My stacks of teaching materials and papers are currently expanding. In an effort to allow Ryan to work less while we’re in transition to Australia, I’ve taken on more hours at work. I now have three classes that I regularly teach at the local adult school. These classes include the multi-level ESL class that I’ve been regularly teaching since the end of April at a local plumbing company, Mr. Rooter. This course will hopefully continue to grow and expand despite some of the recent challenges.
I’m also teaching a level 3/4 ESL combination class two mornings a week. I subbed for this class regularly last year and I am excited about working with my co-teacher who will be in the class the other 3 mornings a week. Level 3 and 4 is great because, as another teacher put it, the students already know a lot but they still have a lot to learn. It’s exciting to continue to work with adults who come to class because they are motivated and excited to learn.
And if you look closely at the picture of materials, you might also catch a glimpse of a biology book. No, I haven’t magically become a science teacher but my third class is an ABE class. ABE stands for Adult Basic Education. I will be co-teaching with two others teachers in a class of about 50 adult students with varying degrees of disabilities. These men and women are also very excited about learning and this year many of our lessons will be centered around plants and planting. We have a grant that will allow us to buy and plant succulents which is a great hands on activity. So I’ll be working on some simple lessons that teach about plants, growth and basic biology.
These classes are great opportunities for me to keep learning and growing in my teaching and educating abilities. It especially fun to be able to work cooperatively with other teachers who bring in their own unique ideas and abilities. Although Ryan and my ultimate goal is still Australia, I know this time will not be wasted and I’m excited to see what this semester has in store.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about the similarities and differences between Australia and Papua New Guinea. These countries are close together and both have a special place in my heart. Australia and PNG are, of course, very different countries but they have many similarities. They share some of the same unique animals; cassowaries, tree kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials. They are also both common wealth countries. Papua New Guinea was under Australian control until 1975 when Australia freely gave PNG it’s independence. This is another reason for some similarities in certain laws and governmental practices. But there are also many differences, starting with size.
Papua New Guinea may be much smaller but it has significantly more languages being spoken. Australia has some aboriginal and immigrant languages spoken in addition to English but Papua New Guinea is the country with the most languages spoken in the world. There are over 800 languages spoken in PNG in addition to English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu which are the three official languages.
I did a quick search for other similarities and differences and found some really interesting information. Papua New Guineans make 93% less money and they are also not high energy consumers using almost 88% less oil and almost 95% less electricity than Australians. In our world of very high consumerism, Papua New Guinea is doing pretty well for our planet. This is consistent with my experience while living there. I was less of a consumer, bought most of my clothing second hand, relied more often on my own feet for transportation, ate more locally and organically and much more.
Each country I have lived in is very different. I look forward to discovering more about Australia once we are living there:-)
Even though Ryan and I are on this side of the pond, we still have a connection to the people and places in Australia, specifically in and around Perth. We are intending to work with a team that is already there on the ground. Berenice is a wonderful artist who uses a wide variety materials as her canvas. Everything from egg shells to doll heads. Her work isn’t just interesting to look at, it has a story behind it. She also uses bones. Yes, bones! You can see one of her works HERE and although I did not contribute to this work, I did collect bones for her while I was living in PNG. I also love that she uses and plays with language. Check out more of her art on her website: berenice rarig- artist.
Art can be ministry and this is very evident in Berenice’s latest work. She is praying through the Perth phone book. Each name gets prayed over, written out in beautiful script and collected together in little books. Since artwork is a process for Berenice, I’m sure this work will evolve as she works her way through the alphabet. She has reached the Ds and although it is a long and hand-inking process, the power of prayer is at work here. Once completed Berenice can say that she has prayed for everyone in the city by name. How awesome is that!?
While Ryan and I were in Perth, we stopped by the Aboriginal Cultural Center in Fremantle. While there we got to look at original Aboriginal art, talk to the center volunteers and I signed up to receive their cultural program schedules. The program schedules are based on Noongar Seasons and it is currently Djeran. Each email I get is a reminder to pray for the healing and learning that is still taking place in Australia between the Aboriginal and the white community.
This season there are art and language classes as well as events geared towards reconciliation. May 26th is National Sorry Day, a nationally recognized day in Australia, which gives people the chance to come together and dialog about steps that can be taken towards healing from the Stolen Generations (Aboriginals forcefully removed from their families and communities). For this day the center will be having a workshop and exhibition.
