Time sure flies! I've been here a month already and it hardly feels like it. This week was jam-packed full of experiences. We had three days in the Peace Corps office for training and that was exhausting. Each session comes with assignments. We have so many I don't even know how to keep track. I sat with my computer last night from around 7:00pm to past midnight just trying to knock some assignments out of the way so I can enjoy the weekend.
My school experience on Tuesday was… interesting, to say the least. I arrived early because they have an assembly in the mornings and they wanted to announce me to the student body. I learned that the principal would not be in; I think she's out of town. The vice principal is also the grade 6 teacher. She informed me that she would be busy with juggling both responsibilities. She left school later because she was not feeling well, which left her class to study on their own. I looked for the remedial teacher, but she was also out of her classroom. So I proceeded to sit in on a little bit of grade 2 and grade 4. Both were very normal classroom experiences. I found myself stepping out when the students were working on assignments because I was an obvious distraction. I ended up in the kindergarten classroom. During lunch I sat with a few students and just asked them a few questions. They had plenty of questions for me… what are you doing here? (well, I'm not really sure, yet, to be honest…). I learned during lunch that there was going to be a math competition between several schools in the afternoon. It was going to be held in the upstairs of our school building. After lunch, I found out that this was quite a big deal. All the teachers were involved in getting it organized. So the students were, well, free to do whatever. One way or another I ended up by myself with 30 five year old kindergarteners… attempting to keep them relatively organized, quiet, and occupied. I was not very successful. The day was, in short, chaotic… but definitely an experience. I was able to speak with the kindergarten teacher later about doing a service learning activity with the kids. She seemed up to the task. We will be doing some trash pick-up outside. So that was a good end to the day.
Thursday, I went to a center for youth that helps them get the skills they need for a career. It was an extensive program. They get everything from math, science, and English to mechanics, cosmetology, and business training. Many of the children that finish the 2-3 year program come back later to share their successes. Some have started their own businesses. I was impressed with all that they do for the youth. I sat in on their "spirituality" session… which I kinda got a kick out of. They only teach "spirituality," not "religion," but I would say we have different definitions of those words. Here "spirituality" is Christianity and "religion" is your denomination (i.e. Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist). So the lesson was all about Jesus and his disciples at the last supper and how if you take communion you must be right with God. "Spirituality," or what we would call religion, is very prominent in the culture here. Anyway, on a side note I was extremely distracted during this lesson by what turned out to be a wandering goat. I didn't know what it was at first, but it sounded like James Earl Jones had grabbed a microphone and started "baa"-ing right outside the building. It was really loud! I was expecting a large animal of some kind to meander past the door that I was intently staring out in hopes of catching a glimpse. When it walked by, however, it was a tiny little plump goat… just grazing as it inched down the road. I was stifling laugher as the teacher talked about Judas.
Today (Saturday) we had a "field trip" to the folk research center of St. Lucia. We sat for several hours with two different guys who know a lot about the history and culture of St. Lucia. It was informative and fun, although I was tired. I got some pictures of some of the various cultural items. It was good to see that the St. Lucian culture is being preserved… because it could easily get lost nowadays.