Tuesday, September 1, 2009
#201-365 Not My Mother Tongue
After the disappointment of not being able post the photo I took earlier of some strange Woman's tongue, remember Julie cleared up what that meant! (waste of pixels). I have been hunting for just the right shot to illustrate the theme, without stretching it in the slightest way (Julie is Back don't ya know) I think this does it but it will mean you have to look at four shots instead of one (In for a Penny in for a Pound as we used to say as a kid).
As some of you know I am a volunteer Indonesian Lecturer at U3A Redcliffe (University of the Third Age U3A) a group dedicated to the concept of self help in keeping our Grey Matter Turning over so that it doesn't petrify too much. I first started teaching here in a effort to preserve some of my Linguistic ability for as long as I could. I started in about 1993 and barring around 30 months where work restrictions (I had to work yikes) I have been conducting a weekly lesson which has netted me a lot of friends, a few enemies and a barrel full of fun.
In early April I was contacted by a former member of U3A Redcliffe who was now involved in The Friendship Force and as part of their activities, they were fostering a group of Indonesian English Teachers who were visiting Australia and who were scheduled to visit several Institutions that it was hoped would give them a wider view of what Australia was all about. She put it to us that it would be mutually beneficial for some members of this group to visit U3A Redcliffe to see what it was we were trying to achieve
Five Members of this group, Namely Mr Joko Wicoyo, from Yogyakarta Central Java, Mrs Heri Sulistyawatiaro, from Jakarta West Java, Mrs Hartini Taher, from Jakarta West Java, Mrs Sri Ndadhari, from Yogyakarta Central Java and Ms Titik Hastuti, from Yogyakarta Central Java.
Attended our premises where they were officially greeted by our Current President Jeff Taylor (1st Photo). They then visited our computer class (for seniors), where they met some of the Tutors and Students and generally discussed the difficulties the Aged find in dealing with computers (2nd Photo).
The third photo shows them visiting a French Class that was in progress at the time, and where Joko (Mr Wicoyo) delivered a speech in very erudite English which touched on the importance of learning the Languages of the world in an effort to foster world peace. The last photo shows them interacting closely (and loudly) with the U3A choir who were practicing at the time.
As you can see I haven't stretched even a fibre of the theme, but I would like the opportunity to flesh out a few of the nuances that I see as being important, in this visit. First off, I speak (and teach) Indonesian, (Not My Mother Tongue), The five visiting Teachers speak and teach English (Not Their Mother Tongue), Jeff Taylor speaks and teaches (or has taught) German, Latin, Greek, Middle English and Old English (Anglo Saxon throughout his Acedemic Life, (None are His Mother Tongue). The French Teacher Chantal Bon speaks English which is (Not Her Mother Tongue), while teaching French. The computers that were in evidence in that photo, incorporate many arcane languages which are definitely (Not My Mother Tongue) and by finishing up in the Choir Class they were dealing with the most Universal of Languages (music) but any who have heard me sing will verify that this is (Not My Mother Tongue) by any stretch of the imagination.
Notice not one ounce of stretch pressure applied to the theme but I seem to have extended it as far as it is likely to go. For me however was the fact that the most important thing to come out of the visit, was the germ of an idea was planted. (Background: Indonesia has one of the collectively poorest populations on Earth, and as such the people are very self reliant on a community base level Their Cultural Motto is Gotong Royong loosely "Self Help" communities have to work together to survive) The five Indonesian Teachers that we met informed us that, in Indonesia as a whole any student that wants to get ahead, must know and speak English because the University is written in and taught in English. It is their tool to advancement of life. All five however acknowledged that the concept of U3A where people can not only continue to learn after leaving the workforce proper but to contribute skills that others have come to see a need for late in life, was a real value to their families. They all voiced to me independently words to the effect that: "This could be so useful for my parents, we must do something about setting it up!" If this germ takes hold and arms the elderly of South East Asia (Even in isolated pockets) and if our meeting brings that about, I will die a happy man.