Reflections and Connections

  • Date: April 17, 2024
    Country: Indonesia

    I had been aware of Javanese since before departing for Indonesia, but I couldn’t have anticipated its prevalence. In our home neighborhood, Kotagede, most of the inhabitants are Jogja locals, meaning they speak Indonesian but their primary language is Javanese. The language dynamics immediately interested me, and I wanted to learn more about how locals view their two languages; which one is more comfortable, and how it feels to switch between languages, or even mix them. I was told by many that regardless of their clear fluency in both languages, it would feel awkward to speak Indonesian to other Jogja locals.

  • Date: March 28, 2024
    Country: Indonesia

    “Bapak Ino is an insurance salesman. Ibu Sri is working at the nearby kindergarten in an admin role.* Diva is a university student and Ahnaf is a student in high school. The family likes to do activities together.”

    These few sentences, alongside a family photo, were all I was given before entering my homestay in September. One thing left unmentioned was their house. 

    I remember sitting in the living room of our final group homestay. After hearing these short descriptions of the families, everyone’s excited thoughts quickly turned towards the houses we would be staying in. Several failed attempts to find photos of our new homes on Google Maps only made us more restless and left us to wonder.

    Looking back,…

  • Date: March 20, 2024
    Country: Cambodia

    It is currently the wedding season in Cambodia! Weddings are held in months that have 30 days. Recently I went to a wedding in Doun Kaev in Takéo Province with my homestay family. My mom’s nephew was getting married. Here are some pictures to take you along for the wedding journey while sharing a bit more information about Cambodian wedding traditions.

  • Date: February 27, 2024
    Country: Cambodia

    It's exciting to think about where a bridge might take you, but an equally important part is where you started. I often find myself looking back to be eluded by mist. Growing up outside any culture and being mixed, it’s difficult to explain where I come from. I know there are the pine-covered mountains of Colorado, but behind that?

  • Date: February 16, 2024
    Country: Indonesia

    I work at an NGO called RISE Foundation (Yayasan Remaja Indonesia), whose core mission is to promote and develop the health, wellness, and advocacy of Indonesian youth. Since beginning my internship at the end of September, I’ve learned so much from my mentors and fellow interns. Everyone at RISE is passionate about their work, and the office has a friendly air of camaraderie that many American work spaces that I’ve experienced lack. One of my favorite traditions is the lunches when someone surprises the rest of the office with food to share. While talking and laughing with my co-workers and friends, I’ve tried delicious noodles, chicken sate (grilled chicken skewers with a flavorful sauce), and pai susu (pie made out of custard and condensed milk that is popular all around Indonesia…

  • Date: February 9, 2024
    Country: Bolivia

    It becomes hard to look up when all that is around you is a sea of anti-Blackness.  Racist incidents just become a part of your daily life, something that you expect to happen and are more surprised when it doesn’t.  Whether it’s malicious, disgusted stares, your coworkers grabbing your hair and telling you how interesting it is, your host cousin telling you that Black people deserve to get paid less, or a plethora of other examples, the sting of racism becomes something that you have to endure every day.  Sure-you might learn the context, the history, why things are the way that they are yet none of that helps to change how you feel. The racism makes you crazy. It starts to make you question whether they are right, whether you really are less than, because it is all…

  • Date: December 14, 2023
    Country: Costa Rica

    Narges Anzali highlights words and phrases she frequently hears exchanged by her homestay family in Costa Rica to illustrate the everyday relationships, rhythms, emotions, and dynamics she has experienced with them so far.

    Sipi: A way of saying ‘si.’ Your older host sister frequently uses it, and when asked, she explains that it sounds more friendly, less severe, than the common ‘si.’

  • Date: December 12, 2023
    Country: Cambodia

    To listen and to understand — are they distinct? Or are they intrinsically linked, two sides of the same coin? In English, they’re unmistakably separate; listening happens at the ears, understanding in the mind. But in Khmer, oftentimes, ស្តាប់ [sdap] (to listen) and យល់ [yol] (to understand) are used interchangeably; saying, for example, “I listen to Khmer” means “I understand Khmer.” Bridge Year Cambodia student Rishi Subramanian shares some of his poetic and reflective pieces of writing centered on the themes of listening and understanding.

  • Date: December 6, 2023
    Country: Bolivia

    In October, after the initial three weeks living with homestays in Tiquipaya, the Bolivia group had just begun to adapt to living with new families and spending time away from the group. In that time, they have created strong relationships with their host-families, but they have each had vastly different experiences. Follow along for a day in the life of a Bridge Year Bolivia student through brief vignettes from each student's experience with their homestay, highlighting moments and interactions that have felt very important to them.

