Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Refugees, the Refugees

Below is a journal entry that I read for my Internship credit that I earned during my time at the International Rescue Committee. I got an A.

There are many cultures and communities represented on any given week at the IRC ESL classes. Of them, one of my favorite to interact with is the Iraqis. There has been an influx of Kurdish refugees, and we've had a consistent group on Wednesdays attending ESL classes. It's a fairly large group of individuals; they always sit together a the back table and converse over the instructions of the activities in a mixture of Kurdish and Arabic. The clearcut leader of the group is an older gentleman named Hamid. Hamid is a lively, middle-aged man that arrived here in the United States with his family only a few months ago. He's a lot of fun, and excuses my poor attempt at recalling my Arabic, appreciative of me trying. But, Hamid is by far one of the friendliest individuals that we have in class. Many of these students have some horrifying stories. The Kurds have been aggressively oppressed in Iraq for a long time, highlighted by Sadaam Hussein's atrocities against the Kurdish people during his reign. Of the stories that I have heard regarding the persecution of entire people groups, the Kurds have faced some of the worst. But, Hamid and his crew stand out quickly by their interaction with each other and with other students. They are jovial there in the back of the classroom, laughing at each other's pronunciations, telling jokes, and actively engaging with students from other cultures. This is a rarity, as the students tend to keep to their own ethnic groups. However, the Kurds are quick to branch out to the students around them. It's a fresh and contagious approach that lightens the invisible tension that exists in the classroom. I've been largely impressed by their eagerness to interact with other students. This tendency makes my job as the instructor much easier, as the general discomfort of being surrounded by strangers that you have nothing in common with. It's fun to see some of these walls come down, though. Because, in reality, these students have so much in common with one another. They've all come from similar backgrounds, they're all in entirely new situations, and they're all fighting to learn a language that sucks to learn. So, once they begin interacting with one another, they see their similarities and end up enjoying class more. Hamid and the Kurds continually impress me with the way that their joyful interaction affects the dynamics of the classroom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Summer Updates. Come Early and Watch the Opener.

So, I'm officially on Summer break. I thought I'd take an opportunity to update you, my reader, on what is happening in my life. I've been inconsistent in my posting, and I'm sorry for that. I've got Johan Sebastian Bach on the headphones, and coffee by my side. Let's dance. School concluded last week, I spent four or five days putting in a lot of hours to get my EOS work done, and ended up very pleased with the results. It was my best semester yet as far as grades go. Summer classes will start as soon as we get back from Crooked Creek (YL camp) in the first week of June. So, until then, I'm taking it easy. I've got some loose-based work to be done, enough to keep busy without going crazy. We'll see how that goes.

 I got to attend my younger brother Lee's graduation in Charleston last weekend. Priscilla and I went and spent the weekend up there. It was great to see the folks and Lee and Mere. We did miss the Castenedas. I'm getting itchy to see those babies again, too. I really enjoy bringing Peach into my family dynamic. She really thrives and makes my family more complete for me somehow. I don't know. It was a great weekend. Part of my effort to post this update is because I realized when I was with my parents how little they know about what's going on in my life due to a lack of consistent communication. They're coming in town this weekend and I'll be playing tour guide through the Dirty Dirty.

 My good friend Micah Dalton has been working with me on producing my first EP. He's got some of his really talented friends on board, and we're set to begin recording next weekend. I'm really excited to have a quality product that I can give to people, and the process to lock down the five songs that we'll be recording is taking a lot of my time and effort. I'm really excited about it. I've got to get my Kickstarter page going. Anyway, stay tuned for that.

 Young Life is still going really, really well. We've had a second club and last night took 20+ kids on a big scavenger hunt through downtown Decatur. It was amazing. We're taking 15 or so Decatur kids with us on the bus to Colorado in a few weeks. It's been such a blessing to be a part of everything over there. I love the team, I love the kids, I love the vision, I love that God is doing all of this undeniable work and letting us in on it. Camp will be nuts, and we're still pushing to get more kids on board the bus. We shall see.

 But, the coffee's gone. And, there are kickstarters to design. Thanks for reading. Go listen to Josh Oliver and read Kurt Vonnegut. Salam.

Hawaiian Pidgin and the Rouse of Academia. (or, "System beating, as I beat your system.")

Here is the gist of my final research paper (minus the filler, [school's a joke]) on Hawaiian Pidgin that some of you shareholders might be interested in. Enjoy:

 ...As power structures are carried out on a global scale, there is an imperialistic effect on the languages that are spoken in the marginalized parts of the world. As languages like English, French, Spanish, and Dutch have been spread globally on the coat tails of forceful conquest and occupation of indigenous peoples, Creoles have emerged as an adaptation to that takeover. The Creole that has developed among the Hawaiian people, called “Hawaiian Pidgin,” perfectly personifies this type of adaptation. ...Hawaiian Pidgin shows evidence of a resistance to imperialism that is admirable and commendable, while establishing an exclusivity that strengthens the community it serves to identify.

