Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Saturday 20th August: Leaving at last!

It's been a frustrating, annoying, and seemingly endless process! But at last the visa has been approved, and I understand that VSO has sent it by Special Delivery today. blessings to Dr. John Balavu of the PNG High Commission in London - I wrote asking for his help, and within a day the missing letter had been found, and the visa approved. I've now received my e-ticket, and expect to fly on Saturday, 20th August. I'll arrive in Madang (feeling like a Zombie, I'm sure) on Monday. I'll spend a couple of days there, Tok Pisin lessons from Willie, and meeting VSO staff and volunteers. Then I travel up to the Highlands, probably by PMV (public motor vehicle, a Toyota minibus usually) and hope we don't get held up on the road.

Yesterday my briefing notes arrived from VSO PNG. It will be a challenging placement. The initial success of getting the Grade 9 textbook published has created problems for which I doubt anyone has answers - the focus has come to be on money and greed, not on education, and while this is understandable, somehow I have to help the teachers I work with refocus, and look to a longer term, sustainable business which will serve the country. The irony - that I'm leaving a Britain run by greed, torn by riots, and governed by hypocrites who have shown themselves to be as corrupt as they are sanctimonious,  to go to a third world nation rich in resources and unskilled in managing them - is something I feel I must keep in mind constantly. To try to teach PNG Nationals the ways of our supposed civilisation would be to destroy them - indeed, that is already happening. I keep coming back to the skills I have that I can take to my work in PNG. Frankly, most of the teaching skills I have are irrelevant. A few little hints about lesson planning and being aware of what the 'outcome' of a lesson is. A few personal skills like cooperating with another teacher in team teaching. But really, the basic skills I take are those that I was taught at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation 25 years ago - how to listen, how to respect another's being, how to help people seek and find their own best way. In short, the skills I need for International Development work are those of the Counsellor or Psychotherapist.

In fact, if I can listen to my dreams, and help my PNG colleagues listen to theirs, perhaps answers to the problems we face will emerge. And if so, I am sure that those answers will be as relevant to the problems facing Britain and America as to those of a developing country.

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