By Natchisiri (Froy Choi) Kunaporn
Growing up, I see myself as an active listener and a nosey observer. I look up at the clouds and never fail to see some sort of picture. There was a period when I was convinced that I was a cloud expert. In long car rides, as the cloud moves along with us, I can go on forever about what is happening up there. I also love listening and looking for the changes in tone and expression so if charisma is a person, I am her audience.
A lot of unexpected events happened today. Other than exchanging a portrait of the contractor for the use of the ladder through the course of the project to finishing a third of the mural design, the massive wall of the community hall is already being plastered by my newly made friend. I spent nearly the whole day with him, surprisingly the language barrier did not affect my learning, and I observed what he was doing. The owner of the tuck shop helped me translate some sentences which surprisingly are not technical at all, especially when I was learning how to plaster a wall. ‘Iwe Sekerera’ means you are smiling or literally ‘you smile’; I kept saying that to the man plastering the wall when he wasn’t smiling as much, as a gesture to reassure myself to stay out of guilt for not being so much help to him (I was terrible at throwing the cement to the wall). Because I was saying that multiple times to him, it was our own personal greeting style. It reminded me that nourishment was necessary when building relationships, and observing is the way to go.
Sometimes when I spend too much time looking at the wall, it gets bigger, and I have felt very discouraged about my project because of how I want it to have a very high impact. The book I am reading now is called ‘About Looking’ written by John Berger. He is a critic and writes a lot of small chapters on all different kinds of art. A quote from a French book during 1950’s about La Tour when translated is “Painting is a magic interpretation of the most profound thoughts and the most beautiful dream” (112), which sheds a bit of light to my doubts. An idea does not happen in a day, it requires a lot of trust and research and a lot of looking.
However, being creative has a great burden to it. For example, when we suggested that the mosquito nets could be used as a football net, it sounded like a very good idea at first but Dr. Stonebanks told us that when fishermen were using the mosquito nets as fishing nets, the rates for Malaria shot up exponentially.
If I can ever master the art of looking, I am pretty sure I will become a cloud expert when I retire.
Berger, J. (1980). About looking. New York, NY: Pantheon Books
About the Blog
Since 2013, students participating in Transformative Praxis: Malawi have been writing blog posts reflecting on their experiences of participating in action research in Malawi. The original blog with the full archive can be found here