Our latest iltyem-iltyem recording workshop was in Yuelamu (May 28 – 1 June 2012). Yuelamu is a community located north east of Alice Springs and is one of the most westwards places where Anmatyerr is spoken (just up the road is the larger settlement of Yuendemu, a predominantly Warlpiri-speaking community). Yuelamu is small and quiet, with the usual shop, school and council office infrastructure, in a beautiful setting surrounded by rocky hills (http://www.centraldesert.nt.gov.au/yuelamu).
One thing we noticed at Yuelamu is the active youth program which is sponsored by CAYLUS (the Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service http://www.tangentyere.org.au/services/family_youth/caylus/). Another positive thing in this community is the senior secondary class at the Yuelamu school. Here we met a group of young people, some in years 11 and 12, who are keen to finish their high school education – a challenge in the remote community context. Their efforts are supported by an experienced and committed teaching team, consisting of a qualified teacher and a long-serving male teaching assistant. There are strong links between the youth program and the secondary program – these two programs communicate well and support each other’s efforts. One practical example of this – Dan the youth worker comes into the class once a week to learn Anmatyerr from the senior students (In fact, they have been given a deadline of 3 months to teach him Anmatyerr!)
To support these efforts, David McCormack agreed to provide a sign language learning session to Dan, to demonstrate to him some basic signs that he can use in his interactions around Yuelamu. Lily Stafford was off to the side, coaching also, making suggestions to David on which signs he should teach Dan. Thanks to David and Lily for sharing their sign language expertise and especially to Dan for being such a good sport and allowing us to showcase his learning! We look forward to seeing more signs from Dan and others in Yuelamu the next time we visit. Thanks also to Anmatyerr elders Jack Cook, Patsy Briscoe and Lily Stafford, Central Desert Shire for facilitating our visit to Yuelamu, and the school staff for their interest and support.