“Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” – Unity in Diversity (Indonesia’s National Motto)

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I seriously don’t have a better picture of myself. Sorry!

Hi! My name is Steven Sola and I am extremely lucky and happy to be given the opportunity to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Indonesia for 27 months.

I like stargazing, photography, rock climbing, climbing videos, getting lost, nature, double rainbows, double entendres, double exposures, double stuffed Oreos, bad puns, good jokes, cheesy pick-up lines (especially chemistry ones), period 5 math raps, my middle name, cop shows, America, apple pie, Canadians, exploring the world, world peace, Christopher McCandless, Stephen King, Emma Watson, Big Fish, the Poop in a Hole video, spatulas, San Francisco, “C’est la vie”, unicycles, great dane puppies, baby seals, turtles, real bears, gummy bears, fresh chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, s’mores, nutella, marshmallows, melted cheese,  and smiling.

Born and raised in the East Bay, 30 miles east of San Francisco. I graduated Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas with a BA in Sociology and an AA in Criminal Justice. I believe the purpose of life is to be constantly happy and helping people whenever you can. Sacrificing your resources for another human is the best thing that one person can do for another. My greatest aspiration is to see as much of the world as I can. I am looking into going to grad school after finishing the Peace Corps and working internationally in a development job.


I currently teach at a 900-student SMK (vocational high school) a couple of hours west of the regional capital of East Java, Surabaya. I teach 10th and 11th grade, 20 hours a week. Along with my teaching duties, I help my counterpart do intensive tutoring with a couple of students from the school who we feel are highly motivated to learn English. 


The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since that time, 210,000+ Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

And yes, I shamelessly lifted that completely from the Peace Corps site. Go here and here to learn more about the Peace Corps. to get a firsthand look at the Peace Corps, I suggest you go to the wonderful Peace Corps Journals site. Also, check out the video below. It’s awesome. I think everyone in the Peace Corps/thinking about going into the Peace Corps should watch it. It’s made by the PCVs of Vanuatu, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Indonesia!


*NOTE: If you’re applying for the Peace Corps and are looking at my timeline below…well don’t be scared. I ran into some major delays meeting the requirements for getting nominated because people in Russellville, Arkansas are extremely disorganized, and not having a car limited my range for volunteering at ESL programs. And as far as the medical clearance, I had medical complications that couldn’t be fixed until May 2012. I couldn’t get cleared until that was fully healed. So I’m not the best example for a timeline, but the best advice I can give you is: PATIENCE. Truly. You’ll hear that over and over again during the application process, and it’s the most important thing to practice. Don’t expect things to happen quickly, as it is a government program.

  1. June 5, 2011: Start Peace Corps Application
  2. August 4, 2011: First interview with Recruiter
  3. August 2011-March 2012: Attempting to meet minimum requirements for Education program.
  4. March 21, 2012: Nominated for North Africa/Middle East Region set to leave in November 2012.
  5. November 1, 2012: Received final medical clearance.
  6. December 6, 2012: Receive Invitation to Serve in Indonesia.
  7. April 6, 2013: Staging in San Francisco, CA.
  8. April 7, 2013: Depart for Indonesia
  9. April 9, 2013: Arrive in Indonesia. Start of PST.

TIME FROM APPLICATION TO STAGING: 671 days or 1 year, 10 months, and 1 day.



Indonesia is an archipelago of over 6,000 inhabited islands located in southeastern Asia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The country borders Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia, and other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia.Indonesia declared its independence on August 17, 1945 following centuries of rule by the Dutch and British and a period of Japanese occupation during World War II. The country has experienced several leadership changes and crises since that time, some of which led to civil unrest. The country has undergone democratization in recent decades and held its first direct presidential election in 2004.

Indonesia has a population of over 240 million people, surpassed only by China, India, and the United States. It is the world’s third most populous democracy, the world’s largest archipelagic state, and home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Its population includes a mix of ethnic groups, with people of Javanese background accounting for more than 40% of the population. Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, although there are more than 700 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago.The country faces numerous natural hazards including occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires. Indonesia contains more volcanoes than any country in the world, and the country has experienced several recent disasters due to seismic activity. Over 130,000 people in Northern Sumatra died in a 2004 earthquake and tsunami. In 2006, a deadly earthquake killed over 5,500 people in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta. Although Indonesia was greatly affected by the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, the country’s economy has been recovering, and Indonesia is considered a major emerging market. Despite this prosperity, the development has not been spread evenly over the country. The island of Java, which has 60 percent of the country’s residents, has reportedly benefited from development resources more than other areas of the country. Indonesia is listed as “medium human development” and ranks 124th out of 187 countries in the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report. 


The Peace Corps first opened its program in Indonesia in 1963 with 46 Volunteers working in physical education. The program was closed in 1965 due to political unrest and safety and security concerns. After a 45 year absence, 18 Volunteers returned to Indonesia in March 2010 as part of an English teaching and teacher training project. In this capacity, Volunteers work at high schools in East Java where they co-teach 10th and/or 11th grade English with Indonesian counterparts. Volunteers also implement extracurricular opportunities for students to practice English and life skills. At the onset of this evaluation 39 Volunteers were serving in Indonesia, including Volunteers from the first group to serve since the post re-opened in 2010 (the ID4 group) and others who swore in one year later in June 2011 (the ID5 group). There were also 46 trainees who arrived in April 2012 (the ID6 group) and were participating in PST.

White Buffer


Visit this website: It was created by an RPCV to provide PC-level language materials to the masses. The Peace Corps is famous for it’s ability to teach people a language in a short amount of time. Take a look at it!


2 Responses to “Etc.”

  1. Mom May 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM #

    Love the unoffical Peace Corps song…LOL

  2. Ray Blakney January 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM #

    Good Day Steven!

    Sorry to bother you. My name is Ray Blakney and I am a RPCV from Mexico. I am working on a 3rd goal project with the PC regional offices and the main office in DC to try to create an online archive to keep the language training material made all over the world from getting lost. I have created a sub-section on the website my wife and I run – – with all the information I have been able to get to date (from over the web and sent to me directly by PC staff and PCV’s). I currently have close to 100 languages with ebooks, audios and even some videos.

    The next step for this project is that I am trying to get the world out about this resource so that it can not only be used by PCV’s or those accepted into the Peace Corps, but also so that when people run across material that is not on the site they can send it to me and I can get it up for everybody to use. I was hoping that you could help getting the word out by putting a link on this on your site at:

    so that people know it is there. There should be something there for almost everybody. It is all 100% free to use and share. Here is the specific page of the Peace Corps Archive:

    Thanks for any help you can provide in making this 3rd goal project a success. And if anybody in your group has some old material they can scan or already have in digital form, and want to add to the archive, please don’t hesitate to pass them my email. Thanks and have a great day.

    Ray Blakney

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