Friday, August 20, 2010

Goudou Goudou

The other day in class, a seventh grader got a frightened look on his face and when I asked him what was wrong, he said, "It felt like Goudou Goudou."

Our building is right next to a busy street, and when a large truck goes by, the building feels as though it's shaking. The sound of that truck going by is exactly how the earthquake sounded when it was beginning. The sound of Goudou Goudou.

Here's an explanation of the term Goudou Goudou from the ActionAid Earthquake Blog, written by Claudine Andre:
“Goudou Goudou” (pronounced Gudu Gudu) is how the majority of Haitians refer to the catastrophic earthquake that happened on January 12th 2010.

...[A] lot of Haitians living in Port-au-Prince and its surroundings still believe that what happened on January 12 was a spiritual act. Most of them are sure that it was Satan at work; some have faith that it was prophesied, and others believe in the hypothesis that life and natural ways recycle themselves when necessary.

The percentage of the population that really trusts the scientific theory of an earthquake is comparatively low. But literate or not, rich or poor, Catholic or voodoo practitioners, all know the words “Goudou Goudou”.

For Haitians, this expression describes the sound of the earthquake. It is one of the rare connections that different social ranks have. It’s understood by everyone and gives a good imagery of what happened on the 12th. Mostly it is a very light way to refer to the earthquake and minimize the trauma after the disaster.

Before school started I was working in my classroom one day and I felt the building shake. I turned to my second grade son and asked him if he felt it. He responded, very seriously and gently, "Mom. It's because the earthquake happened before, and you're afraid it will happen again. It has to do with psychology."

We're still wary, still vigilant. Hoping it won't happen again, but aware that it could. Goudou Goudou.

1 comment:

Tricia said...

I love that comment by your son! :^) But I'm sorry that you and your students are put in that position merely by proximity.