Of all the people in my Peace Corps group, ID6, B. Mintey has surprised me the most. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure we’d hit it off, despite having a Tampa, Florida connection. Brian came off as a serious character. Anytime there was a presentation during our pre-service training, you could bet, as Brian is known to say, “dollars to donkeys,” (or something to that effect) that he’d be throwing in his two scents. This inevitably extended the session longer than it needed to be, which inevitably prompted me to roll my eyes. In his defense though, he always had something insightful to say, and that overzealousness I once mocked turned out to be one of the things I admire most about the man.
Fast forward two years and I am now proud to count Mintey as one of my true allies. He’s a smart, straight shoot’n sunuvagun and, as I once told him, “he has a real passion for life.” I’ve asked Mr. Mintey to answer a few questions, which can found below.
1) What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself since you’ve been in the Corps?
Brian- I’ve come to realize how drastically and quickly one’s self perceptions can change. I have always considered myself and been regarded by others as an exceptionally patient, relaxed, and easygoing person. From the moment I came to this country I have been under stresses that were never problems for me before. I feel intense personal scrutiny from everyone I meet and am forced to interact socially far more often but with far more superficiality than I would ever have tolerated in America. Because of my responses to this, I have had to abandon my old, easygoing self image. I have instead become an extremely impatient, anxious person.
Such a radical change in self perception was, at first, disconcerting. But now I am simply amazed by it. I’m interested to talk to more people who know me here to see how they perceive me and then compare it to how people back home think that i have changed.
2) Who in our group, ID6, has suprised you the most (in a good way)!?
Brian- I was most surprised by my friend Alex. Wen I first arrived I was turned off by his facade. But the intensity of PST quickly broke that down. I have come to know him very well and to find that he is humble, thoughtful, and in my opinion the best ambassador of Indonesian and American culture that the Peace Corps has.
3) You’ve undergone a lot of physical changes since arriving and CLAIM to feel better than ever. What new habit, in your opinion, is most responsible for this?
Brian- I am probably physically healthier here than I have ever been. When I came to Indonesia, two habits got me back into shape: the Madurese fish and rice diet with almost no sweeties and consistent working out. The latter began as a way to manage stress and has been indispensable in that regard. I have rarely been sick and when I have it has never been serious.
4) Speaking of seafood, two years ago you were a fresh fish here. Now, as a seasoned, grizzled vetern, what advice would you impart on the new group arriving in March, ID8?
Brian- Adjusting to life here is difficult. And it should be. It is stressful and will tax your patience and nerves. That has been made clear to you before you signed up. You will have your self perceptions and your assumptions about others challenged in ways you won’t expect. That is a rare and wonderful opportunity. Find someone you can talk to openly and frankly about these challenges, but do not whine and complain…not to your friends, not on Facebook, and not on your blog. It is a privilege to be here – no one is making you stay – you are surrounded by people bending over backwards to try and help you. Open and frank discussion of problems is productive. Whining and complaining insults those around you and flies in the face of why you are here.
5) Finally, what is the one thing do you think will genuinely miss about this experience when we wrap up in June?
Brian- I will miss coming home to my old training village and host family in Batu. After an absence of a few months I can step off that orange angkot and feel completely at home. That feeling is all the more special because I can remember the first time I did it feeling completely alien. It actually became my home in a more intense way than any other place I have ever lived.