 1:30am the bus made a sharp turn through a guarded gate to the hotel, where they inspected us through a metal detector. Getting access to my room was a sweet, sweet feeling. The opulence of the hotel left me speechless. In the mad rush to get to my room, it wouldn’t be until a stomach flipping moment caused me to rush backdown to the lobby when I forgot my book bag, which had my passport. Thankfully they put it aside for me (this also happened on the first night in Germany!). Longing for home even in the midst of this amazing new environment, I called my wife who was just getting up with Aiden. The benefits of technology letting me obtain a sense of home when being halfway around the world is appreciated. To see my little one at piece getting ready to start the day put a smile on my face. Throughout the waiting in the airport, I would monitor him on our “Cubcam” baby monitor at home. Again, giving me the reassurance that he’s really not that far away. Saying goodnight (or would that be good morning?), inside my lavish hotel room, I thankfully was moderately tired after getting about 4 hours of sleep on the last flight. I crashed in bed, but woke up at around 6am, waiting two hour before breakfast and officially starting my first full day in Indonesia.
The epic journey to Indonesia begins. We are 3 hours on our way from Houston to Japan, a 13 hour trip. With the 7 hours from Tokyo to Jakarta following being a mere blip on the time radar. Kissing my wife and little goodbye in the wee hours of the morning was an unenviable task, though now reality has set in that I am on a mission to Indonesia, to learn about another culture, so far from from my own. I must admit, never did I think ten years ago I would be traveling as much as I have. Being fortunate to experience the world as much as I have, has been a blessing, and I’m sure Indonesia will be the same. This trip is the culmination of a lot of time and work. Sitting with Anu and enjoying a conversations on National Parks and fellowships has made time go by a little faster. Technically it is 2am in Jakarta, but it’s 3:43pm and I’m running on 3 hours of sleep. I need to get some sleep now, but it’s not happening. Simply put, I’m too excited about what is coming ahead (continued hours later after an announcement stopped my writing, followed by me getting a quick catnap). Trying to adjust my sleep is key to my success, and I’m hoping to stay up as long as I can. It seems like old friends with the people from IREX, even though we’ve only known each other through Facebook and from our quick 3 days in Washington DC. Here’s to 3 weeks in Indonesia. It seems so far away at times on the plane, but I’m so close to the culmination of all this excitement.
It's so close to happening. After a long time of preparation, I'll soon be traveling to Indonesia with IREX. Going back to January 2016 when I was applying for this application to a year and a half later, a lot has happened to help me prepare for this journey. Fast forward to September when I took a rigorous ten week course to learn about global education. With an impending pregnancy taking up much of my time, on top of normal work obligations, participating in the program was an effort in time management. The class pushed me further than any other online course has ever pushed me. Incorporating copious types of technology project with the theme of global education, I thoroughly enjoyed this class. I've participated in the Global Education Symposium in Washington DC with my principal. This was a great opportunity to reaffirm the goals of IREX, as well as bring my principal on board with the program's mission for global education. After finding out that I'll be partnering with Doug Banwart, we were partnered up with Rudhi Julianto in Purwokerto, Indonesia. We've worked together and created what seems to be a life changing itinerary in Purwokerto. I'm SUPER excited about the temples we'll be visiting, the wedding we are attending, the Indian Ocean, and Baturraden Park, amongst many other experiences. On top of this, I'm thrilled to visit Rudhi's school and collaborate with the teacher's at his school and learn, share, and experience the world with SNMP 8 in Indonesia. Yesterday I found out what I'll be doing in Jakarta, and it sounds thrilling. We'll be learning about global education with the big group of 15 IREXers. We'll also be able see and taste much of the city's offerings. Lastly, I have to pack, something that I've been strategically preparing for, with me being gone for 3 weeks. I know a common theme throughout the trip will be how I miss my wife and my newborn son, but their support for me on this life changing journey means the world to me.
About Matthew Cottone
Experience the World! This is my creed I bring to my classroom and my life. I'm a World Studies teacher at Van Hoosen Middle School and I have a passion for learning and experiencing the world.