This semester’s subject at Moore is Christian Communication and Mission. It’s been pretty neat so far, a bit of cultural studies, a bit of Anthropology 101 (Community, anyone?), a bit of missiology. Our assessment is to spend time with a community from another culture and get to know their worldview. If I can be completely honest I feel like the task is way too big and complex to be addressed in the timeframe and word count given for this assessment. But I guess that is what undergrad degrees are all about, right? And nevertheless I am having a fun time working on it!
Thanks to the generosity of my supervisor and boss (and organisation! I love you Anglicare!) I have been allowed to take Friday mornings off as study leave for the last few weeks to do some fieldwork. The community I have chosen to spend time with is the mothers and children group run at our church (MOCHA), which is predominantly attended by Indian and Bangladeshi women who don’t actually come to any other church services or outreach events. Basically there’s a large group of recently arrived Hindu mothers regularly meeting in my church building. All I had to do was think of a reason to be there (a helping hand for the team and informal English conversation practice) and get time off work (thanks again, Anglicare!) and I was set.
It hasn’t worked out exactly as planned. I knew it would be hard to have deep conversations with people from another culture even within that generous study leave period, but it has been even harder than I thought. Not many of the women have been keen to open up. I have had heaps of great conversations with one of the dads who comes along. He used to work in a cultural institute in Bangalore – but I don’t think that sneaking references to Indian sociologists actually counts as observational fieldwork! Oh well. I have one more week to go, and then I might need to think about other creative ways of supplementing my fieldwork.
Despite this I’ve still had a great time and I’m sad that it’s finishing so soon. It’s been wonderful to be regularly seeing my church-mum-friends, who I don’t get to see very often. I also feel like I have actually made friends with a couple of the non-church-mums and it’s sad to think I’ll probably never see them again. I’ve loved singing the songs, doing the actions, calming the babies (and giving them back to mum when they don’t stop crying), completing puzzles, pulling faces and then going into work with texta all over my hands. And I love what Fridays are at the moment. I’ve got to walk to church each week (it takes 45 minutes but it’s so worth it!), be out in the sunshine and see Ashfield in its midday glory. Seeing Ashfield at noon on a Friday is a cross-cultural experience in itself. There are too many stay-at-home mums, retirees, shift workers and Department of Housing employees to count! I never see these people when I am running for the train in peak hour.