New missionaries: savages among the civilized

Dournes describes his first day among the Jarai:

Though only for a night, a house was open to me. I climbed the steps; my luggage was brought in. And there I was like a savage among the civilized; I spoke not one word of the Jarai dialect, I knew no one, and no one spoke my language. (14)

Though I know a little (precious little) Khmer, and bit more Jarai, what Dournes describes will be our experience soon enough, first in Phnom Penh, then in Ratanakiri. To change the metaphor, we’ll be toddlers among grownups, pointing and mispronouncing our few words. But learning.

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