Pacific Voyagers as messengers
From the Uto ni Yalo as we pass through the middle of a swirling low pressure system that has us wet and battered most of these last two days. Interesting weather – different from anything we’ve encountered since departing San Diego in January!
Previous articles have been exploring education and what it takes to become an effective teacher and environmental education strategies in particular. Some comments were somewhat critical and as such it’s time to offer construction to the criticism. If we don’t ask the correct questions, it’s often difficult to obtain the answers we are seeking.
What must we do collectively or as individual societies [druas] to insure that our messages are communicated and learned by the widest number of people? Our response will be in two parts – general planning and specific teaching methods.
Why not create a Pacific Voyagers’ Outreach Program? Perhaps such a concept has already been discussed, but we haven’t observed an organised in-port, fleet wide effort that attempts to accomplish the PVS objectives as articulated during our retreat at Fare Hape, Tahiti. By that we mean effectively utilising the variety of talents that obviously exist on the vakas to best promote our messages to the widest audience there. In addition to each crew enjoying some relaxation time, they would be expected to devote some shore time to one of a number of initiatives.But first we would need a Human Resources Inventory before we could implement our program. What skills, talents, academic background, life experiences, interests and aptitudes do members of the crews of each drua[vaka] bring to PVS or to their own vaka? Perhaps this set of qualities could be added to the criteria used to select crew members? This Pacific wide movement has evolved to where there’s much more than the medium [the vaka] to the message!
For instance at present our inventory might yield several areas where outreach could be very important.
1. Medical personnel could assist at local health centers and talk with patients and staff.
2. Teachers could visit schools and share with their local counterparts and students.
3. PV youth could visit religious and other youth groups.
4. Sports Coaches [rugby, soccer, basketball etc.] could conduct clinics and during/after the clinic share the messages.
5. Marine Biologists and oceanographers could meet with local and governmental environment and fisheries groups.
6. There would be some crew who would prefer to remain with their vaka and help with guided tours. With a bit more structure we could accomplish more than goodwill. Have a table set up on the wharf/dock outside the vaka with handouts and articles for sale that promote our messages. T-shirts and other articles of clothing with a message on them would be another way of disseminating our ideas.
7. Those who write the blogs and articles could meet with the local media at a conference and insure that accurate messages are published.
8. Humanitarian initiatives to hospitals, churches, senior citizen homes and orphanages would have an impact and generate positive publicity. If time permits why not small PV work parties assisting with local self-help projects [especially good if they are environmental!].
Things to remember, stress, focus on.
1. PV or individual vaka crew are more visible in port than might be anticipated. Therefore their public AND private activities are often scrutinised by the local community. Who do we represent on shore?
2. Stand up in front of a crowd testimonials are often not effective ways of getting our messages across.
3. Respect for tradition should prioritize other activities and ALL PV should attend the formal ceremonies unless otherwise informed.
Specific suggestions for activities to promote our messages in Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
On the vaka for visiting school groups. [Vary approach depending upon the age of the visiting students].
1. Have a handout of a drawing/sketch of the vaka without labels ready to give to each student. Take them for a guided tour of the vaka. Students record the name of each vaka part in English and the vernacular on their handout. Tell students those that do the best job and can recall a part later will get a reward. Before they depart let them give back answers.
2. Have inexpensive large “butcher” or newsprint paper ready. After a story is told [an encounter with whales; watching sea birds feed; saving a sea turtle – there are many such stories] have pre-selected groups [peer cooperatives] create a picture that illustrates the story. Encourage groups to discuss their pictures as they draw and colour. Have crayons ready for use.
3. Either as small groups or together create a poem [haiku, etc] about some aspect of marine conservation or wind and solar power. Try to have enough crew ready to work with small groups. Encourage use of related vocabulary already displayed printed on newsprint paper. When finished they can be read out and appreciated by all. Time permitting the poems can be illustrated.
4. Most vakas have people who play the guitar or ukelele. Work with students to compose a song based on one of our messages and with a familiar tune so that all can sing along. For instance it can be as simple as “Old MacDonald had a Farm” with younger ones and something more appropriate for the older ones. If the former is used it might be composed as – “Captain Smith had a drua[vaka] and on this vaka there was an “ULI” with an uli here and an uli there, here an uli etc; then go to another vaka part and each singer must name each one that has already been sung just as the song names farm animal types we name drua parts or marine animals!
The older students could compose a song to one of many popular tunes and sing it in rounds perhaps.
5. Use that composed song and lead students in a dance or haka. For Fiji it could be the “Tui Boto” around the deck with crew and students taking part. Students could be naming vaka parts, marine terms etc as they move.
6. Using crayons and “butcher” paper encourage students to do “rubbings” of the carvings done especially those that have traditional meanings. Once completed they can be interpreted.
Why not a harbour tour with a difference? Each student passenger gets assigned to a crew member who teaches him/her how to wear a life jacket/vest. While sailing each crew member “gets to know” their student and tells a story//encourages the use of related vocabulary//explains how a drua is sailed// allows the student an opportunity to experience what it is like to be on board as a sailor.
It goes without saying that with any/all these activities time is a factor. About a half an hour is more desirable than 15 minutes. The on board “teacher[s] will select activities that they feel comfortable with and can be used by a certain age group. School visits where crew visit schools could allow more time for activities. There is, without a doubt, numerous other activities that can be included. We are only limited by our creativity.
Any Outreach Program requires advance planning. PV or individual drua Liaison Officers who are aware of local contacts will be a big help in facilitating these programs and activities. Each vaka has the manpower to make an impact with outreach programs. The onus now is on their shoulders to carry this experience to another level.
Tabu soro Viti kei Rotuma. Your drua is getting nearer home! We look forward to sharing with you and in Samoa and later the Solomons, Vanuatu and hopefully Rotuma!
We can see clearly now the rain has lessened!