Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

Indonesia Semester

Community, Culture & Conservation

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

Enroll
Duration
83 Days
Description

Experience the majesty of the most diverse archipelago on Earth: live with a remote jungle tribe, harvest seaweed with sea gypsies and discuss conservation initiatives with local experts.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2018


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2017


Fall Availability

closed

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

28 Weeks

Fall Begins In

8 Weeks

Land Cost

$14,610


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,960

Ubud, Bali

Manado

Luwuk

Tana Toraja

Makassar

Morowali

Wakatobi

Langa, Flores

Program Overview

Spanning from Malaysia to Australia, with over 17,000 equatorial islands, Indonesia hosts the world’s highest level of biodiversity and one of the richest cultural tapestries on earth.


Dragons’ Indonesia semester program takes students on an ethnographic adventure into remote communities and ecosystems rarely visited by travelers. Comprised of over 17,000 islands and 700 living languages, Indonesia is home to the highest level of biodiversity of any nation. As the largest Muslim nation in the world, students examine how Islam has influenced and adapted to Indonesian society, while also looking at how other religious traditions concurrently thrive. Throughout the semester program students experience the complexities and controversies of development, conservation, and human ecology.

Our program begins in the cultural and artistic heart of the island of Java – the city of Yogyakarta. A dynamic center of cultural preservation and learning, the modern and the ancient coexist in Yogyakarta’s streets amidst a diverse community from points all over Indonesia mix in a rich social tapestry. Ritual crafts of the gamelan orchestra, Javanese dance, and shadow-puppet theater…

Dragons’ Indonesia semester program takes students on an ethnographic adventure into remote communities and ecosystems rarely visited by travelers. Comprised of over 17,000 islands and 700 living languages, Indonesia is home to the highest level of biodiversity of any nation. As the largest Muslim nation in the world, students examine how Islam has influenced and adapted to Indonesian society, while also looking at how other religious traditions concurrently thrive. Throughout the semester program students experience the complexities and controversies of development, conservation, and human ecology.

Our program begins in the cultural and artistic heart of the island of Java – the city of Yogyakarta. A dynamic center of cultural preservation and learning, the modern and the ancient coexist in Yogyakarta’s streets amidst a diverse community from points all over Indonesia mix in a rich social tapestry. Ritual crafts of the gamelan orchestra, Javanese dance, and shadow-puppet theater continue to be performed for the surrounding community as they have been for centuries. Students learn rudiments of Indonesian language, visit important cultural sites, engage in independent studies and integrate themselves into the Javanese society through their home-stay hosts.

We then head east to the island of Flores, one of the most singular isles ecologically and anthropologically in the expansive archipelago. Here students live in the pastoral village of Langa with Christian families who have honed their unique three-tiered agricultural practices over centuries. The people of Langa practice ancestor worship and build ceremonial spirit houses in front of their homes. While on Flores, we explore plural spirituality, learn about coffee production, hike spectacular volcanoes and build a deeper understanding of diversity and rural development models.

Our next location is the island of Sulawesi where a few flights and an overnight boat trip takes us to the southeastern archipelago of Wakatobi, an extraordinary National Marine Park and home to the Bajau people (otherwise known as “sea nomads”). The Bajau build their homes over the open ocean, living close to the marine ecosystem from which they draw their sustenance. Staying in the stilted bamboo huts of Sampela, we learn about Bajau culture, practices, and religion. Students snorkel over fragile coral reefs, learn from host fathers how to fish with spears and nets, attend indigenous ceremonies, visit endangered mangrove ecosystems, and look at various paradigms of environmental conservation through interviews with government and community leaders. Dragons Indonesia students learn firsthand about the unique worldview and lifestyle of the Bajau, and their deep-rooted connection to the sea.

In ecology, a “niche” refers to a role taken by a kind of organism within its community. As we explore the many unique indigenous communities of Indonesia and their dynamic relationships to the world, we begin to understand that our “community” extends far beyond the people in our own towns to all of the life forms that sustain us. The concentrated diversity of Indonesia is the perfect place to explore the unique roles and paths we each forge on this planet.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Examine Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, as well as Animist and Shamanistic traditions, with a focus on religious pluralism, rituals and festivals/ceremonies, religious conflict and resolution.

5/5
Development Studies

Explore the impacts of modernization and development as they relate to ecology and land-use within protected and un-protected areas. Delve into issues of political marginalization and under-representation, participatory development vs. non-participatory development, and conservation -- both ecological and cultural.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Study ancient, imperial, and modern politics and the development of market economy; gender and race studies; cultural and environmental preservation; marginalized and dominant cultural communities.

2/5
Home Stay

Spend time in three homestays of two weeks or longer in both urban (Jogyakarta) and traditional communities (Langa, Sampela) and begin to understand their natural environments, cultures and political significance to Indonesia.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Pursue self-selected studies of issues that are pertinent to the communities we visit, as well as deep engagement with the Indonesia world of arts (gamelan, shadow-puppetry, street art, yoga, dance) and culture.

3/5
Language Study

Learn Bahasa Indonesia (as well as some Javanese) through introductory lessons (10 hours per week), communication with home-stay families and language immersion throughout the course.

1/5
Learning Service

Teach English in rural schools, represent communities through writing projects, work with local NGOs on conservation projects, assist families during home-stays. Less than 10 hours of service credit earned.

5/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by bus, truck, ferry, small boats, and dugout canoe, sleep in hammocks on jungle treks, camp on crater rims during volcano treks, trekking and day hikes, plenty of marine-based travel.

3/5
Trekking

Hike through rice paddies and on jungle trails in Flores, moderate hikes to the summit of volcanoes on Java and Flores, short treks in the jungles of Borneo and Java on narrow footpaths.

About Components
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