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Kendall, Reginald.

Winnipeg, Queenston House, 1986. 285pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-920273-08-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 15 Number 5
1987 September

This is an account of the two-year posting of the author and his wife to Papua New Guinea. Their varied experiences ranged from the merely unusual to the positively bizarre, and their book allows the stay-at-home reader, like myself, to share the many interesting incidents without the inconvenience and hardships entailed. The narrative reveals a great degree of culture shock. This is to be found not only in terms of technology, but more profoundly in the differences in social attitudes between the native people and the sojourners. The implicit message is quite clear; it is that changes can only be introduced gradually to a relatively primitive society and must attach sufficient importance to the values and nature of the indigenous people.

A brief introduction summarizes the history, geography, flora, and fauna of Papua New Guinea. The ensuing narrative describes incidents experienced first-hand by the author and his wife. These incidents were concerned primarily with the relationship between the Kendalls and the local people they worked with. It is these personal encounters which comprise the chief strength of the book. The native people are shown to have feelings which are different in many respects from those of Canadians and yet remain very human and indeed admirable in many respects.

Mr. Kendall writes in a well-organized manner with each incident described being complete in itself as well as forming part of a well-rounded whole. The illustrations are helpful although in a somewhat drab black and white: the glossary of pidgin English terms is helpful while reading. This insightful book can be recommended not only as an introduction to an interesting society, but also as a primer, indeed a warning, to those considering voluntary work overseas.

John D. Crawford, Blanshard School, Victoria, B.C.
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