Critical Language Scholarship Program | Garik Sadovy
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Garik Sadovy

Garik Sadovy is an alum­nus of both the 2012 and 2015 CLS Indone­sian pro­grams in Malang, Indone­sia. He is cur­rent­ly an incom­ing PhD can­di­date in oceanog­ra­phy and cli­mate sci­ences at Scripps Insti­tute of Oceanog­ra­phy at UC San Diego. When he’s not doing research, he likes to read, sing, dive, and write Indone­sian poet­ry. He’s a Texas native, has spent many years in North Car­oli­na, has lived in Poland, the Philip­pines, and Indone­sia, and has trav­eled many oth­er places – but his most sig­nif­i­cant cul­ture shock was when he moved to the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area.

Why Indone­sian?

When I first went to Indone­sia in 2011, I was inter­est­ed in biopira­cy,” the claim­ing of eco­nom­i­cal­ly valu­able bio­log­i­cal sub­stances with­out any kind of com­pen­sa­tion to the local com­mu­ni­ties that inter­act with these mate­ri­als. Not only is Indone­sia a key place to study biopira­cy, it is also a strong devel­op­ing econ­o­my open to new tech­nol­o­gy and a crit­i­cal place for cli­mate change study. One of my goals is to improve cli­mate change resilien­cy, and Asia and the mar­itime con­ti­nent are going to be cru­cial for under­stand­ing and adapt­ing to the Earth’s future cli­mate sys­tems. I knew that if I want­ed to work deeply and long-term in Indone­sia, I would have to learn the language.

Learn­ing more than language

CLS is one of the most intense expe­ri­ences I’ve ever under­gone and it taught me self-dis­ci­pline in a way I had nev­er before been taught. I came out much more con­fi­dent in my abil­i­ties and in myself. In just two months, my first CLS in Indone­sia took my lan­guage skills from com­pe­tent to a point where I could exper­i­ment with lin­guis­tic sub­tle­ty. This was impor­tant for me pro­fes­sion­al­ly: when I returned to Indone­sia the fol­low­ing year to work for the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Forestry Research, I end­ed up lead­ing a large group in the field, and I could nev­er have man­aged the group with­out that sense of lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al nuance.

An exper­i­ment in inter­per­son­al closeness

This past year, I brought along a self-trans­lat­ed copy of all of the ques­tions from ###i/​i###. The exper­i­ment is meant to accel­er­ate inti­ma­cy between two peo­ple who answer the ques­tions togeth­er. I tried it with my two lan­guage part­ners. Every­one thought it was a bit weird, includ­ing my lan­guage part­ners. But it was crazy how well it worked. I knew more about them, and felt clos­er to them, in two days than after spend­ing two months with my lan­guage part­ners in 2012.

A land of con­stant surprise

I’ve lived in Indone­sia for a while, but it is a land of con­stant sur­prise. This past year at CLS, we vis­it­ed a spir­i­tu­al site in East Java that I had been to before on numer­ous occa­sions. I thought I knew every­thing there was to know: peo­ple come to the site, make offer­ings, wait for leaves to fall off of this spe­cial tree, and obtain good luck. But this year, I learned the his­to­ry of these beliefs, which is tied up in the socioe­co­nom­ic his­to­ry of dif­fer­ent races liv­ing in East Java. It was a won­der­ful sur­prise – one more piece in the eter­nal puz­zle of Indonesia.

A uni­ver­sal language

There was a group of lan­guage part­ners at the CLS Indone­sian insti­tute that loved get­ting togeth­er in the evenings and mak­ing music – with gui­tars, with voic­es, and with what­ev­er could be found around the build­ing. These were times of bond­ing, of relax­ation, and of exhil­a­ra­tion. Indone­sia is such a weird and diverse place, and it all comes out in music. I’ve done my best to repli­cate both the prac­tice of mak­ing music and the feel­ing of it in the USA, but always fall short.

In a word…

My favorite word is medok. It’s an adjec­tive used to describe a local accent, usu­al­ly used to tease some­one if they have a col­lo­qui­al way of pro­nounc­ing some­thing. (When you say the word, you have to say it in the local accent, which makes it very fun to say.) You might assume it’s mean, but the cou­ple of times that I have used it, every­one laughed uproariously!

If you had one day in Indone­sia

There are some hot springs to the north of Malang that I would real­ly rec­om­mend that every­one see and enjoy. They are great in the day, but at night, they’re magical.

Words of wisdom

Indone­sia is a place very con­cerned with the present. I was frus­trat­ed for a long time dur­ing my first year in Indone­sia because I kept com­par­ing things to what I had known from my past. Even­tu­al­ly I learned to sur­ren­der my expec­ta­tions and embrace curios­i­ty in what was around me. This was crit­i­cal for my suc­cess as a part of the CLS pro­gram, and one of the most impor­tant lessons I’ve ever learned.


Alumni Profiles

Garik Sadovy
Garik Sadovy
Indonesian 2012
Malang, Indonesia

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Posted Date

May 03, 2016