I’m back in PNG for the second time. My first trip was 7 months ago. I still remember how nervous I was – I had no idea what to expect from Port Moresby. I remember how surprised I was to arrive after a 4 hour direct flight from Sydney. Papua New Guinea was so close and yet I knew so little about it. I ended up having a wonderful time in my two weeks here. I loved the people and I managed to find some great sources for my thesis.
Coming back a second time, I had a much clearer picture of what day to day life would look like. Yet like the first time I was still anxious with anticipation. I have so little control over the research I do in PNG – I can never predict what I’ll find. This trip I’m conducting oral history interviews for the first time, which involves a whole other level of unpredictability. You might know who you are interviewing, why they are important and what you would like to ask them, but once you hit record anything could happen. Yet at the same time, many historians say doing oral histories is one of the most rewarding types of research. You get to talk with live witnesses to the history you are studying – it’s a special privilege.
My goal for this trip is to come in, as much as possible, as a blank slate. To check my expectations at the door. To be ready to learn, to relax and to be lead by those around me. I want to practise resisting my perfectionist tendencies and my desire to be in control. I want to trust others and trust the process.
Since I’m here for a month, I also want to do my best to build relationships with the people I meet here. From the people I meet at church on Sundays to those I do interviews with. I want to make friendships that will continue after this month is up. I want to learn from the people here and I want to be brave enough to give something in return. Although I’m here to do PhD research, I don’t want to miss any opportunity to soak up all Port Moresby has to offer and to become linked to this place for the rest of my life. Please follow along with me here on this blog. I will be documenting my research adventures and hopefully sharing stories about my experiences and the people I meet.