 II. Colonization and Linguistic Imperialism

 As history has unfolded, there has always been a push by the more powerful and better-equipped civilizations to take control over the weaker ones. ... (Hawaii) is an excellent example of this phenomena. The Hawaiian Islands were first visited by Captain James Cook, an English navigator that arrived in 1778. From the time of his arrival until the eventual annexation by the United States in 1898 and establishment as a US State in 1959, there was a constant cycle of “settlers” coming into the islands and taking control of the land, wealth, and economy (Musick, 1898.) The result of this economic and political takeover was an established group of white, English-speaking landowners that held the majority of political power over the islands. The cane sugar industry, controlled by these European and American businessmen, exploded in the early nineteenth century. This invited in multiple waves of immigrants from a plethora of Asian nations, including Japan, China, The Philippines, and Korea (Michener, 1959.) Many of these immigrants went right to work in the cane fields and came into direct contact with other immigrants with whom they shared no common language. Thus was Hawaiian Pidgin born; as a means of communication between immigrant workers and the English-speaking individuals in control. As it developed and spread, it has become the dominant language among local and native Hawaiians.

 III. Pidgin

 Hawaiian Pidgin is a language that borrows words and grammatical structures from several different languages. These include Tagalog, Japanese, Portuguese, Cantonese, and English (Marlow, 2008.) While it resembles English most directly, it utilizes vocabulary from these various origins extensively. A common phrase that is heard is, “You go stay go, I go stay come. M’bai you go be late.” This is a phrase, as native speaker Domingo Los Banos explained in a July 17, 2011 interview with NPR, that would be used to tell a friend to go on to an event without the speaker, and that the speaker would be coming later. “You go stay go,” means “You go ahead and go.” And, “I go stay come,” means, “I will come later,” as a shortened form, perhaps, of “I am still going to come,” with “later” implied by the use of the word “stay.” Also, the SAE phrase, “If you want this banana, eat it quickly, it will be okay” would be said, “You likee banana, you wikiwiki kau kau, mai tai.” Here, the word “wikiwiki” is a load word of the Hawaiian language meaning “quickly,” and “kau kau” is a phrase that was adapted by the Chinese after they heard it from American sailors using the word “chow” to refer to food or eating. So, in addition to specifically modified grammatical structures, there are many loan words used in Hawaiian Pidgin. For example:

Word           Origin                   Meaning in Pidgin
Giri-Giri      Japanese               “Cowlick”
Kau-Kau     Chinese Dialect    “Eat”
Wikiwiki     Hawaiian              “Quickly”
Ma’ke          Hawaiian               “Dead”

 IV. Cultural Implications

Now, with this development of Pidgin, there are many cultural implications that arise. Pidgin is used as a cultural identifier. For a speaker of Hawaiian Pidgin, it is a crucial connection that is made with fellow speakers. ...Lee Tanuchi, a native Hawaiian speaker of Hawaiian Pidgin, said in an interview with NPR, “It really makes us very unique because we have this thing that we can interject with each other… daily in our lives. As soon as we meet each other, you can tell the people that come from Hawaii, that know how to speak pidgin and then switch over to good English; then you know that person has really arrived." This is a crucial point. For speakers of Creoles and Pidgins, their cultural identity has often been taken away from them to some degree. ...As Hawaiian Pidgin developed, it was regarded as a lesser language. Kent Sakoda, a professor at the University of Hawaii says in the film, The Voice of Hawaii, "Pidgin was associated to the working class. It was the language that was enough to do medial labor on the plantation. But, in the urban environment, for the middle class, they thought it wasn't appropriate; that you had to learn Standard English to get ahead." Recently, however, this has begun to change. As linguists and local scholars have gotten their message across, their have been huge advancements in the legitmization of Hawaiian Pidgin in the common perception. There is also developing availability of distinguished literary works translated into Hawaiian Pidgin, including The New Testament (“Da Jesus Book) and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will ("Twelf' Night, or Whateva.") These and other advancements in the recognition of Hawaiian Pidgin are solidifying the local and native Hawaiians’ ability to indentify themselves as Hawaiian. The culture is effectively being preserved and regarded highly, in part because of the persistence and prevalence of Hawaiian Pidgin. The exclusivity that it fosters provides a solidarity that is essential for the individual’s cultural identity.

 V. Conclusion

 (Hawaiian pidgin is good.)