Friday, October 28, 2011

Teaching Go Fish In Vanuatu

I have arrived in Tanoliu, my training village on the island of Efate, and have begun training in education, Ni-Vanuatu culture, the Bislama language, health, nutrition, and other relevant topics to my stay in Vanuatu. My host family are a father and mother with four children.  I have been given a new name (a kastom name): Kalfao, which means "new man." I have found the people here to be quite hospitable and convivial, but also somewhat gossipy. I recall coming to class one day and a friend from the Peace Corps asking me, "Paz, when did you wake up?"
"I don't know, 6:30," I responded. "Why?"
"Because my host parents told me you slept in today," she said.
Coming from New York City, where nobody knows or cares what your business is, this comes as a bit of culture shock. Wherever I walk, people shout out "Kalfao! Yu go wea?" (Kalfao! Where are you going?). Half the time, I won't even know the other person's name! This has required adjustment.
However, I have been able to have an impact on others. Last week, I taught my host sisters and brothers, as well as other children in the community, how to play go fish. I did not speak Bislama nearly as well as I do now, and the fact that I was able to teach them is proof of how much communication is nonverbal. I simply dealt the cards and showed them what to do. The children loved the game and must have played it five or six times that day. This gives me immense hope that, as I assimilate more and more into Ni-Vanuatu society, I will be able to truly have an impact on my community.

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