Saturday, July 24, 2010


We lived for a few months in a little Anglican priest training school on Guadalcanal, called Kohimarama. Kohi for short. This was right after we got back from our US furlough my sixth grade year. I hadn't lived in the bush since village living days in Papua New Guinea, so it was an experience living more than one hundred yards from the beach.

Kohi consisted of a mix of adult students with their families, local teachers, and foreign teachers. My dad was filling in the bible translation teaching position, and I really wasn't thrilled to be there. I had been plucked out of sixth grade right after Christmas, just as I had been feeling like I was starting to fit in and make friends. I had learned important things like: '90210' is not somebody's phone number. It is very important where you sit at the lunch table. There is no such thing as a $2 bill in US currency (after a prolonged discussion with my math teacher).

Instead of going immediately back to Luaniua, where I already had connections and a reasonable expectation to fit in, we went inland to Kohi for a few months. Here, again, I was surrounded by the unknown. There was some crazy jungle bird that lived in the wetness behind our house, and shrieked a deaf child's cry of pain at all hours, day and night. The Melanesian culture was foreign to me, seemingly untrusting and closed off compared to the more open Polynesians I was used to. Instead of being viewed with collective indulgence as 'our adopted white girl', dark eyes followed me everywhere and people gave me the wide berth of an outsider. I spent a lot of time in my room, where I had stapled snapshots of Austin and West Ridge Middle School to my wall.

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