You are looking at posts that were written in the month of April in the year 2010.
Posted on April 26th, 2010 by Miranda.
I told my friends at Educate the Children that I would ask all my friends for money! They’re a great organization, and they’ve helped me out a lot, so I’ll be posting a couple of things about their work. This one’s a couple vignettes of their involvement with the Thangmi language, which is what got me introduced to the organization in the first place. To learn more, and give them money that they need desperately to keep doing the work they’re doing, check out their website: http://etc-nepal.org/
We’re sitting on the porch at the NGO office, recovering from a bumpy and dusty bus ride – though the dust isn’t helped much by sitting on the porch, right next to the road that’s covered in a couple inches of dust. It wasn’t so bad when I was last in Dolakha, but this was the next stage in the road widening plan. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether there’s actually enough money to finish the widening project that’s in progress, so it looks like the road will remain dusty for the foreseeable future.
Two of the teachers from the nearby elementary school stop by to greet L, education director at ETC. When he mentions that he has the draft of the new Class 2 Thangmi language textbook, the younger of the two teachers asks to see it. She reads Gaiko Thangmi Kham (Our Thangmi Language), but after that she says that she doesn’t understand any of the text – ‘aaphno bhaaashaa jaandaina‘ (I can’t speak my own language). Nevertheless, she flips through the book with interest.
Two of the local boys stop by to ask if they can have copies of the Class 1 Thangmi book. When I ask C, the scholarships and educational program field coordinator if the boys can read the book, she says ali ali padhna aauchha (they know how to read a little), since they just finished Class 1 at one of the seven schools that now have a Thangmi class. When one of them stops by later, he’s holding his already beat-up copy of the book.
L brings me along to see BB, one of the main language activists in the community, and chair of the local Thangmi social service organization. BB hadn’t been able to attend the book writing workshop, but L asks him to look over the book. BB asks for a couple days to read it; it’s a busy time, since the community forest is open right now for getting fire wood, and he’s also working on some translations for the Thangmi language section of Gorkhapatra, the government newspaper. L suggests that if BB is too busy, the district Thangmi organization chair; according to L, the district organization chair knows lots of words that other people couldn’t remember – for example, does BB know the word for 1000? He doesn’t, and most other people and the workshop didn’t, but the district level guy does. BB laughs really hard, but then says seriously that their district level guy knows a lot but he speaks guru-style language, priest language, not everyday language. It looks like potential for a conflict over how formal the langage taught in school should be.
After the conclusion of the budgeting meeting a few days later, we stop by BB’s house at the end of a walk through the village and jungle. He says that he’s glanced at the book, and saw a few places where words aren’t used quite right. Mostly, though, it looks good; he’s excited to bring the Thangmi language into Class 2 also.
Setting: Jungle, somewhere on the edge of Suspa and Sundrawoti Village Development Committees, Dolakha District, northeast of Kathmandu, a half hour walk since seeing another person or house.
L (education director of the NGO whose project site I was visiting; one part of their educational program is introducing the endangered community language as a subject in the schools): Mirinda*
Me: hajur? (yes?)**
L: What would you do if we met a tiger on the path?
Me: what? I have no idea.
L: Yeah, I don’t know either.
……walk in silence
Me: Are there tigers in this part of Nepal?
L: Tigers, leopards, bears, all sorts of animals. Just the other week a leopard ate someone’s water buffalo an hour’s walk from here.
L: Although, really, if we saw a tiger in the wild, we’d be very lucky. There are only a couple hundred tigers in Nepal. So we’d be really lucky.
*My name sounds to Nepalis like the name of a common orange soda. I think I answer to Mirinda more readily right now than I do to my own pronunciation of my name.
**The conversation translated out of Nepali for all of your benefit.
More on my last week, in Dolakha, coming up.