PNG Lessons: Introduction

Daughter Looking Over Village

Lately I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons I learned during my formative years living in the country of Papua New Guinea. Through no merit of my own, I have been blessed with a wealth of lived experiences. However, when we returned to the USA it felt like everyone just wanted me to be American again. They didn’t want to have to wrestle with a new story (and hard truth) every time I opened my mouth! It’s uncomfortable to listen to someone else’s foreign experiences; we generally want to connect over shared experiences instead. That’s why we roll our eyes when someone won’t stop talking about their recent international vacation! I had a lot to say, but it felt wise to learn to shut up.

Now, over four years later, I believe the time has come for me to be more open about the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve lived. These stories are incredible blessings, and I don’t want to hoard them. For now, I’m just going to share a little bit every day or two through social media posts as a way to process my reflections and share them with you. I invite your participation! Social media is a wicked place full of hate and lies these days, so maybe this experiment will prove to be a breath of fresh air for many of you.

Now, over four years later, I believe the time has come for me to be more open about the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve lived.

Finally, let me express one warning. Many of the things I’ve experienced are confusing and personal. When I write about them, I’m not going to work to fit them into paradigms you can all understand. I’ll be talking about wealth, safety, race, gender roles, education, integrated identities, globalism, and privilege, among other things—but often from a vantage point you may not recognize. You may want to argue with me at times, thinking that I am using my story as bait for some current political talking point. I am not doing this. That is not, and never has been, my agenda. Those of you who know me personally will recognize this. These lessons were learned through experiences in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea. Sometimes, you’ll see poignant pictures and reflections where I have no concrete lesson to extract. Perhaps it will cause you to see something I haven’t. Please share that with me!

I’ll be talking about wealth, safety, race, gender roles, education, integrated identities, globalism, and privilege, among other things—but often from a vantage point you may not recognize.


PNG Lesson Series

© 2022 Refugee Language Project. All rights reserved.