The first 2015 Green warrior PDC in Tagatay, Philippines went extremely well. It was my first time teaching Filipino and Taiwanese trainees together. I thought we may have some communication problems but actually they worked it out for themselves quite early on in the course. One Filipino guy came to me after the second day and told me how he was amazed he could communicate to one of the Chinese guys through basketball. It seems that on the course no matter what the language of the player, the language of action was the same.
When doing the hands-on field work, communication is the same too. Quickly, the trainees of both races worked out a series of field signals, and soon we had mixed teams collaborating and getting great results on their projects. Together they built gardens, composted farm waste, planted trees, planted vegetables, dug swales, constructed some A-frames, designed permaculture systems and a million other permaculture actions. Co-creation bonds people of all races.
Each day Koala, our indestructible Taiwanese interpreter, would translate for us as we went through revision and then off to the field to do the next learning tasks. I call him indestructible because we ended up with only one interpreter which usually spells disaster as they tend to burn out if you work them too hard. Between my Australian English, Taiwanese Chinglish, Hong Kong Chinglish and Filipino English, Koala deserved a medal
Actually there were 3 language groups on the course if you count Chinglish. It took me a couple of days to realize some of the students were speaking Chinglish to me, not Chinese. Imagine learning English from somebody that has never met a fluent English speaker. In fact their teacher was probably the same! I’m told Chinglish speakers in China outnumber English speakers in the world. That could be right as many different Asian people use Chinglish to communicate. The funny thing is after a while I found myself thinking in Chinglish! (Horee Sheet!)
On the last night of the course we did the usual handing out of certificates and the photo of me, the trainer, and them getting a certificate and a handshake. I always give a huge cheesy grin for each photo as my PDC trademark. Sometimes people take these certificates too seriously. I tell the students that the real certificate is your garden or real time project where you are actually doing something with the skills they have learned. There are lots of morons out there in the world with certificates trying to prove they are not a moron I’ve found. Results speak louder than certificates.
Once the presentations were over we had the obligatory student entertainment with different groups of trainees putting on skits or singing. We even had a mixed race song “we are the world”. Yep, it was very cheesy but fun.
The following day I held a meeting with the batch of brand new Green Warriors out in the outdoor classroom under a shady mango tree overlooking the farm. It was a moving experience as each student said some brief words about how the course changed them and what action they would take in their lives to become a true Green Warrior. Green Warriors are measured by their actions. I kind of felt sorry for most of them as I know when they get home the world will seem different. They will now see the problems of the world and begin trying to solve them. Their lives will never be the same again!
It’s time for the final goodbyes with people hugging and some holding back tears as they wave as each vehicle leaves. The last of the Taiwanese pile into the Jeep somehow waving and taking photos at the same time. As the vehicle leaves the front gate, I see an arm emerge from the passenger window. A fist pumps the air and I hear a loud shout, “GWEEN WOWWIER!” You gotta love those Taiwanese warriors!