Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tanoliu Harsh Eviction on Efate vs. Dakota Pipeline

Hey there! So we've begun our fall podcast for "Introduction to Intercultural Communication" at UMBC. Every couple of weeks we'll talk about different intercultural experiences I've recently had in Vanuatu. This week I'd like to focus on the Tanoliu (Havannah Harbor area) eviction, another example of the common practice of 'land grabbing' here in Vanuatu. Since most land is not surveyed and relies on kastom stories to define land borders, selling land is a super sticky situation.

Also, like traditional land ownership elsewhere, the ancestral ground that most live on feel connected to it in a way most city dwellers will never understand. Everyone has a garden so you are dependent and thus respectful to the land you have. This is extremely fertile land that, in a time where so many people struggle to find food, we're clearing people off of their land to build concrete tourist spots.

Here's a couple of articles in the Vanuatu Daily Post covering the situation:

Over 200 evicted

By Thompson Marango
Sep 9, 2016

Around 200 people were evicted Wednesday this week from settlements between the near Tanoliu Village following a court order.

Eyewitnesses informed Daily Post that a team of Vanuatu Police and Mobile Force executed the order which resulted in houses including a church being pulled down.

The court order is said to cover an area of 607 hectares of land that has reportedly been leased out by the landowners.

It is yet unknown how many people exactly were affected when bulldozers razed through their homes and will soon do the same to their gardens.

Some of the families have relocated to nearby Tanoliu Village, Malafau Village, and some to Mosso Island.

Police and VMF returned yesterday as bulldozers are still clearing the area.

Full information on the operation is yet to be released by police.

The next day VDP followed up with a police report:

Tanoliu eviction executed smoothly: Police

By Thompson Marango
Sep 10, 2016

The joint operation that executed an eviction court order at a settlement near Tanoliu village, north Efate Wednesday this week was completed successfully without any disturbance.

The Vanuatu Police Media Unit Reported that the eviction of over 200 people was executed by the police with the assistance of the Court Sheriff.

The order emanates from a Supreme Court decision in Civil Case no. 220 of 2012, a land dispute case between Goodies Limited and Mr. Frank Ishmael, Tamara Malas, John Tatai Malas and families.

Five Permanent buildings were dismantled along with 6 ½ blocks iron roof building and 21 temporary buildings.

In the process of executing the court eviction order, several community leaders have expressed concerns over the development with which the investor intends to embark on, arguing that the land is fertile and good for agriculture and its subsequent use for other purposes will now have long term negative impact on locals who are heavily reliant on farming to sell their products at the market to earn a living.
Vanuatu is also considered a 1st tier TURF reserve

(kastom fishing rights): Global Ecology and Conservation

So based on all of that how do we react to this situation? How does this situation relate to the current South Dakota pipeline struggle in the US on Native American protected ground? It's good to reflect on cross-cultural similarities as we tend to focus on the differences.

Huffington Post Article

NPR has many articles too!

It is so crucial for us as humans to step back, outside of the current global political xenophobia that's going on (Brexit, Trump, Dilma's impeachment, pressure on Germany to change immigration policy, Burkinis in France, Turkey EU 'deal' to house unwanted refugees, etc) and check back with what we're struggling to maintain:

clean air and water, fertile ground so we can eat, and harmony with other countries to secure that we don't drop a nuke somewhere.

This week's reading is on body language and cultural space. How is coverage of these events framing body language and cultural space? What does that say about what we, as the consumer, want to see in our news?

Another example is the analyzing the body language/cultural representation of the Oscar-nominated film "Tanna" set here in Vanuatu. Here's the actors visiting NYC:

Here the cast is dressed in traditional garb from their village and what's portrayed in the movie. However, what about the actor in the cowboy hat, guitar, and NYC briefs? Would we allow any man to walk down the street of NYC in briefs, hat, and a guitar? No shoes, no shirt, full service? Did the actors choose to wear their garb or is the manager telling them they must represent Vanuatu in a traditional light? In reality these guys (and gal) travel in t-shirts and board shorts like the rest of us....congrats on their nomination, but another example of putting our expectations of culture versus true representation of culture vs globalization into perspective.

Variety Magazine's

Australia Selects ‘Tanna’ as
Foreign-Language Oscar Contender

copyright Screen Australia

That's it for now folks!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mi Stap Bakegen!

Hallllooooooo everyone!

So after a brief 6 month hop over to Paraguay to further my sociolinguistic research on Portunhol (the mix of Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) I am BACK in Vila as a Field Project Coordinator for the Max Planck Institute.

You can check out their wonderful research, including our Vanuatu project here.

I'm establishing our field base here in Vila while supporting our researchers trekkin' through the bush on Malekula island. Was sorry to miss the scouting trip on the boat this time around, hopefully next year! Anywhoo met some great folks and reconnecting with my VKS (cultural centre) family, mi bin misim yu tumas!

didn't forget how beautiful the sunsets are's from my backyard!

relaxing day on Erakor Island with several games of 7-lock and a cold brewski

Stopped by VKS and Jimmy's doing sand drawings now, way to go tuff Kanaki!!!

Drawing love in the sand....

out by Anchor Inn

Aelan kakae bakegen! So this is bok choy cooked with beef, soy sauce, all poured over 'special yam' simboro handmade by sista Eve.....soooooo tasty!
Simboro is island cabbage, kind of a spinach meets seaweed plant, stuffed with grated starch (yam, manioc, taro) and then boiled in freshly made coconut milk...when done with love and care it is DIVINE!

