In certain months of the year, Telunas Beach gets the honour to host college students from overseas to learn and experience the life of the Riau-Melayu people. The passage below recounts the experiences of a recent cultural tourist:
“Being a part of an ICI (Pt. Island Connections Intl./Telunas Beach) ethno-tour has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. It offered me the chance to see a side of Indonesia that most foreigners don’t have the chance to see. Yes, there were the lovely beaches, the warm sun and the great food at Telunas, but I enjoyed the home-stays on the islands most. It was eye-opening to learn a wide range of things about the Riau Malay people. This included talking politics and economics with an island’s RW (community leader) to talking about wedding festivals with the women over lunch. However, a lot of what I learned was nonverbal. I saw first hand the needs of the communities and yet the benefits of their customs. Mandis (showers), which they take twice a day, for example, are key in keeping the children clean.
I would highly recommend ICI to anyone wanting a cross-cultural learning adventure! Not only is it well planned and organized, it also allows you to have direct contact with Indonesians. This includes the fabulous translators who by the end of the trip ended up being some of my closest friends. There is a lot you can learn from another country and culture and only one life in which to do it. I say take a risk and go through ICI. I felt like I left the country not just as another tourist, but as an individual who had experienced and to some degree come to understand Indonesia. Coming back home I realized this experience had changed my life- now I have one more people group and country that I carry in my heart.”
-Michelle (Indiana, USA)