With our team out in Goroka for team meetings, we’re all settling into different schedules. Our priority as a team is spending some time working through some ongoing friction and I’ll be writing about that next week. Discourse analysis continues since that’s just me spending hours staring at charts; it’s language work that doesn’t need to be done in Kovol. I’ve also got a backlog of interviews on health and sickness to transcribe for our culture file, but I feel like all I ever write about is discourse and culture filing, so I won’t again!
I will just point out though that we temporarily moved our culture file online to https://clahub.reachkovol.com so we can work on it out in Goroka. Feel free to browse and read (and hear) what culture interviewing looks like. Our consultants told us that it should be pretty much all in the Kovol language and they shouldn’t understand it, so if you look at it and feel confused we did a good job!
Usually, when we come out to Goroka it’s break time, and so Oscar has been having a harder time being motivated for school. Gerdine’s been feeling a bit stretched so I’ve stepped in to help out with a day of homeschooling here and there. Friday was our first day and topics of schooling included evergreen and deciduous trees. I’m not very good at identifying familiar English trees, never mind Papua New Guinea trees but we think we identified some evergreen and deciduous trees around Sobega. Although come to think of it what happens to deciduous trees when it’s summer all year round? Are the broad-leaved trees that have waxy leaves evergreen or deciduous? We’ll just move on quickly, I’m not sure! 😀
Gerdine has also had the opportunity to visit the home school office at Lapilo and talk through what she’s struggling with. I’m really glad she can get some support and come home with curriculum books for history and maths which she was finding hard work to prepare for. Oscar even got to sit his first-ever test – a search and teach. He was quizzed and questioned and the report has come back saying that he should have all the fundamentals to learn to read and write and doesn’t need extra help. It’s a big job for Gerdine to school him, so it’s nice to have some guidance and support.
Today for Geography I took Oscar into town. He needed to learn a bit about his local town and so we had a little tour of Goroka. We visited the Fire station, Police station, Market and Post office. Oscar’s local town is dusty, hot and busy, but we got some good pictures of our exploration. We’ll be putting these pictures into a little map 🙂
The fire station was his favourite. He was disappointed to learn that there was no fire pole, but we did learn that there were 18 firefighters at the station.
Something that surprised me was how much attention Oscar was getting. Usually when we go out Alice and Millie are getting all the attention, but this time it was all back on Oscar. People were constantly tousling his hair, grabbing his arms and saying “nana” (grandchild) to him. At one of the stores, a lady actually followed us to the till and almost cornered him stroking his arms and talking to him. Oscar darted around me and I managed to block off the gap so he had some space. I had a little talk with him after that and asked if he wanted me to tell people off for doing it. He really liked the idea of that.
The culturally acceptable thing is to accept it, smile and maybe say a few words. It is a show of affection and appreciation, but after hiking all around town and seeing Oscar dealing with it constantly I completely understand his being fed up with it. A stern “Hey, leave him alone!” “You’re not allowed to touch him” will probably do the job. We’re constantly trying to figure out the line between friendliness, privacy and security.
So that’s our first week out in Goroka. A mixture of school, language work on the computer and team meetings. Each of our families is having individual meetings with our leadership team here to talk through things, and sometime next week we’ll be meeting together as a team, hopefully well-prepared to work through some points of friction we’ve been experiencing. I’ll write about how things are going and give some insights next week, but for now I can say that the process we’re on looks like it should be very helpful for us and lead us towards improved team realtionships.