Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding a nurturer

We recently moved from Kazakhstan to Pakistan. We'd been away from Kazakhstan for over a year, and went there for just three weeks to dispose of our stuff, and prepare a shipment for Pakistan. So during those brief three weeks in Kazakhstan, we did ten hours of supercharged participation in our Kazakh life even though we were leaving Kazakhstan, because we're not in Phase 6 yet in Kazakh,and the GPA holds that growing participation lasts to the end of one's sojourn in a particular languacultural world, and if you're not in Phase 6, and the end hasn't transpired, then you do supercharged participation activities!

 Next we found ourselves in Pakistan. Much of the speech we heard around us was not Urdu (though we hear plenty of Urdu, too). We at first assumed it was Punjabi we were hearing (it turns out it was four or five languages), and we thought we would become GPs in a Punjabi world. However, we were then told that the local indigenous language is Potwari, which is relatively closely related to Punjabi, but not mutually intelligible. So Potwari is our new world. (The Punjabis are relative newcomers to this area.)

 A Punjabi friend said he could find us a Potwari nurturer. He brought one, or so we thought. They guy seemed less than confident about the things he was saying to us in Phase 1, Session 1. The next day at the scheduled time, our Punjabi friend showed up with someone else. The first guy didn't feel like coming! So much for the first guy. (He has been back on a purely social visit.) This second guy had great difficulty with Phase 1, Session 1. He couldn't say, "This is a man," and he told us there is no word in Potwari that means "we". So we explored a little more deeply, and it turned out the guy wasn't Potwari at all, but Punjabi. So that led us to enquire about the first guy. Our Punjabi friend checked into it, and the first guy was Punjabi as well.

Then that same Punjabi friend said he found a true Potwari, but the guy was asking what seemed like an outlandish amount per hour. Deciding on the amount to pay was in fact a problem. We checked with a language school, and chose their beginning-teacher hourly wage as what we would offer potential nurturers. Judging by people's reactions, I felt it must be a bit low, and so I checked with another language school, and their beginning-teacher hourly wage was double that of the first school. The amount was still reasonable for us, and seemed to make more sense to local people.

But we still needed to find someone. We started going through the shops and asking people "What is your mother tongue?" We had another false lead, as a Hazaraval guy came and offered his services (their language is called Hindko). It's as though people can't see why the specific language should matter that much! Soon three people had said they would look around for us, and one said he'd come himself. He was a taxi driver. He came, but found Phase 1, Session 1 too demanding "mentally", and said he just couldn't do it along with his taxi driving.

A couple days later, the taxi driver returned with a young student in tow who is Potwari and wanted to do the job. It turns out he is very capable and motivated, although his variety of Potwari is quite far removed from our locality. We decided to do the first 100 hours and some of Phase 2 with him, if we can, and then go on in Phase 2 with local people, and start learning all the adjustments we need to make. After we had settled on this student as our nurturer, someone else showed up, the Hazaraval guy who had come before, with a Potwari friend in tow! Too late. This Potwari is really local, and a close neighbour. We took his name and address for later reference.

 So there you have it. A garden-variety nurturer search, with typical challenges.I make it sound not too hard, but in fact, I suffer from severe nurturer search anxiety, and can get rather depressed during the process. Hope it's really over for now!

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