29 October 2011


It would, in my opinion, be unfair to say that Iou and I did not work hard during that summer of 1966 on the Yapese language lessons.  Nevertheless, I, at least, was only dimly concerned about deadlines.  Don, my boss, was not dim about them at all.  In September, 1966, some hundreds of eager new Peace Corps Volunteers were to arrive for training courses in Moloka'i  I don't recall how many of them were for Yap - maybe 50 to 60 - but the Yapese language teachers who would teach them needed some sort of language lessons.  And Iou and I had much work undone.

It is probably not the case that the development of printed materials took longer in the days before word processors - but the work certainly required a lot more labour.  A small army of workers was needed.  Iou and I planned out a lesson - working, of course, completely by instinct, since neither of us had any training in what was involved in language teaching.  I had been a student of foreign languages, and I suppose I followed the model thus presented to me.

We would write out some pages of material.  It was given to the typist.  No nice word-processors, backspace or click with a mouse to fix errors, nice fonts for phonetic symbols, click to print multiple copies.  These were typewriters.  They were the latest and greatest of typewriters, to be sure - IBM Selectric "golf ball" typewriters, with carbon-film ribbon and white-out tape for correction!  These were, as well, the days of photocopiers - fairly new at the time - so the typists didn't have to fight with carbon copies.  Nevertheless, it was a lot of work.

Don could see that Iou and I were not going to make it - so he threw us out, off-island, to Kaua'i.  The University hired a small house for us to live in.  No electricity - we wouldn't need it!  No car for us, and quite a distance from town - I guess we were near Lihue, but maybe not.  The secretary who did our typing was our contact - twice a week, I think - because her boyfriend was the pilot who regularly flew to Kaua'i.  I suppose that determined our location.

Iou and I were there for several weeks - maybe as many as six, if memory serves.  It was very boring :-)

We worked hard.  We were motivated!   We were not to be allowed to leave until the lessons were done.  I remember that we had a BB pistol.  In the evening the light of our petrol lantern drew enormous numbers of insects to the fly screen on the door.  The BB pistol did not have enough impact to pierce the screen (fortunately) - but it was a break in the boredom to shock the observers from their posts - for a minute or two.

We must have finished, because eventually we did return to Honolulu.  I began my studies as a student.  But I lived in Honolulu only part-time.  Regularly - was it every other week?? - I was flown to Moloka'i to help with the language teaching.  I don't recall details, but I think I spent one - or was it two? - nights there each time I flew over.  It was on one of these trips that we saw Judy the jaguarundi, mounted with her lips pulled back in a snarl.

I had another experience connected with Moloka'i that almost ended in disaster.

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