  • Date: October 19, 2023
    Country: Costa Rica

    Pura vida. It's a phrase you hear everywhere in Costa Rica. It's a greeting between friends. It's a response to "How are you?" It's an expression of gratitude. It's a way of life. It's only two words, yet it means so much. This is a reflection on how pura vida as a concept has been central to Yao's experience at his community placement, Centro Morpho.

  • Date: April 21, 2023
    Country: Senegal

    Alessandra Faccone of Bridge Year Senegal highlights the Senegalese ataya tea ritual through a poem as well as instructions for making this tea.

  • Date: April 20, 2023
    Country: India

    As the reality that I will eventually leave Udaipur is becoming more and more real with each passing day, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships I’ve formed with various people throughout my time here--particularly, the relationship with my homestay mother, Chanda Ji. Obviously, Chanda Ji will not follow me to the US, and our conversations will probably become less frequent, but I can carry the spirit of our talks and the qualities of Chanda Ji that I admire and hope to embody in my life. So, I decided to ask Chanda Ji a series of somewhat random and unrelated questions in an attempt to capture a bit of her essence.

  • Date: March 16, 2023
    Country: Indonesia

    Each group member has written about personal experiences they’ve had with food and how it has assisted them in reflecting on their time in Jogja, and in Indonesia at large. Nivan writes about his appreciation for his homestay family’s restaurant. Izi writes about her memorable interactions with community members fostered by her love of jahe (a hot ginger drink). Katriona focuses on how the pasar (traditional food market) teaches her about community and bonding with her homestay family. Lilia reflects on how learning to like spicy Indonesian meals pushes her to challenge herself more. Calvin talks about using food as an avenue to deliberately seek out a legitimate Indonesian experience. Clara explains how food brings her closer to her homestay family. Finally, Mell talks about finding…

  • Date: March 8, 2023
    Country: India

    On January 3rd, we passed our halfway point through Bridge Year, and we have been doing lots of reflecting on all the progress we have made and all the lessons we have learned thus far. To celebrate our halfway point, each group member has chosen a specific lesson they have learned, question they have been thinking about, or observation they have made to elaborate on below.

  • Date: December 15, 2022
    Country: Senegal

    In their first group update, the students in Senegal talk about "Senegal time." Each student reflects on their established and learned conceptions of productivity, quality time, and ways of moving throughout their days which have been challenged during their time so far in Senegal.

  • Date: November 3, 2022
    Country: Indonesia

    Winding through the narrow alleys and twisting streets of my neighborhood in Indonesia, it’s strange and beautiful to feel a sense of belonging. For if I come from a far-away land, missing understanding of the complexities that make up this place where I now live, how can these winding streets be my own?

  • Date: September 8, 2022
    Country:

    Novogratz Bridge Year Program alumna Yun-Yun Li '17 shared insights with the 2022-23 Bridge Year students at the August 22 send-off reception in the Chancellor Green Rotunda. Her full remarks are featured below.

    It’s a pleasure to meet you all at this very particular time in your lives. For the next few days you will be moving through a threshold to a fresh chapter in your life, from the known and familiar to the unknown. For that deep transition, I’d like to offer a story that a dear friend shared with me last year during a threshold moment in my life.

  • Date: July 28, 2022
    Country: India

    In this series, the Novogratz Bridge Year Program reconnects with past participants to see where life has taken them after Princeton.  In this installment, we check-in with Chhaya Werner ‘14.  In 2009-2010, Chhaya traveled with Bridge Year to Varanasi, India, where she collaborated with NIRMAN, an organization that aims to provide inclusive and innovative learning experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds.

  • Date: July 1, 2022
    Country:

    In this series, we're reconnecting with Novogratz Bridge Year alums to see where life has taken them after Princeton.  For this installment, we reached out to Kenny Hubbell ‘16.  In 2011-12, Kenny traveled with his Bridge Year group to Urubamba, Peru, where he primarily collaborated on a ceramic water filter project with ProPeru, an organization that focuses on community development concerns in the Sacred Valley region.

  • Date: April 18, 2022
    Country:

    Throughout the spring, our Novogratz Bridge Year Admission Ambassadors have been sharing their thoughts and insights on the Bridge Year student experience. In this installment, Kate Macakanja '23, Aneekah Uddin ’24, Svetlana Johnson ’24, Sydney Eck ’24, Isaac Wills ’23, and  Nicole Williams ’23, reflect on a range of issues including cross-cultural challenges, language learning, relationship building, and identity during their time abroad.