My hope for the project was to allow these rather isolated, low resource communities to use their environment and culture as a tool to promote education, health, and intercultural interaction, while boosting economic prosperity throughout the region.

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Shane Butler loves running, and he’s using his love of running to engage his local community in East Java, Indonesia.

“When I first arrived, people thought I was crazy running around the hills,” said Butler, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara. “Then they got used to it, and then my students joined me. Now I see more and more people practicing on their own. Running is so healthy for your physical health as well as your state of mind and willpower, so it’s been really rewarding to watch this transformation.”

Working with members of his community, Butler planned and hosted the first-ever marathon in the Mount Bromo region to infuse the local economy and bring people from all over the world together to learn about the local culture.

More than 900 people ran in the race, and runners represented more than 30 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Another 5,000 people came to watch the event and join the festivities, which included an arts and culture festival the evening before the marathon. The festival promoted all aspects of the local culture and featured dance and music performances, art displays, and traditional cuisine.

The project generated income for area restaurants and hotels, and donations were collected to support five school libraries in four different villages as well as one community library in the region. The donations will fund more books, tables and chairs at the libraries, and training for staff and students on library maintenance.

Butler teaches regularly at a local high school and runs an English conversation club. He also coaches cross-country running, and all 25 members of his cross-country team participated in the marathon. In addition to regular fitness training, cross-country team members learn about nutrition, fitness, hygiene, and social responsibility.

running fitness Indonesia marathons global health education

“When a student sees a postcard sent from a faraway place and realizes it’s addressed to them, it sparks an enthusiasm for learning English that the textbooks don’t match. Even my least motivated students will call me aside to help them decipher new words and phrases.”

- Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Borden, who is teaching students in his Indonesian community English with the help of postcards through a project he calls Postcards to Java

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

education Indonesia TEFL TESL postcards students school


I had just gotten back home to site from being in the city for two weeks of intensive in-service training. I was nervous about returning to site, returning to my normal routine, the seclusion, the intense cultural differences that make living in a village and city so vastly different. The small children always seem to add color and excitement to life. Upon arriving back home from school, there was a group waiting anxiously for me to come back, it was one of the best feelings. I have never had so much fun playing “Go Fish”, a new game for them. They made the transition much easier.

- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Elle Chang, Indonesia

I had just gotten back home to site from being in the city for two weeks of intensive in-service training. I was nervous about returning to site, returning to my normal routine, the seclusion, the intense cultural differences that make living in a village and city so vastly different. The small children always seem to add color and excitement to life. Upon arriving back home from school, there was a group waiting anxiously for me to come back, it was one of the best feelings. I have never had so much fun playing “Go Fish”, a new game for them. They made the transition much easier.

- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Elle Chang, Indonesia

Peace Corps Peace Corps Digital Library Indonesia go fish youth card games


Two Volunteers take part in a training session at local rice paddies in Tlekung, Indonesia (Java Timur). They beat the rice plants to remove kernels, which are later dried to allow removal of actual rice. 

Volunteer Paige Gable - Peace Corps Indonesia, 2011-2013 First Place - Providing Technical Assistance 50th Anniversary Photo Contest

Two Volunteers take part in a training session at local rice paddies in Tlekung, Indonesia (Java Timur). They beat the rice plants to remove kernels, which are later dried to allow removal of actual rice. 

Volunteer Paige Gable - Peace Corps Indonesia, 2011-2013 
First Place - Providing Technical Assistance
50th Anniversary Photo Contest

(Source: collection.peacecorps.gov)

50th Anniversary Peace Corps Peace Corps Volunteer indonesia photo contest photography rice paddies technical assistance work agriculture training Asia