Preface by the teacher
These pages on Oceania are the results of a year-long project carried out by one of my English classes in 1996-7 at a private language school in Zarautz, the Basque Country, called Éire Language and Information Services. It was an advanced adult class in English as a Foreign Language, and I took the slightly experimental approach of concentrating throughout the course on a non-linguistic objective: everybody in the class agreed to read about and research into a chosen topic within a given subject area, and report back to the rest of us, orally at first, on what they had found out.
The subject area was the part of the world known as Oceania. This is a vast but little-known-about area far from the Basque Country which was totally exotic and unknown to the members of the class when we started.
We read a variety of materials including travelogues, encyclopaedias, books, articles and internet pages, looked at maps and pictures, listened to tapes, and discussed various aspects of the subject in class, as well as negotiating how to proceed with the project, which was initially intended to last a month or two but ended up taking first a whole term, and then the whole year after we decided to rework the initial results into a web page of our own which we now offer to you.
I will be enriching the material here by adding related links of interest, some of which provided sources of information given here. Apart from the links and elsewhere when indicated, these pages are the entirely the students' product. Imanol, the "token male" among the students, joined the class late, and given that he has experience in journalism we nominated him General Editor. They also have put together a class page if you want to read about all of us. (Sorry, I couldn't get them to include photographs! Basques are kind of shy people....)
I think creating this page has been a useful and exciting experience for all of us, and we hope some of you out there in the rest of cyberworld enjoy looking at the fruits of our effort. You are welcome to contact us via the teacher, Alan King. And now, without further ado, over to Imanol.
Oceania is far away from us. In fact, there is nowhere further from us than Oceania. We can dig a hole at home and, if we keep on going down the hole, eventually we arrive in Oceania, our antipodes. In Aotearoa (New Zealand), to be precise. To get there, we need to travel for 36 hours, stopping three times. Very far indeed.
So, you will wonder what the hell made us decide to work on Oceania. We will give you three possible reasons. Guess which is right:
1) Éire School is going to pay for a trip for us to Fiji and we need information to organise it.
2) We Basques have very close cultural links with the Solomon Islanders, and we want to research them.
3) Our teacher decided we had to do it.
Whatever reason made us study Oceania, we have lots of information about this area of the world. In our pages you will find up-to-date information on all Oceania, especially the Fiji Islands, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, French Polynesia and Hawai'i.
Reading through our pages you will also notice we don't mention Australia. Some people think Australia is part of Oceania. It was, but is no longer. We decided.