Dear Pak Jongki,
You have worked for the past several months with Bella Tirtowalujo, a doctoral student at Michigan State University and one of the co-facilitators of the MSU Indonesia Study Tour. I know that you and Bella worked tirelessly to put together a program that would fit our very limited budget; I know as well that you revised that program several times as various requests and requirements came in from our side of the equation.
I am writing now as the faculty member who led the tour, to provide feedback on the tour, on the services and personnel, and on the overall experience of the MSU group.
Let me begin by thanking you profusely for the hard work you put in, and the many times you went back to revise the itinerary to meet our changing needs. I know we were a challenging group, and you did a splendid job setting up a program that was wide-ranging, diverse, economical, and of high quality.
I especially want to compliment you on the Java staff that accompanied us in Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta. Pak Kandi, Pak Udin and Mas Oman were wonderful—they became part of our group, and an important part of our introduction to Indonesia. They were helpful, thoughtful, cooperative, skilled in their own ways at what they were asked to do and so much more. Pak Kandi, the guide, seems to know everything (!); his English is impeccable, his good humor unflagging. He was flexible and innovative, and found ways to meet our ever-changing needs that were creative and responsive. He is a wonderful story-teller, both on and off the microphone. What a great way to learn about the island of Java and history of Indonesia!
Pak Udin, the driver, was also wonderful; he always made us feel we were in good hands—and we were. It was hard to believe some of the tight spaces he got us into and out of—all with the help of Oman, who anticipated our needs (met us with umbrellas when we were shopping before we even realized it was raining!) and greeted us each day with his warm and welcoming smile. The trio was a highlight of our first two weeks, and I sincerely hope we get to work with all three of them again.
The Bali staff was also good, but our time with them was shorter and our interactions were limited; Pak Murjana was knowledgeable and thoughtful and also a good storyteller and we appreciated very much the time we spent with him.
As well, most of the eating places were extremely good. Our favorites were Dapur Babah, Atmosphere, the village lunch near Borobudur, and the Jimbaran seaside meal, which was a great way to end the trip. I was very grateful for the excellent vegetarian options that were arranged by Pak Kandi.
We at MSU will be rethinking our side of things so that our next visit will not need to have so many changes--this first time meant we had a lot to learn from the institutional side of things (like budgets and schedules) and the Indonesia side of things; in the meantime, thank you for all the ways you supported our plans from afar, and revised the schedule (and accommodations) in the moment.
Dr. Laura Apol
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI, 48824