We've had two big weeks and today is the first day I've had to relax (and try and make sure I don't get sick from too much work... and play).
Last week, the Education department held a Language Revitalisation workshop. It was at Numbulwar, a community about three hours away which is actually on the saltwater giving it a stunning location. The workshop was pretty mega. The Ngukurr contingent totalled 13. Go us. Monday was our travel day and we waited and waited for the troopy to arrive from Katherine (carrying another 8 people headed for the workshop). Finally at 4pm they arrived. By then I'd already recorded old F saying a few words in Marra and then adapted our little computer game into Marra. And five of the men were long gone as they were travelling by plane. We set off before 5pm so it turned dark on the way. A few pauses and some water in the fuel line was nothing compared to the troopy getting bogged not far from Numbulwar. Our little Hilux had to act as the anchor for the winch and luckily we dragged them out as opposed to being dragged into the mud too. Ah, the joys of top end travel.
Anyways, the workshop was good. We checked out the deadly Language program at Numbulwar school. They've been teaching daily for 16 years and really have it together and it's a great model for us to follow. Again, I was pretty proud of the Ngukurr mob who participated well in the workshop and are beginning to impress a few ppl in the Education Department. The NT minister for Education, Syd Stirling dropped in and we got to show off and lobby him for some decent funding.
What I loved about the week at Numbulwar was that I got to be 'one of the guys' much more than usual. I was just one of the workshop participants along with the rest of the Ngukurr mob and I was camping on swags with the rest of the guys down at the 'billabong anga' (billabong camp). I just felt that little bit more accepted and apart of these guys life which makes being here that much easier.
The other funny thing that happened that week was seeing the Numbulwar kids react to me speaking Kriol. I was a total freakshow I tell you! It one stage I was surrounded by kids who were really putting me on stage and testing me out... I was no longer a person, but just this weird whitefella who sounds just like everyone else (except for other whitefellas). Too funny.
After Numbulwar I ran off to Darwin for the weekend for some R'n'R which was great but again, not all that restful. I needed to be back here for first thing Monday as we had a lecturer here from Batchelor college who is putting a lot of our language workers through courses. So this week, we had a weeklong workshop (interrupted only by running the school program) and it went well. The guys I work with have already picked up most of the skills needed to get them through the course so it's just a matter of some practise and assessment and we'll have a whole bunch of graduates on our hands.
So it's been a big couple of weeks and things just keep on building here at Ngukurr. I just have to make sure I look after myself. My glands are swollen and I'm on the verge of getting sick.