8-8 My Life is Not What I Expected: Part I-Have-No-Idea-How-Many

Fancy-shmancy invitation.  I’m important.

My work with Wan SmolBag hs started to get noticed. Two weeks ago, I received a very pretty, formal invitation to a screening of a film at the Australian High Commissioners Residence. The film, “Trashed,” is about waste management around the world. It seemed interesting and like a good chance to talk to some people, so I went.

I can’t talk to white people. Seriously. Jason and I showed up, shook hands with the person doing the greeting and then wandered out onto the porch. We started by joking with the ni-Van catering staff. Most of the white people, primarily Australians but a few New Zealanders and a Brit or two mixed in, were on the porch. The handful of ni-Van guests were on the grass just off the porch. Jason and I gravitated that way as soon as we ran out of jokes for the servers.

We started by chatting with the peons. The Lord Mayer’s son and driver (hold on, who has a Lord Mayor? Who calls them “Lords” anymore? I guess, the English colonies…) were hiding at the edge of the light. We got to chatting with them. We must have seemed like more fun than the people the Lord Mayor was talking to (or he was worried his driver was getting too tipsy) so he came over. We struck up an interesting conversation.

The owner of RecycleCorps, the only company in Vanuatu doing recycling, came over. Then the conversation got awkward. I disagreed with several of his policy opinions and, me being me, I didn’t keep my mouth shut. Before any of you who know me too well start worrying, I was very polite about my disagreements. There were no swear words involved. But, I continued to disagree. I don’t like to lie, not even by omission and especially not about important issues. So, we politely danced around our disagreements and I got the distinct impression that he considered me a stupid idealist. (I can’t help wondering if that was heightened by being a 28-year-old female. If I’d been a middle-aged man, would he have viewed my opinions differently? Or if it had been Jason voicing them? I digress…) He found a polite out of the conversation and Jason, the Lord Mayor and I started a new conversation with the Japanese Aid country director and head consultant. Both of the Japanese development workers are lovely people and we had an interesting conversation about potential survey methods of property lines and waste management for Port Vila. That lasted until we went to watch the movie.

Movie poster.  Go find it.

The movie was interesting. I would recommend it as a starting point for anyone interested in waste management options in the first world. I don’t think it effectively addressed the needs of the developing world and I was not satisfied with the depth of some of the information presented about research being done, but as an introduction for the general public, it was a great start. The information is accessible, the numbers are clear, the presentation is excellent with a good combination of horrifying and beautiful photography. Seriously, go check it out.  http://www.trashedmovie.com/

After the movie, the caterers came around with food again so we wandered back outside. We once again failed utterly to schmooze with the one white person who came our way. Instead, we had an interesting conversation about plastic bag taxes and reducing the use of plastic bags in Port Vila with the Lord Mayor. It seemed like the idea of a plastic bag tax was brand new to him, which is a bit surprising. Still, if I planted the seed of it in his mind, that’s something.

A bit later, he offered us a lift home. His driver had been drinking steadily since arriving because as the Lord Mayor put it, “He has to come to all these things and then he gets bored, so I drive home.”

In short, after a 3 hours event with a mixed group of ni-Vans, developement workers and ex-pats, Jason and I befriended the ni-Vans, had a lovely conversation with the development workers and utterly failed to connect with the ex-pats. We are going to be so weird when we get home.

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