Written Words – Impact

I’ve been here for a day and a half out of my expected month. I’ve barely begun to dip my feet into the vast sea of culture and expectation that washes around me. But I may have left a trace, a faint trail acknowledging that I’ve been here.

We were sitting around, the group of us taking a phlebotomy course, and throughout the day, in between lessons and informal teaching about language and culture, several of the men and women in my class asked to see my earrings. They’re a set of the bottle cap earrings Mom and I made last year, my favorite pair, the ones with the tiny beach scenes on them. After yet another person looked at the tiny scene and handed them back, the parasitologist for our study suggested, “You could paint Yolngu [the name of the local Aboriginal group] designs on shells like this,” and everyone nodded approvingly. Up until now, painting and jewelry have always been separate in the designs I’ve seen.

If tiny little Yolngu story paintings or designs start showing up on shells, I’m totally taking credit for inspiring a cultural phenomenon.


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