Just reading about these events gives me something to look forward to, as well as reminds me of some of the challenges we will face, once we are in Australia. I also follow Fremantle Aboriginal Events on Facebook. I know we won’t be living directly in Fremantle but we will be close enough to participate in some events and use this center to continue learning about the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal culture past, present and future.
So yesterday I was running an errand and stopped at a railroad crossing. To keep myself amused I was checking out a couple vanity plates on the cars in front of me. I saw one and thought “Awww, they love their mom.” and then after a few seconds I realized that either that person speaks some Onobasulu or their license plate means something different. I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick picture before the light turned green.
Let me explain my confusion. Even after 3+ years away from Papua New Guinea, away from Onobasulu speakers, away from Tok Pisin and all the cultural differences, some things are still stuck in my mind. Nae is the Onobasulu word for mother and it is also used in referring and speaking to people. Women are called by their firstborn child’s name plus mother. For example, my mother would be Benjaminnae. I spent time with, talked to and referred to women this way. Sarahnae, Elinae, Waganae, Famelanae, Ludinae and the list goes on. I heard kids call their mothers often, echoing across the house or the village depending on how loud they were calling. The cry of “nae-oooo” is still seared in my mind from the time we helped set a boys broken arm. Yes, the teenager was in so much pain that he was crying for his mother. Nae is just one of those unforgettable words.
I’m pretty certain that I don’t know the people in that car. The Onobasulu community is small enough that I would know personally or know of any Western people connected to the Onobasulu people community in some way. And by that same logic, i’m pretty certain that nae is being used here as a term of endearment for a grandma or someone else. But I’m glad that we had to stop at the railroad crossing yesterday. I look forward to the time when I get to head back out to Walagu and see the Onobasulu people again but for now I will cherish all the sweet memories and hold on to every reminder that comes my way, even from a random license plate.
30 Untranslatable Words From Other Languages Illustrated By Anjana Iyer is a very interesting project. You can find all 30 pictures on the website HERE. No doubt that sometimes even the most gifted English speaker is at a loss for words. And we all know that every once in awhile we have to describe something instead of just having a specific word. Sometimes there just isn’t the right word. But I have learned that other languages often have words that can fill in the gaps. I knew German had a few of these words and so I wasn’t surprised with pictures like this one for Fernweh: feeling homesick for a place you have never been to.
I also thought some of the other entries were quite intriguing and could certainly be useful if we did have English equivalents. Like this word from Rukwangali (a Bantu language in Namibia). Hanyauku: the act of walking on tiptoes across warm sand. This is a rather specific but fun word.
Although I am sure some of these might have equivalents in some other languages. It seems to me that for English there is in usually no one word match. Like this one in Italian we might describe it or call it water rings or coffee rings but in Italian it is just one word. Culaccino: the mark left on a table by a moist glass.
This next one I thought was interesting because I learned an equivalent word while living in Ghana. I would say that it is an English word but not standard American English but instead Ghanaian English. We did this all the time and it was called ‘flashing’. The first time someone told me that they would ‘flash me later’ I was a little worried but then I learned that it meant something different than the flashing I was use to in standard American English. The word would be unnecessary in the US because we pay for minutes whether we are receiving or making a call. From Czech, Prozvonit: to call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back allowing the caller not to spend any money on minutes.
The words are very interesting and I certainly wish we had some of these in English. I love that this project from Anjana Iyer is a mix between language and art. Take a look at the list HERE and let me know what word you wish had an English equivalent.
For the last two years I have been moving and moving and moving some more. Each month, every couple weeks, every other weekend. Yup. A lot of moving. There are benefits to moving around and for what I was doing, it was the right move (pun intended). But my situation is different now so I am trying to make the most of my more stationary life.
One of the biggest benefits to living in Camarillo is the amazing library. I haven’t even explored all the corners but this place is full of amazing resources and it such an asset to the community. The library offers both literacy and ESL classes as well as tutoring. This is just one of the ways that it supports the diverse population. I’ve loved getting to know Camarillo from this perspective.
Once a week I visit the learning center and work with a couple from Egypt. Although they speak English very well, they are trying to improve their English skills so that they can start working in their professions again. We practice conversation, we practice specific vocabulary, we practice navigating English websites and online applications. For a couple hours a week I answer questions and give them undivided attention. I enjoy getting to hear their stories and now being a part of their transition to the US.
The Camarillo library is a great place. It supports community. It supports language. I’m thrilled to take advantage of my more stationary moment to be a part of my new community in this way.