An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
THE notion of globalisation dictates that nations and peoples in today’s world are increasingly interdependent and must step up to learn, understand and appreciate each other’s cultural differences and together map ways forward.
With government and institutional support, such interaction can happen at all levels of society. Universities around the world play a significant role in ensuring people-to-people interaction through scholarly in research and the dissemination of research information.
The Centre for Melanesian Studies and other research centres at the University of Goroka attract researchers from all over the world, who come to research or present papers at conferences hosted by the university.
Academics and non-academics have come to work and live among Papua New Guineans, interact with colleagues on a daily basis and extend these formal relationships to informal settings such as the family.
The expatriates relate to surrounding communities in their own ways. Some through research, others through organised social activities and others through informal recreation activities such as getting together for a few beers, playing sport or spending weekends with colleagues and friends in the village.
The Centre for Melanesian Studies hosted a German scholar who was attached to Maynooth University in Ireland.
In 2010, Ivo Syndicus (pictured above with me and Jimmy Drekore) came to do research for his Master degree and returned in 2013 for his PhD research into higher education in PNG.
On his first visit, while doing research in the Simbu Province, he met a family from Boman village among the Golin tribe of Gumine District.
With Ivo’s fluency in Tok Pisin and his wide smile, the Boman people could not let him go and he returned in 2013 to live among them.
His Boman family call him Yalwai, a revered name in Simbu for people with exemplary moral character and good standing in the community. Yalwai’s connection with his Boman family has been valued among the Kipa’ku clan of the Golin tribe and Simbus in general.
Yalwai would make time available to attend Simbu Students’ Association meetings at the University of Goroka and to visit his family in Boman. He has accompanied me to Simbu on a number of occasions.
Yalwai has worked with and assisted many students here at the University of Goroka. He lives among the students and relates well to staff and the surrounding community.
Yalwai’s biological father came from Germany to visit him around December last year and he was taken to his adopted village in Boman where a small party was hosted. He brought me pork meat wrapped in dry banana leaves.
I could not thank him enough for his wisdom in giving a Simbu man pork wrapped in dry banana leaves, a culturally appropriate way of parceling food.
Yalwai left for Ireland recently. He is spending time at the University of PNG and in Australia before returning to Ireland where he will put his data together and commence his PhD thesis.
His family and friends in PNG has showered him with gifts, and bilums topped the list.
Yalwai decided to decorate his house at Boman with bilums and promised to return sometime in future.