Autistic Superstars

If you have some time to kill, I have the feel good youtube clips for you! Welcome to the Autistic Superstars, a UK documentary in two parts about some really special young people. They have the X-Factor like you have never seen before. Each clip is approximately one hour long, so there is plenty of entertainment to go round.

After finishing high-school, I worked in a variety of institutions for children and young people with special challenges. Some were disabled, some had had a hard start on life, some both. I even finished a degree as a Social Educator.* In my late 20s, after 10 years in the job, I realised I that I could not do it any more. It was a really difficult decision to change career as a lot of dedication went into the job. And I have some really special memories from this time including a lot of laughs. Autistic Superstars reminded me just how special those years were, how meaningful and also how hard. There are some really special people out there and they are followed by another group of superstars: their parents and carers. I bow in the dust for their strength and dedication.

So grab your popcorn, bring out your box of tissues and invite your girlfriend over.

Autistic Superstars Part 1

Autistic Superstars Part 2

*In Danish it is called Socialpaedagog

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is on this weekend and it is really, really nice. We went Friday morning, because I’m shooting an archery competition this weekend in Mareeba. I’m so happy that we made it. The art on display was VERY nice. It was also very expensive, but I really enjoyed it all the same. There were some prints I fell in love with, but at $265 a piece and thinking that 3 in a row would be the ideal, that is now just a dream. They were worth the price though.

One really pleasant feature of the art fair was the entertainment. There was a constant change in the many different dance groups and music, mostly Aboriginal dancers from the region. This is the Lockhart River dance group, which we (Mr Husband and I) thought did a real good job. I personally really like that there are so many kids in the group. Passing on culture is such an important thing.

Outside the venue, all sorts of other good things were going on, like the artwork being made on the spot from ghostnets (fishing nets that fishermen somehow do not think they are responsible for and leave as trash in the ocean). I really liked the turtle as the nets are one of the major reasons for turtle death in the Torres Strait. So appropriate.

If you are in the area or know someone who is here, I highly recommend going. If you have half a shopaholic in you, bring the big wallet. If I was rich I would have bought these Items from the Torres Strait. The headgear cost app $4000; I really like the one with the crocodile tooth in the middle. The metal item I didn’t check the price for; I probably would have fainted. But have a look at the artwork made out of the white feathers. Just amazing.

No room for understating

There is no room for understating things today. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally, and I’m so pleased that it is Saturday. Pleased that no one is available for anything today and that it is snowing outside. I have every excuse in the world to stay under the covers and read. Which I will do, once I have finished writing my field notes, the 13 emails to people I now need to meet and the translated version of my research questions. I’m battling hard if I should have a nap first or just get it done.

Yesterday was a huge success. From home I had calculated the time of my interviews to be around 15 minutes. This would only be the case if I could gain trust from people and make them comfortable while answering. Otherwise my four questions can be answered in less than five minutes. I have been told, time and time again, that Greenlanders don’t talk, that it is hard to make them say anything and I have worried about this extensively.

If I had only known.

The Greenlanders I have interviewed have been open, honest and ready to share their thoughts and experiences to no end. They give every question I ask an honest go, even if they don’t quite understand what it is I am asking them (language, language, language). They are very willing to work on the answers with me by letting me rephrase the question, direct them in a different direction from the answers I get and so on. Everyone is patient and everyone is willing to participate. It is just amazing.

In short, my highest hope was to exit Ilulissat with 4-5 interviews of 10-15 minutes each. Yesterday I completed 11 interviews, the shortest was 20 minutes; the longest was 2 hours. Another three to four people have agreed to be interviewed over the phone as there was not enough time. I returned to my hotel after 10pm with an overloaded brain, completely overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and genuine effort to participate. I find grateful an inadequate word to describe how I feel, but I don’t know a better one.

One woman blew me away. I must have reached something inside her, when I presented my research two days ago, because she came prepared for the interview. After we were done, she asked me to stay seated and then stood up, did a few movements, rubbed her hands and then took both my hands into hers. In her hand was a little polished rock. While our hands met around the rock she said: “this is a little piece of Greenland for you to take with you. Keep it with you and think of us where you go.” Then she gave me two CDs with music from Greenland. She asked me to play it quietly in the background when I was writing my notes from Greenland.

I began listening to one of the CDs this morning. By song number 5 I had tears running down my cheeks. I don’t know how to upload the song from the CD, but I found another song by the same choir on youtube. Please make sure you listen for more than one minute so you can hear the harmonies.

 

There are so many stories to be told from here. I don’t know where to begin, but I can feel that this is what I am meant to do. This is my life’s project; I feel focused and guided in what I’m doing and just know that this is it. As I said, there is no room for understating things today.

 

Saturday song

I’m going to break the rule today. The Saturday song is neither from Australia or Denmark. But it is from my heart, so that must be the destination of today.

A great man died this week, much greater than I think my generation (and those younger than me) understand and appreciate. Levon Helm, the drummer from The Band, passed away 71 years old. When I read the news that he was in his final hours, I was saddened and it got me thinking about those that came before me and my generation. And what they did for us.

I was a teenager in the 80s. Everything was rejected and it was all about money. I have been fed the argument that each generation needs to reject what came before them to create their own, but I often think the 80s did more damage than was right. Because it didn’t just reject. It ridiculed and shamed, mocked and destroyed. Everything. The women’s movement. The peace movement. The solidarity. It was all about ‘me’.

Our household had different values and as a teenager that wasn’t always easy. It was not cool to care. Especially not with the passion we have a tendency to put into things in our family. In one corner of my teenage life, I was lucky to find friends with as much passion as me. Passion for music. I clearly remember dancing to this song on a warm summers night in someones parents summerhouse.This is my way of saying how truly grateful I am, for what came before me.

 

Saturday song

Good morning. Todays Saturday song streches the limit of the ‘home and away’ rule of only playing Danish and Australian songs. Technically this song is from Denmark. But I suspect that the singer would say she is not. Her name is Nive Nielsen, she is an Inuk woman from Greenland and has made quite a name for herself in Canada and the US. Most Danes are still to catch on to her amazing voice, though this little Dane listens to this song (and others) all the time. I hope you will take your time to listen to this amazing voice from the north pole. Enjoy!

Sunday song

I’ve found a real Sunday song for you. Since I’m shooting sticks into cardboard all weekend, this is my gift for you for a lazy Sunday. It is a new discovery for me, from the US (the rules of “Home and Away” only apply to the Saturday song), her name is Kelli Scarr and I’m currently in love with her voice…