Surviving Paradise: One Year On A Disappearing Island

Surviving Paradise: One Year On A Disappearing Island

3.8 7
by Peter Rudiak-Gould
     
 

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just one month after his 21st birthday, peter rudiak-gould moved to ujae, a remote atoll in the marshall islands located 70 miles from the nearest telephone, car, store, or tourist, and 2,000 miles from the closest continent. he spent the next year there, living among its 450 inhabitants and teaching english to its schoolchildren.

surviving paradise is a

Overview

just one month after his 21st birthday, peter rudiak-gould moved to ujae, a remote atoll in the marshall islands located 70 miles from the nearest telephone, car, store, or tourist, and 2,000 miles from the closest continent. he spent the next year there, living among its 450 inhabitants and teaching english to its schoolchildren.

surviving paradise is a thoughtful and laugh-out-loud hilarious documentation of rudiak-gould’s efforts to cope with daily life on ujae as his idealistic expectations of a tropical paradise confront harsh reality. but rudiak-gould goes beyond the personal, interweaving his own story with fascinating political, linguistic, and ecological digressions about the marshall islands. most poignant are his observations of the noticeable effect of global warming on these tiny, low-lying islands and the threat rising water levels pose to their already precarious existence.

an eat, pray, love as written by paul theroux, surviving paradise is a disarmingly lighthearted narrative with a substantive emotional undercurrent.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940044379008
Publisher:
Peter Rudiak-Gould
Publication date:
03/14/2013
Sold by:
Smashwords
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
693,648
File size:
287 KB

Meet the Author

Born and raised in the Bay Area, California, Peter Rudiak-Gould is an anthropologist and currently a fellow at McGill University, Montreal. He earned his doctorate in Anthropology at Oxford University for research on public perceptions of climate change in the Marshall Islands. Since his first stint in the Marshall Islands as a volunteer teacher on a rural outer island, he has returned three times for anthropological fieldwork. He is the author of a Marshallese language textbook and an ethnography, Climate Change and Tradition in a Small Island State: The Rising Tide (Routledge, 2013). Learn more at www.peterrg.com.

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Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful account about the author's time spent teaching English in the Marshall Islands. The author's experiences are heartfelt and humorous. The insights into Marshallese culture are fascinating.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Peter Rudiak-Gould is twenty one years old, fresh from teacher's college, when he decides to be a volunteer English teacher for a year on Ujae. Ujae is part of the Marshall Islands - a very tiny part - 1/3 of a square mile to be exact. And the school - officially one of the worst in the Pacific. "...an idea that there was a place so far from everything, so tiny and little known, where men still fished with spears and women still healed with jungle medicine. It was a place unknown and therefore, maybe, perfect...I wanted Ujae to be my far-off paradise." When Peter steps foot on the atoll, his dream collides with reality. He is not greeted with a welcoming committee as he had imagined. As he settles in for his first night with his host family - "I considered my situation. I was already lonely to the point of physical pain. I had been ignored and welcomed, avoided and stared at, indulged and deprived. All I had learned was that I knew nothing." I think I really enjoyed this book because of Rudiak-Gould's complete honesty in writing it. Having exposed his naivete in the first two chapters he goes on to candidly document both his observations, feelings and emotions for the remainder of his year. (Yes he lasts the entire year!) Marshallese society is much different than the North American version Peter grew up with. Children are pretty much on their own from age 4 on. Schooling is not given great importance - this is quite frustrating to Peter. Interaction between child and parent is limited. Indeed, Peter is the only adult who plays with the children. Elders are revered. Peter is being treated well by the Ujae people, but because it differs from his North American expectations, it takes him a bit to figure out the social nuances of social interaction. "Living in another country had finally made me realize how much I was a product of my own country." He perseveres and participates in fishing expeditions, festivals, makes friends and learns to speak and write the Marshallese language. (He has since written a Marshallese language textbook) As for the subtitle? Ujae atoll is in danger of being swamped by the raising ocean levels. Indeed global warming is a threat to much of the Marshall Islands. Rudiak-Gould is currently working on his doctoral thesis, studying indigenous reactions to the threat of climate change. Surviving Paradise is by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, educational, but above all eye opening. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir!
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
When Peter Rudiak-Gould decamps to Ujae Island, of the Marshall Islands, South Pacific, to teach English for a year he learns the limits and the bounties of residing on a remote island "paradise." According to the author, Ujae is a third of a square mile in size and populated by approximately 450 citizens. In Surviving Paradise Rudiak-Gould summarizes the book as: "My portrait of one Marshall Island at the turn of the twenty-first century, and how it felt to live alone in this alien culture on a remote speck of land at a rather tender age - how it was just like a rocky first romance, complete with infatuation and disillusionment." Still later Rudiak-Gould confesses, "I wanted Ujae to be my far-off paradise. Ujae wanted me to be its English teacher. So we married and we met, in that order." It soon becomes clear to the author that Ujae is no Fantasy Island. While the author notes that he found great pleasure in "the unrushed friendliness, the fishing and chatting and lore, but many of the values and practices . . . [upset him] with unrelenting intensity. The pains of children, always and everywhere seen, but never addressed; the school's black hole of apathy; the tacit neglect of what appeared to [be] . . . obvious and fixable problems . . . ." Surviving Paradise is a thoughtful account of a Westerner living the reality of life on a remote tropical island. Publisher: Union Square Press; 1 edition (November 3, 2009), 256 pages. Advance Review Copy Provided Courtesy of the Publisher.
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