Thursday, August 8, 2013

Officially a Pohnpeian Man

In 6 days, I will have been a Peace Corps Volunteer for a year. Damn. That's a long time. People keep asking me how long I've been here, and I keep astounding myself when I say it's been a year. Part of me can't believe that it's been a year, and the other part can't believe that it's been only a year. This comes back to the concept of island time, no seasons to mentally mark a year, and a long drawn out summer. Without a doubt, it's been the best year of my life.

I also have to brag here for a bit, so pardon the slight ego trip. People keep telling me how good I am at speaking in Pohnpeian to the point where it's slightly getting annoying. I'm tempted to just start speaking in English and manokehla lokian Pohnpei. I do feel like my fluency has increased dramatically over the summer along with my vocabulary even though I'm now in the main town rather than in Salapwuk. It's a little counterintuitive, don't you think? Maybe I'm more confident now I'm here in town than in Salapwuk because I know I can rely on English, and I think that this confidence (or maybe I should say lack of being scared of making mistakes) is allowing the words to flow easier. Along with the increase in language has come a slight enlightening of Pohnpeian culture; people now say that I'm a Pohnpeian man because I act and sound like one. This makes me feel awesome because it's part of what I came here to do: integrate into a community. When people tell you that you are not "American" and that you're "Pohnpeian", you know you've come a long way. Smiles all around. [End ego trip]

After my spectacular Malaysian vacation I arrived back in Pohnpei with the fear of being caught in a web of boredom. Luckily I had some boredom evaders on hand. I got to coach a basketball team for an FSM wide tournament held here in Pohnpei. I got to hold the title of "Coach" for a little while, and it was probably the most enjoyable secondary project I've done with my time here. After coaching ended (some swift kicks in the pants in the form of lost close games), I needed another project. [Cue the National Geographic theme song] That's when some guys from Living Tongues, a linguistic team funded by National Geographic, came to Pohnpei. I got to help them create online talking dictionaries for two outer island languages by verbally recording speakers' speech and inserting the best English letter spellings into an online database. Here's the link to it: Online Talking Dictionary. It was my dream job. The Living Tongues guys are my heroes. I can now die knowing I got to be a linguist for a short period of time. After that another staring contest with boredom occurred until I got the chance to assist the Pohnpeian language training for the new Peace Corps Trainees (soon to become volunteers on August 14th!). My main goal was to take their sometimes confusing language handbook and from the dust create activities to make sure the words don't slip out the trainees' ears. It's been fun, and it's been even more fun to confuse the Madelonihmw trainees with my Kitti accent.

To conclude this brief message I've been winning the fight against boredom. I've had a great summer, I've met some awesome contacts, and I'm excited for the upcoming year. To all my homies back in the States, I miss you like a fat kid misses candy at fat camp. Sorry, let me pc that statement. I miss you like an obese child misses sweets at Wellspring Camps. Look it up.