It’s the end of May, and despite assurances on grant money being approved for the dictionary and the historical monuments, I’ve spent the last two weeks waiting for it to show up.
Not just waiting though – I’ve also started teaching again, poetry and computer, and really quite enjoying it. With poetry I can teach anything I want, brainwash them with silly notions like descriptive writing and women’s liberation. Which makes me a little more interested in potentially teaching English next year in Latin America.
Don and I have also started the editing phase of the dictionary (weeee!), and have been distributing four or five pages of the dictionary to each elder so as not to overload them. Today was the first day I went around to collect them (Don was busy, he’s always in demand), which was quite satisfying, for a couple of reasons.
- Most everyone had done it, though one or two elders were elsewhere and another had been sick. Participation is nice.
- There was a lot less Bauan (national dialect) mixed in than I thought there would be. Perhaps I should fearmonger less about the loss of language.
- Generally, there were not an overwhelming number of mistakes.
- I conducted 90% of the conversations with elders, going over the pages I’d given them each, in TatavaSabeto itself, which is always deeply satisfying.
Nonetheless, a few things have been pretty delayed. One is that the village of Korobebe, the farthest interior village of Sabeto and one whose language differs more significantly because of intermarriages with the neighboring district of Yakete, has yet to be visited by us. At first, there were cyclones and floods, but over the past few weeks we’ve simply been unable to get in contact with the TK (village headman). He wasn’t picking up his phone for weeks, so I sent a letter home with his son last week with my number and a request to call, but he still hasn’t. So, come Wednesday, I’ll probably just bike up there so we can talk. That way we can sit down with their elders and collect their unique words.
The reason that Naboutini, Natalau, Narokorokoyawa and Koroiaca all have nearly identical language is mostly geography (they are a bit closer) and also that Naboutini is essentially an extension of Koroiaca, founded around WWII.
I had a good day, however, with a nice afternoon ride and the installation of an old file cabinet in my room – I’ve not had drawers or anything of the like and have been sorely in need.
Recently I’ve found a good method (so far) of taking care of my emotional health. I found it on The Atlantic in an article on Self-Compassion vs. Self-Esteem, and it helps me stop myself from beating myself up over small things, keep my ego in check and extend compassion and gratefulness to others. I spent far too much emotional energy feeling bad about myself my first year of service, feeling like I was underperforming as a volunteer or making insufficient efforts at integration. And also sometimes letting my ego go a bit.
My yaca (namesake) who lives in Moala summed it up very well for me late last year, when I told him I felt like I was making a lot of mistakes and not learning from them. He replied “oh like, being human?”
This isn’t, of course, to excuse or minimize the mistakes that I have made, but to put them in perspective and continue to work towards bettering myself.
Plus, I’ve got some great things coming up. A week from now I’ll be flying stateside for my cousin Maryn’s wedding (she served 3 years as a PCV in Kyrgyzstan and is now marrying a fellow PCV from there), rushing through Chicago and friends on the way. Friends and family, very nice. Then when I get back, we should finally have the embassy money, and we’ll erect the historical monuments and have some opening ceremony. Then we finish editing the dictionary, print it and distribute it, hopefully before COS conference, the last week of July. The weekend after COS conference I’ll be leading a group of fellow PCVs up Koroyanitu, the upper Sleeping Giant and second highest peak in Fiji.
After that, I’m basically in the free and clear to do whatever the f*** I want – within limitations, of course. What I currently plan on doing between early August and December, when I COS, is helping the 8th grade students get into the schools they want and doing all the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the time to yet, including visiting Moala for a week, maybe going back out to the islands, going back to the interior etc. And there’s a pretty decent chance I’ll have David and/or Levi, from Knox College days, visiting in October, which is one of the best possible ways I can think of leaving here.