Akha - the Written Language
An interesting change is occurring among the Akha as the younger generation is learning how to read and write the Akha language. While we were in the city last weekend our old pastor and housemate was up in Mae Salong. Now, whenever someone visits our village they usually sleep in our house (which is really the village's home), we are then told dozens of times by various neighbors all about who stayed in our house while we were away.
This last time, however, the pastor left us a note (in Akha) on our door. Everyone in the village saw him do it, but just didn't understand what he was doing. When we came back to the village one of the little girls and one of our Akha grandmas, who we affectionately call Mrs. Santa Claus, took us to the note and said "The pastor did this".
We then proceeded to read (out loud) what the note said: "Paul and Lori, I came and stayed at your home, slept on your mats, ate your rice and food, and drank your tea. Thank you very much, God bless you."
They really enjoyed hearing us read this message in Akha, and insisted that we do it multiple times - and we were happy that we understood the whole message so we were glad to read it over and over again. They were especially tickled to hear this message passed over time and distance in this fashion and in their language. It certainly did not replace the oral tradition of passing news (everyone in our village still told us about the pastor coming to visit), but added to the story by sharing about how a 'written conversation' was left on our door.