I’ll open the discussion with a photograph from the slopes of Mount Merapi, an extremely active volcano on Central Java, Indonesia that erupted late last year. The tile floor displayed was previously at the bottom of a house; most of the village and surrounding foliage was incinerated by the explosion. Fortunately, most residents evacuated in plenty of time. Now they are back and rebuilding; attachment to home for many outweighs the dangerous and costly potential of another eruption.

This past semester I worked with a group of students and DGS Elizabeth Frankenberg to design a mental health intervention for those affected by the Merapi disaster (fun fact – Indonesia has experienced over 4,000 natural disasters since 2004!) Now, I’m working with a research non-profit that manages surveys and impact evaluations across Indonesia, including the much-adored Indonesian Family Life Survey and the unique Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery, a classic nerd response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that had catastrophic consequences for Indonesia.

Coming up next week: can a young grad student without formal training learn how to ride a motorcycle on the mean streets of Yogyakarta?

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