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Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate?  Do I need to be a university student?

We value the learning environment created by a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, and life experiences.  Therefore, this course is not restricted to university students, but is open to open to any interested adults (must be over the age of 18).   We especially encourage the participation of anyone with a passion for inspiring positive action in their community, interest in cross-cultural understanding, conservation, sustain able agriculture,  fair trade, or the story behind their food and products.    


If I am a registered student, can I get academic credit?

Yes. Students can earn 3 academic (semester) credits for this experience through the University of Montana as Environmental Studies 391. This requires a simple credit-reporting form and $135 fee paid directly to the University of Montana's School for Extended and Lifelong Learning. For UM students, the course will automatically be added to your academic records. Students registering from other universities will receive a UM transcript for this course, to apply for transfer credits to their home institution. Students taking the course for credit will be assigned a letter grade (see syllabus for details). Participants are welcome to take the course for personal experience or professional development, without an assigned grade or credit reporting fee.   We are also happy to provide a syllabus and curriculum details to your college or university if you would like to apply for an internship or independent study through your own school, rather than UM credits. 


What is covered in the trip fee?

The trip fee includes all food and lodging during the course, all travel within Indonesia, and visitor visas. If you take the course for credit, the $2455 course fee and $135 credit reporting fee include the tuition costs for the three cretis.    The trip fee does not include airfare; each participant will be responsible for purchasing their own ticket from the US to Indonesia.  We will work with a travel agent to block out tickets, and provide you with the information on how to contact them and purchase your ticket.


What if I don’t live in Montana, can I still participate in the storytelling retreat without returning to Missoula?

We strongly encourage all participants to return to Missoula with the group to participate in- person in the storytelling retreat.  The dedicated time for working with the stories and images will help focus and synthesize your experience, and allow you to exchange critical feedback and advice with fellow students, instructors, and local storytelling experts. We have lined up some wonderful storytelling mentors with expertise an a variety of media and methods, and think they will add a lot to your experience.  That being said, we do not want airfare or travel time to Missoula to prevent anyone from taking part in this trip.  We are happy to consider students who would need to complete their final storytelling project in another location via online or remote collaboration tools (email, phone, skype, etc.).  We will include storytelling projects from remote students in the Missoula community event at the end of the storytelling workshop, and help facilitate sharing events in students' home communities as well.   


How strenuous should I expect the farm work to be? 
We will work alongside host farmers for part of most days in Indonesia, but harvest and farm work will be broken up by classes, lectures, and interviews (i.e., you will not spend a solid 12-hour day picking coffee!).  We will travel mostly by foot within the village, sometimes walking and hiking through steep forested areas to reach coffee groves and to study surrounding forests.  You should be comfortable walking several miles of uneven terrain before coming on the trip. 


We request a $500 deposit with your application in order to ensure your place on the trip. We will accept applications without the $500 deposit, but if the course approaches capacity during the application period, preference will be given to applicants who have made the financial commitment of including an application fee.  This fee will be refunded if you are not selected to join us on the course or if there is not sufficient enrollment for the course to run.  The rest of the trip fee ($2,455 total) must be paid by April 23rd.   Checks can be made payable to Forest Voices.


Can I apply my financial aid, if I am a college student?
Yes. If you take this course for credit, you will be eligible to apply your financial aid or Americorps education awards. University of Montana students can work with the UM financial aid office to apply their awards. Students from other colleges should contact the financial aid office at their univesrity as soon as possible to begin making the necessary consortium agreements between the schools. The applicabality of your financial aid package may depend on your college or university policies.  We are happy to provide information to your financial aid office and help you find and file the necessary paperwork to apply your outside financial aid awards.


Health and safety
International travel, by its very nature, brings certain risks you would not encounter when staying at home. Some areas of the world are more dangerous than others; we recommend that you read up on the current environment in Indonesia (links available below).  We comply with all US Department of State recommendations for United States Citizens travelling to the area.  


We require that all participants purchase travel insurance, and be covered by current medical insurance.  You will be asked to fill out a detailed confidential health information form as part of your application.  Any pre-existing or ongoing health issues should be discussed with instructors well before departure in order to ensure the safety of the group.


Communication and connectedness
The instructors travel with a satellite phone for communicating in any emergency, and the Indonesian collaborators helping with coordination have local cell phones for arranging in-country logistics.  We will post periodically to a course blog which will enable your friends and family at home to glimpse some of your experience.  However, you should anticipate having limited access to regular internet and phone; you’ll concentrate your communication and attention on your exciting immediate surroundings in Indonesia.


On our way into and out of Indonesia, we will spend a night in a  guesthouse in the city of Jakarta.  Expect to share a room with other students.  Most of the time in Panuwan village we will be hosted by rural families in their homes; each family will take on one or two students.  You will find the host families warm and welcoming, but be aware that these are modest village homes that will likely be more rustic than housing in the US. For example, hot showers are uncommon, and electrical power may be intermittent. 

During the storytelling retreat in Montana, we will arrange accommodations for students who do not have a residence in Missoula.  This may be in University housing, a hostel, or with local host families.


Indonesian Tourist Visas
Each of us will obtain a 30-day visitor visa for Indonesia upon arrival to the airport in Jakarta.  Note that you will need to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your arrival to Indonesia, and one full blank page in the passport, in order to secure the visa.  If your passport will expire before November 23rd, 2013, you must renew it before departure.