7-20 I’ve Learned to Integrate

So, I arrived at Northern Care Youth Center (NCYC) on Thursday morning. Brian and I made a quick tour of 8 local schools to drop off our letters and make sure we had meeting times established. After lunch, I went back to NCYC. They were doing a nem cooking workshop. (Nemis like a springroll and they are sold in almost every Chinese store.) I stood around, watching other people do things. I wasn’t the only one standing around, because watching other people do things is a national pass time. I cracked a few jokes about making sure to cut up the hot water (cultural humor) and generally hung around.

Poi class at NCYC.  There are going to be some bruises today…
I met the coordinator of the Youth Center and got to chatting. She is excited to have me teach a basic poi class and an arts and crafts class. I realized I didn’t have the supplies needed to teach, so I asked if I could make a few sets of practice poi from scraps from the sewing class. She was fine with that.
I went to the sewing class and chatted with the tutor there. She agreed to let me use a sewing machine outside of class times and showed me where the bag of scraps was. She had to leave because she had another commitment, but left me with scissors and fabric. I sat down on a mat and got to work. About five minutes later, one of the mamas in sewing class came up and asked me who I was and what I was doing at NCYC. We got to chatting. It took another 5 minutes for the second mama to join the conversation. Two hours later, I had all my poi cut out, had contact information for a village we’ve been trying to reach, and an offer of transport to the village.
The next day, I arrived in at NCYC after lunch. The youth center coordinator and the NCYC manager got in a lively discussion of the politics within the youth center around the fire dance/poi class. It culminated in them deciding that I should meet with the youth, and that the coordinator and I should go to a fire show.
The beginners fire show.  Not pictured: Kava.
She and 2 tutors picked me up in a taxi and we went to the show at 7:30 at night. We watched the show. We drank kava. We drank more kava. We called the taxi. We had another shell of kava. We waited for the taxi. We ate laplap. The taxi finally came at 10:30 at night. They dropped me off at the hotel at nearly 11 pm.
In short, it took me two days in a new city to make friends and end up spending a late night with ni-Vans who seemed to genuinely enjoy my company and for me to get into a political mess as the arbitrator between two groups. Yep, I’m getting good at this “Peace Corps” thing.

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