May 01, 2005

This week at Hodgson Downs

Thursday morning I headed off to Hodgson Downs again. It takes about two hours to get there. We’d planned to go on a bush trip after I got there but I found out that there were nurses visiting and giving all the kids a check-up and blood tests, so no bush trip. So I didn’t end up doing much that afternoon, did a bit of planning, talked to the teachers and visited a few old people.

After school I hung around with some of the kids and we kicked the footy around. Haha, I suck at football. No, I’m not too bad, but compared to these guys I am. They’ve got style and talent and were just shaking their heads at my kicking style. Oh well, I’m still learning.

Friday morning we have language class. I was a bit worried about it because I hadn’t reminded all of the old people about it and I knew some of them were going away anyway. But when I went up the road to see who was about, again there was a group of 5 old people sitting there. Two of them happily came along to teach Alawa. So deadly.

There weren’t many of the secondary kids attending school today so we decided to go on an impromptu bush trip. We all piled in to the school troopie and the language centre truck and went off to a local waterhole called Bella Glen.

The two old men sat all the girls down first and told them the Alawa name for the place, the Dreaming story of the place, spoke some Alawa and told them how important it is to learn their language. Then they did the same with the boys. I thought it was great. One of the old men in particular is a natural teacher and very determined to teach these kids about their language and culture. I just hope the kids think it’s important too and are learning something. It’s hard to tell. I mean, we’re talking about teenagers and language and culture isn’t the coolest thing to them. Actually, if you get them one-on-one they are really interested, but in a big group, well, it’s just doesn’t seem cool to care about that stuff.

On the way back, we stopped at a couple of places to look at some more Dreaming sites, and then returned. I don’t know what the others felt, but I thought it was a great thing to do. I spent the afternoon, writing up notes for the teachers and preparing materials for them.

I really like going to Hodgson Downs. I like the people there, I have friends there, I know the language and country a lot better. I told my banji that I’m going to bring my house with me next week and set up camp at Hodgson Downs instead of Ngukurr. I wish.

And now for some language (hehe). This is one thing the old man said to the girls: “Mayag-genu nda nanggaya nyamba? “Yo”, yil-mimbi!”. Which means ‘Do you understand your language? Say yes!’

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