Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Foreigners and Natives

Tales of the Tikongs Response

“’But you must remember that in dealing with foreigners, never appear too smart; its better that you look humble and half-primitive, especially while you’re learning the ropes. And try to take off six stone. It’s necessary that we be seen to be starved and needy. The reason why Tiko gets very little aid money is that our people are too fat and jolly.’” (Hau’Ofa 87).

            In Tale of the Tikongs, the natives receive little aid in the way of development despite the drive for it. These various anecdotes illustrate the natives experience with religion and work. The reader is transported into an unfamiliar territory through these various stories.  In some ways, the reader is like the traveler in a new land, encountering different people briefly and only given a short story.
            As I read, I couldn’t help but think of myself like a foreigner in my classroom. Each day, I am greeted by new experiences. To my students, I am a foreigner in their land (their classroom). In the classroom, my students are natives and I become the tourist. In some ways, my relationship with my students can be seen like a foreign aid service attempting to intervene in native’s life. Although my intentions might be slightly different than a typical foreign aid service, the comparison remains. My students originally viewed me as a stranger in their land, intruding on their territory.
            The quote above sets up a relationship between visitor and native that implies the native requires something from the visitor, however dishonest that need might actually be. Thinking of my own students, I wonder if as a teacher I seek out the students who appear to need the most help and whether or not that is effective. Does the relationship between native and foreigner imply a need? In my classroom, I am the foreigner, although I think the relationship between foreigner and visitor is more than need-based on one end. For instance, there is not always an intentional deceit implied in interactions between the two, but there does tend to be. In the same way that readers make judgments about the brief encounters we have with characters inTales of the Tikongs, visitors make these judgments about natives. There exists a dichotomy between the visitor and foreigner though, where both parties involved only get a skewed view.
            Both Hau’Ofa and King makes claims about social awareness, they do it different ways. Hau’Ofa illustrates the absurdity of some cultures while highlighting the differences the Tikongs have. King advocates for social change with bold claims like “oppressed people cannot stay oppressed forever”. By showing the way people can oppress others and various social injustices, Hau’Ofa lets the reader make her own judgments or plans on how to change this, however King calls for change immediately.
            The original quote then remains relevant. When in need of help or change, is it necessary to appear weaker than one actually is? Is the best way to get help to deceive? Both Hau’Ofa and King respond differently to this call for help. ​

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