Travis Bluemling – Diversity

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Name: Travis Bluemling
Country of Service: Indonesia 2010-12
Assignment: Education
Recruitment Focus: Diverse populations

Where did you hope to go, or what did you hope to do in the Peace Corps?
When I applied to the Peace Corps I indicated that I was open for any country, but in my heart I wanted to go somewhere in West Africa. There was no particular reason I wanted to go there, but it was a location I thought would be fascinating to learn about firsthand. In the end, I never served on the African continent, but rather in a country I knew nothing about – Indonesia. It was the best change of events that ever happened in my life, because I got to volunteer in one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a community that was very welcoming and excited.

What was a typical day like?
My typical day began with a wake-up call from the call to prayer at around 4:15 a.m. I used the call as an indicator that I had one more hour of sleep before I had to get up and begin getting ready for school. After getting my things together, I would take the long one-minute walk to my high school, where I would eat breakfast at my host grandmother’s canteen with the students. Then, from around 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., I was either teaching in a classroom, lesson planning, or facilitating different after-school activities (English club, soccer club, basketball club, taekwondo club or volleyball). On any given day after school, I would hold English lessons, play volleyball or soccer, or go to the local spring for a swim with local children. In the evenings I would either attend a Muslim meeting or go to my host grandmother’s house for dinner, games, and TV. At around 7 p.m., I would walk home, go to bed, and fall asleep while watching an American TV show on my laptop.

What was your greatest moment?
As any Peace Corps volunteer can tell you, it is very difficult to pick just one “greatest moment,” as there are so many over the course of two years. The one that popped into my head first was when my student U’un and I went on her first visit to a college. She and I went to a nursing school in the city, and before walking into the school doors, I told U’un that once we enter the building, she would be my translator and that I was not going to speak any Indonesian. She did an amazing job playing translator (although I understood everything that was being said), and as we were running down the main road to catch the last bus home, she looked at me and said, “I will never forget this day!” She is now about to graduate from that nursing program and wants to travel throughout Indonesia and other countries around the world as a nurse, working in communities that need the most help.

What is your favorite souvenir from your country?
My favorite souvenir from Indonesia is a hand-painted picture from one of my students. At the end of my service, an elderly neighbor passed away, and both my student and I attended the prayer service for seven consecutive days. Over the seven days of sitting together, I learned that he wanted to be a painter when he graduated. Two weeks before I was to leave, his father passed away, which made it impossible for him, as the eldest son, to really leave his house/community post-graduation and pursue his painting career. I asked another volunteer who was an artist if she had any supplies lying around that she would be willing to donate. After gathering numerous canvases, paint, pens, and water-colors, I went to his house and offered him all the supplies; he was beyond grateful. Once he did his first painting, he offered it to me as a thank you. That piece of art hangs on my wall to this day.

Travis supports Peace Corps’ efforts to recruit volunteers from underrepresented communities by helping people of all ages and racial and ethnic backgrounds learn about opportunities to serve. 

Peace Corps actively recruits people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to best share our nation’s greatest resource – its people – with the communities where volunteers serve around the globe.The Peace Corps welcomes people from every background and does not discriminate against anyone based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (50 or over), disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, union membership, genetic information, or prior participation in protected activity including grievance proceedings.Visit Peace Corps’ website to find out more about who volunteers.

Search current event listings and sign up for more info to receive notices about Peace Corps events near you. Questions about life as a volunteer or the application process? Contact Travis directly at tbluemling@peacecorps.gov.

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