Friday, January 2, 2009

Bob White's Language

I had dinner at a house last night that was just like any other house in America. There were laptops scattered around the house, the kids were speaking English, and coca-cola was being drunk; all of which made me forget that I was in the Peace Corps.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum I visited a small island that is about 45 minutes off he coast, on Tuesday. It's a private island, that houses 6 families on it. Each family makes their living fishing and selling their catch to neighboring islands or on the mainland. The host family I'm staying with is related to the owners of the island, so we were invited to spend the day. We had to take a small pumpboat over and stayed the afternoon eating, swimming, and walking around the island.

As I went for a walk with my host mom, Anita, I sat to watch the water. I ended up sitting next to the coconut trees and bushes that line the sand, and as I sat I heard whistling. Of course if you hear whistling, you automatically start to whistle back. This goes on for probably 3 minutes, until I look behind me and three little boys who live on the island come bursting from the bushes. They're all giggling and pointing at me. Our whistling continues. It turns into a game of copy cat. I try to think of every easy tune I can think of; and now the boys know the call of Bob White.

They follow us for the rest of our walk, and I learn that they know a little English. It turns out they go to school on a neighoring island. I even got to visit their homes, which during high tide are literally 3 feet from the water. The floors were sand, and the beach around them was cluttered with banka boats and fish nets.

Sometimes it's hard to fathom the diversity in economic resources among Filipinos. To go from sand floors to 4 laptops in a house in the spand of a day makes you think a lot. I wish I could say I have tons of concrete thoughts about this, but honestly I don't. There's still hours of thinking before I can say more. The only thing I can say for sure is that I'm so glad I got a chance to whistle a conversation with those boys.

No comments: