There they are. Day 1 of the service trip to Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia, after we landed in the Palu airport. I am supervising, along with my Head of School and his wife, and the amazing Miss Erina, a group of twelve students from my school while they extend their hand to the people of Palu.
Our school has a week wherein all the students are supposed to be working in some sort of service. My students are in Palu, working in a Primary school, two childrens’ homes (not orphanages, because not all of the children are orphans – some live in the home because their parents can’t afford to keep them, but they still have parents), an “agro bisnis”, and a school of 2000 students. All of these places are run by the Salvation Army here in Palu.
I need to clarify one major point here: it is a service week, and my students are working here, but the week is really about exposing the students to a part of their world that is unfamiliar to them. In a very real sense, my students are aware that the world does not live as they do – they are well off, they attend a private international school, they have drivers and helpers – but many of them have never experienced the world that is not like theirs. So…we are offering them an opportunity to make a connection, a personal connection, with that world. Today they met the primary school children and my students were overwhelmed by these children and their love and generosity and attention and beauty and energy. As we debriefed the day, my students couldn’t help but gush about how the day went.
Tomorrow is day three, and it looks like this trip might be life-changing, and life-affirming.
The building you see behind them, by the way, is not the Palu airport. That is the future Palu airport. The current one rivals landing next to an auction house in which everyone smokes and people jockey for your luggage as soon as you have it in your hand. Good times.