On November 13th, I tagged along on another field trip, this time with my 11th grade social science students. The field trip was to the Boalemo district of the Gorontalo province. The students were researching the Bajo people who live in villages along the southern coast in this district of Gorontalo.
Upon arriving in Boalemo, we were invited to meet the mayor at the local government office and then, after meeting the mayor, we were welcomed to the Bajo village by the leader of the Bajo people. It was incredible. Their culture is based entirely around the water, and the first thing we saw were young boys (maybe age 6) swimming and paddling wooden boats. I’ve never seen such fluidity in the water. The kids didn’t know swimming strokes, but their comfort in the water was second nature to a striking degree. Here are some photographs of the boys swimming and paddling the boats:There was extreme poverty in this village, and they don’t have a consistent source of drinking and bathing water nor any sort of plumbing. Here are some of my students outside homes in the village (my students are wearing the blue hijabs):
The Bajo community was overwhelmingly welcoming. We were invited into many homes, and I got to listen to my students conduct interviews. We could communicate, sort of, in Bahasa Indonesia, but they primarily speak Bahasa Bajo; they don’t speak Bahasa Gorontalo, which is the regional language throughout most of the Gorontalo province, which several of my students can speak. Being inside their homes was eye-opening, there wasn’t any furniture, no beds either, only occasionally plastic chairs. They were especially curious about me as I was the first “bule” (pronounced: boo-lay; foreigner) they had ever met. Here I am talking with some of the kids after they gave me a tour of one of their homes:
And then saying goodbye.