Saturday, April 03, 2004

Report: Day 31 

Nauru is the world's smallest independent republic with a total area of 21 square kilometers which is about 0.1 times the area of the city of Washington D.C. Nauru is an island composed almost entirely of bird poop which meant that it was very rich in phosphates, however the phosphate mines have been almost entirely exhausted which is threatening to leave the island destitute. Additionally, it is entirely conceivable that in the very near future, Nauru will cease to exist as the area of the island is being consumed by sea, which is rising a few inches per year in response to the melting polar ice caps.

Now, my Benrick assignment is to write a postcard to the President of Nauru, who Benrick sites as "Bernard Dowiyogi." I am supposed to advise Dowiyogi that even though his nation is often overlooked, I am remembering Nauru today! However, my research indicates that Bernard Dowiyogi has never been president of Nauru, while a Bernard Dowiyogo, who looks suspiciously like the photograph in Benrick, was President intermittently from 1976 to 2003. Dowiyogo died in office in October 2003 and to give you an idea about how contentious politics are on Nauru, there have been three presidents since. It will do me no good to write to a former head of state who is dead, so I have altered the task slightly to account for current events.

I transcribe for you here a copy of the letter I posted this morning to the current President of Nauru, Rene Harris.

President Rene Harris
C/O Ministry of Works
Yaren District

April 2, 2004

Dear Mr. President,

Hello, and greetings from the United States of America! I am writing you today in an expression of friendship and support. I note from recent news items that Nauru is facing tough economic times and that's something I know a little bit about as I have been a victim of the Hateful Bush Economy TM in my own country. I hope you get everything straightened out without having to cede any administrative control to Australia. I am rooting for you and I am rooting for Nauru!

It was my hope to include in my letter a sentence or two in Nauruan. You know, out of respect for global diversity and all. But I have been unable to locate any aids in translation between English and Nauruan. I suspect, given the fact that Nauruan is a language distinct to the smallest independent republic in the world, that there is simply very little demand for translation services. Yet, here in America we have something called the World Wide Web which has a great number of resources like Babelfish which (admittedly gracelessly) translates small portions of text back and forth between various languages. You know, like between French and German, or English and Japanese, or Swedish and Italian. Like that.

Now, I knew I wouldn't be able to just walk down to the local community college and be all "doo doo doo. Please enroll me in Nauruan 101 and show me the way to the bookstore so I can get an English/Nauruan dictionary!" But still I thought it would be easier than it is. So, maybe, as president of Nauru you could sponsor some kind of "Get Nauruan on Babelfish!" campaign. You could raise money and awareness through bake sales and whatnot. Just something to think about if you have the world wide web in Nauru. I don't know how world wide it actually is.

In the mean time will you please tell me the Nauruan word for "midget?" I know you're busy trying to keep your country's economy afloat, so just when ever you get a chance. Or maybe you could have an aide do it. I wouldn't mind if it gets delegated. The best leaders know how to delegate, at least that's what they say. I've never led my own nation, though some day if I work very hard I might be able to. Keep your fingers crossed for my eventual rise to power.

Anyway, I'd better scoot. Write me back.

Thinking Happy Thoughts About Nauru,
Brian Blaho

Tonight I will attempt to control my dreams.

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