February 10, 2005

oh my... i've got a blog!

alo alabat!

(Kriol for 'hi everyone')

well, two weeks ago i still thought blogs were silly, but look at me now... blogging away like a trooper.

it's been a few weeks now and i've settled into life at Ngukurr quite nicely. In fact so nicely that the rest of the world seems to have disappeared from immediate memory - that tends to happen here.

well, it's still wet season so i don't have access to katherine. well, it's sposed to be wet season, but we've had hardly any rain... we've had enough to turn everything green and make the rivers go up, but not enough to really fill up all the billabongs or give us a good break from the heat. that cyclone that was hanging round the gulf of carpentaria only brought us wind and cloud... no fun.

i've been hard at it at work. we're trying to organise language classes here at ngukurr school. we're trying to get funding and organise the teachers, lessons, times... all that stuff. it's really tricky because Ngukurr has about seven traditional languages, so it's a logistics nightmare... working out what to teach, who to teach, how to teach, when we'll teach and who's gonna give us some money to do it! for example, we got the whole roll from the school (about 200 kids) and from that we have to put each kids into a language class... but kids might belong to one language group thru their mum, another thru their dad and then a different one thru grandparents... it's pretty tricky.

i've got a couple of local people working with me at the language centre part time now which is good. one of them is godfrey, a qualified teacher who's having a break from teaching. his dad is one of the last speakers of a language called Marra. the other one is an older lady called Norma. she's a remarkable woman. she speaks four languages and is very well educated, both in aboriginal and european (munanga) ways. she was one of the people that helped start up the bilingual schools program in the NT in the 1970s. she's friends with lots of very highly regarded linguists that i'm totally intimidated by! so i'm in good company.

the other big thing that's happened at work was that we had 'bush court' come to town. bush court is just like a regular court but they fly everybody into Ngukurr - the magistrate, police prosecution, lawyers etc. - and set up court here. it ran for two days last week. it blew me away actually. a lot of the ppl that had to appear were young local guys who were in trouble for little things mostly but it totally shocked me how foreign and inaccessible the system is to them. like, they barely know their rights, what charges they're up for, what consequences they might be in for... and their english is generally nowhere near good enough to be able to engage with any of the white people who are involved in court. it made me very sad and angry. my job was to help out by supplying an interpreter. so i felt a little useful, but the interpreter didn't get used much and the whole process just kind of steamrolled along and me and the poor interpreter barely registered a blip. it was just crazy... lawyers running around trying to fit in about 20 clients in a day as well as be in court the whole time... poor young guys not really knowing what the hell is happening and a magistrate who really has no idea about what life is like for people here. well, as you can see, it was a big and eye opening experience for me. it made me quite determined to work hard to get more interpreters involved and more heavily involved.

but apart from work stuff, i've been on a few fishing trips... although we can't drive into katherine, we can still drive to fishing spots. so i'm starting to get to know the country around here a little. i even caught a fish last weekend (a little bream). i'm more comfortable here at ngukurr... getting to know more and more people and using kriol more and more. haha... i even danced at the disco last week (they hold a disco for all the kids every friday nite). it was fun... i created i minor stir because my dancing's not bad for a munanga/whitefella. actually, dancing at discos here is different from what i grew up with. the music is never continuous... there's always a break between songs. so if a song comes on you like, you hafta go straight to the middle of the floor and put on your best moves for everyone to see. there's none of this 'shuffling your feet in a big circle of people'. and then when the song ends (or you decide to stop), you just stop dancing and walk out of the circle and act cool like nothing ever happened. it's great. can't wait for next time.

well it's satuday today and i'm trying to avoid getting dragged into going anywhere cuz i would like a day to chill out. i'm already thinking about holidays... maybe 2-4 weeks off in may? one week with mum and dad when their in this part of the NT and maybe a week somewhere else... either the beach for some total relaxation, or melbourne for a week of splurging. mightn't be back in brisbane for a little while.

oh and my lovelife? ahhahahahahahahahahhahahahaha..... funny joke. i got none.

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