I will never have enough Vanuatu sunsets!

sun going down over Au Fare, they have a new pizza service called Pizza Hot, no joke!

Yep this is real! #copyrightinfringementwhat?

They're garlic bread with goat cheese is AMAZING!

ale cruise ship!

I forgot that $5 is normal for a beer :(

Out in the harbor on Independence Day (July 31)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

OGCIO IT Training!

So my final project, since I'm running out of time, is to do some IT training in Bislama....since I'm obsessed with Prezi just had to do it!

Log in process:

Outlook vs. Gmail:

Monday, November 23, 2015

November Naoia

So's sticky, sometimes rainy, but still ever so gorgeous. Early November I had a bad cough/sinus infection (it's going around the island) so I was out of commission for the first couple of weeks. However, November 1st was crazy because the t-shirt printing shop close to my house (1/2 block) caught on fire in a series of probably arson of a political nature but SABER. Anyway captured this:

For the video click here

Peace Corps evacuated me to the fancy Coconut Palms Resort for the night since my power was cut. Unfortunately I was pretty sick but there was a wonderful breakfast buffet and sparkling pool that I recovered by the next day! Unfortunately the aftermath was pretty bad, and who knows what the business insurance policy is here:

On a happier note the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (VKS), where I work, put on the first Teouma Lapita Festival to celebrate the findings of Lapita remains (mostly pottery and burial sites with complete skeletons) so we were out in Teouma for 5 days celebrating that including local food, dances from around the islands, and live entertainment at night, it was a blast!

Banner designed by Jimmy...we used my leftover paint to finish it off :)

photo by VKS

photo by VKS

big tam tam music, photo VKS

This was hilarious! So much fun, he was screaming because he is "sick" but wants to dance,
photo VKS

And a magic show afterwards!

prizes for the sporting events included rice, eggs, and cow freshly slaughtered

The boyz

Sista Evelyne is the BEST! Makin' traditional food in bamboo shoots with saltwater, grated manioc and island cabbage, so good!

Shoot the Moon....October

Wow, so I put my head down for paperwork's sake and BOOM, it's Thanksgiving? When did that happen?! I guess time does fly when summer comes....and life.

To be honest, I'm not ready to leave Vanuatu. I've spent the past two months getting my life ready for Paraguay (Fulbright paperwork galore!) and wrapping up my duties here with Peace Corps (reports, medical exams, reports, surveys, grant writing, meh).

The weekends have been lovely and sunny, and the mornings were filled with calls to home and writing followed by a good "spel" in the sun in my great backyard, watching the papayas turn, the tropical flowers bloom, and enjoying the smell of sun-kissed bedding. A chilled, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for breakfast and eggplant tacos have kept me going, although I am slacking on the running/swimming side of things, it is HUMID!

October: Early was my adventure to Tanna to hike active volcano Mt. Yasur and sleep in a breezy treehouse (at least 2 stories high) with a shaky staircase (they replaced in on my last day). Encountered some great Kiwi ladies and went up to the volcano at night to see the works:

This was our night hike. The ash and acid rain were crazy so yep, I wore my sunglasses at night! Took some great footage with my GoPro that I'm working on editing. Wasn't too cold though! We had a few shells of kava after which made it all good :)

Our day hike up at the top. Once the rain and sulfur kicked in I had to cover myself! I look like I have a hazmat suit but I swear it's just a rain jacket!

Surfing down the ashy side was great! Ok so it was really steep and I slid on my butt most of the way.....I still have ash in my pants!

On top of a Martian land....really does remind me of the pictures you see of the Mars Rover, just more gray...

Banyan trees are the best! There were many on Tanna that had been built around a wooden structure and the roots grew around it to create a natural nakamal (special place to drink kava and storian)

barefoot hike to the East coast.....great idea at the beginning, but my soft Western feet were so sore! There was black sand for most of the walk (1 1/2 hours) but the cool saltwater felt GREAT!

This place was AMAZING and you could just hike up to the volcano after breakfast! I highly recommend Thomas & Janet, they are amazing hosts!

Our treehouse....a double decker! If it had a toilet it would be perfect, did have electricity though!

Gorgeous morning view of Mt. Yasur from the treehouse (on the left). 

drive back to the airport, there's no point in making a road because it gets covered in ash everyday, very ghostly at night when we drove to John Frum's village for stringband music.

Didn't celebrate Halloween much this year besides a "pusskat" costume that some PCVs sprung on me! I was busy assistant stage managing Vanuatu's National Music Festival, Fest' Napuan! Was the 20th anniversary so it was a big 5 day celebration!

Day 4 and I'm exhausted! Everyone worked SO hard!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More Malekula....

So the 10 days consisted of going into a village to talk to the chiefs regarding Dr. Gray's project. I was working on organizing the meetings, translating English to Bislama for the research party to the chiefs, and organizing (surprised?) the trip in general! Here's some more pics:

The visitors...

They brought us grapefruit! I gave them peanut M & Ms in return.

running into the dingy!

Lakatoro sunken ships

burger night on the boat!

Nakamal in progress...the totems are amazing!

love this environmental mural!

sunset with the cows

island gangstas!

Hookin' a monster tuna!!!

orange watermelon WHAT?!

meetin' with the chiefs

Ben's night catch!

sailin' the ship!
I tried my hand at this on the rough ride back but it was too choppy for me!

secure the sails!

back on Efate!

sunset on Efate in Vila