Thursday, August 24, 2006

FULL DAYS in Arizona

Have been so busy , running around meeting all sorts of wonderful people. I have been meeting people involved in human rights, health and wellness and so much more. I am presenting a film evening here in Tucson on the 13th Septempber and will be screening films , courtesy of CAAMA,( Central Australian media Asssocaition ) and Warlpiri media( also from Central Australia), at the university of Arizona. I will post more on this after the event. I am so happy to be able to show films from home by our fantastic talented mob.I am sure we will have great feedback.

I am also running a workshop focusing on "The use of Narrative and creative processes that are being used in developing wellness projects for/with/ Indigenous people."
There has been a huge repsonse and I only wish we had a larger room to offer it in. I am offering this with my good friend Deidre Ikin. Deidre will talk specifically about "Narrative Therapy",( as developed by Michael white ). She is joining me here after spending 3 weeks in Oxaca Mexico at an international training conference. I had an email just now and there is a lot of unrest there and gunshots and so of course this is worrying.I heard it started from some issue of underpaid workers/teachers.I don't know much .

I am so excited Deidre is coming.Whilst she is here, we will have such a busy schedule yet also be travelling some. We plan to hire a car for a few days and head north to Sedonna and the Grande Canyon,( stay tuned ).I will be glad to have a small break.

These photos are of my latest adventures. I had to include one of my sexy foot , I have injured. I had my first hand experience with the USA health system. LET me tell all you Australian's reading this ,I am grateful for what we have! The system here is so complex its crazy!It is so hard to even work out who you can go to , never mind the 8 hours you then have to wait to actually see the Dr.

ANYWAY , none of this is slowing me too much. Though maybe its meant to ? I still have been able to do things. I went to a great blues and roots , bluegrass bar. Listened to the music of Greg Morton and his friends . He is the partner of a woman( Debbie ), who works at the American Indian studies department. I met more of the staff that evening. The staff in this department are all really wonderful and very rich in knowledge and willing to share. I am fortunate to be here.

The bikers were some sweet local guys with very kewl Harley's.The bikes were so perfect ! I would have loved a ride if they had offered !

I then spent the day with some wonderful hosts from the PASQUA Yaqui community. Aleena and Christina. This has been a high light so far. These women are so generous in spirit and so helpful and made me feel so welcome.It was wonderful to meet locals.Truly hospitality at its the best. They both work on Health and wellness and education projects for their community and thus organised for me to go out with them for the day .
We left early and headed for the Pasqua Yaqui community in the south and close to the border.I met with a working group who are in the early stages of setting up a digital story project.
I was able to share with them some work in Australia and stories and ideas. I showed them some great sites from home , one is especially good " US MOB " Which is hosted by ABC message stick. Developed by David Vadeviloo with community, in the Northern territory.
( google and have a look).

I then went to talk for an hour or so with the high school students.The Pasqua Yaqui, have their own HIGH SCHOOL. It was wonderful to see and feel the excitement of this. There was about 100 students maybe more ? The students were very interested in Australia. They all wanted to know if I ate KANGAROOS and if it tasted like chicken and if koala bears were big. I had eaten Alligator the night before , so I commented that it had tasted like chicken , everyone had a good laugh.
It was a great sharing time. I learnt a lot about the school system and how things work.Also how we have similar cultures and stories and ways. The retention rates are great ! so something is working. I was told before the school started the drop out rates were a problem. The school has only been here for 2 years and signals a complete turn around. I am very curious about this. As there is a lot of debate at home comcerning " 2 way education " and mainstreaming.

Later we went to meet with an advisory committee of about 30 people, who are meeting to set up projects that incorporate the use of story and narrative and creative processes to promote wellness.I shared about my work and ideas and showed a few digital stories and answered a lot of questions.It is inspiring for me as I feel my research area is on track with what is current for people on the ground in communties.It was very rich and I feel the conversation will continue.

The photo with the trees and courtyard is where a lot of the services to the community are located,I was very impressed. I took this photo of a very beautiful cacti in flower ! The abundance of cacti of all types is astounding and reminds me of Fitzgerald National park, In Western Australia. I was there one year and climbed the peak of a mountain in the park and the variety of banksia that I saw was incredible.It was at the right time of year during the height of flowering season.
The community also has a very successful alternative health program. Also a project to revitalise native produce/ plants / through garden projects. I am here such a short time and could learn so much more.

The other pictures are of the church here that is famous, St Xavier church. It dates from the 1690's and was part of a whole group of missions built at that time across this area. Part of the mission push to take control in a non military way. There is a whole system that spreads out from here.

Like many buildings here it is made in the traditional mud,adobe and is currently under renovations.I did not take a photo from outside due to the renovations as it was wrapped in cloth. INSIDE is truly incredible, and the pics do not do it justice. The thing that struck me , was how physical the religion here is for people. The clothing on Jesus and the saints.The candles in all the nooks with prayers and wishes and offerings everywhere.The blending of what was here before the waves of settlements and conquest merged with the Christian traditions.
Also the saints often have rows of old and new photos of loved ones beneath them.I found this actually very moving. There was one section with many soldiers pictures, all so young and earnest.I felt the atmosphere was very alive with the smells of the candles and the cloth and peoples hopes and dreams.

The other photo is of a smaller chapel on the way back. This stood out to me, as it was right next to the freeway.Then signs next to it announcing a casino. It seemed so at odds! So much a statement of the cultural juxtapositions and clashes,contested veiws. At the same time everything seems to merge here at the border, like a salsa stew.

Further down the road there are signs saying " stop the invasion NOW .Not a reference to wars in Iraq! This I was told is a reference to the crossing of "undocumented workers " or "illegal aliens". We were only half an hour to the border this day.

I am constantly reminded of this issue and the complexities and the emotions it evokes for everyone here. The mix of histories,stories and cultures ,old and new. The history of repeated conquests and land grabs and religion and culture is layer apon layer.

SO , I am very busy and more could be said , but this will do for now. MORE SOON.


At 7:12 PM , Blogger Tom & Joy Grace said...

Hi Helen, Happy birthday from Tim and family. We're down here with M/D...and I'm doing a Blog Refresher course for Dad who's convinced 77 is older than 47; therefore an excuse to forget usernames and passwords!!!!

At 1:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Samia!!

Eddie (from South Dakota)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home