Tuesday, July 12, 2016

saying farewells

As I have been gone from Papua New Guinea for over a week now, I want to reflect on the process of saying farewell.  It has been both difficult and heart warming.  I have been thinking of some of the reasons that farewells are done so elaborately in Papua New 'Guinea.

1.  Travel is difficult and expensive.  It is true that we will likely not see each other again.  Here in the US it is usually easy to go back and visit, not so in PNG.  I see this every year with the tears shed by the senior class at graduation time, they have been in classes together for 5 years and may never see each other again. 

2.  Mail is irregular, phones are expensive and internet may not be available.  It will be hard for us to keep in touch.  As smart phones are becoming more common and mobile phone coverage  I have started seeing some students and faculty on Facebook.

3.  People are used to living in villages where there is slow turnover of people.  They are used to the idea that they will be in relationship their whole life.

I had three farewells, one a dinner with my waspapa or advisory group, a potluck with speeches with the Year Two Class, and a campus-wide farewell.  This included a meal, entertainment and gifts by each class and the dedication of the new campus kitchen.

These farewells were wonderful and made me realize how deeply involved I had become with the community.


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