Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Books and the Classroom

The library space at the new school where I work is nice compared to most I've seen here. The fact that the school has a "library" is nice… period. The kids are used to using the space, so having a white lady there just draws even more of them in. I even had to keep them away from the books for a while in order to get the catalogue system going. I have finished most of the books now, though, and they are shelved and ready for use.

Last week during lunch I could tell there were a lot of kids waiting to use the books. So I gobbled down my food and returned to the library to keep it open for them. Most of them came rushing in and then just stood around looking at me as I sorted through books. So I asked them, "Would you like to read a book?" They shyly nodded their heads. I showed them where they could pick out a book and where they should put it when they were done. About 8 kids gathered around a table looking through and reading books. I pretended to "work" but I was having so much fun watching them, and I was keeping my eye out to make sure they were keeping things in order. One little one was picking out books left and right. He finally found one about Jesus and promptly looked at me and shouted, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!!" running to the table to open his book. He returned to the same spot 2 more times to pick out more stories about Jesus. I chuckled to myself thinking, "whatever gets you excited about reading, buddy…" When the bell rang for class to resume the disappointment was clearly written on their faces, but they dutifully put their books on the "to be shelved" pile and ran off to class. I watched them go and then turned to the heap of books that had gathered over lunch period, but I was happy to shelve them.

Seeing excitement about books and reading here is so thrilling. This is just the beginning of my library and reading club adventures at this new school. I really hope that I can give them a permanent hunger for books in my time here… that would be my idea of sustainability…


This week I start Kweyol classes again. Kweyol or Creole or Patois is the local language. Everyone speaks English, but they also speak Patois (Patwah) and I hear it all the time. We learned a little bit over a year ago in training, but it was really the least of my concerns then. The Ministry of Education is offering the class and we have Peace Corps Volunteers, Japanese Volunteers, and Locals participating. I'm hoping to learn enough to be able to understand the basics of what I hear around me… and honestly, I am really enjoying being in a classroom again! It's surprising, but I am enjoying engaging my mind in learning new things and having homework assignments! The class is being held at a primary school in town, so we sit in these tiny handmade wooden desks, look on as our teacher scribbles all over a chalkboard, and try our best to ignore the loud noises carrying in through the vented walls. It's interesting to experience this Lucian classroom… I don't know how the kids focus here!


Only 17 days until Mom, Dad, and Tim arrive!! I already have a schedule written out and have been making preparations! I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sunset Cruise on the Unicorn

Mid-Service Training

The Cashew and the Calabash Bowls

Hiking and Camping

Canaries Waterfall

Nana and Papa Visit St. Lucia

Celebrating 1 Year!

Painting a Giant Chess Board

Visiting a US Navy Ship

EC 81 swears in!

My first passover by myself!

The Highlights of My LONG Break in Updates!

It has been so long since my last update that I have to look through my pictures to see what I have not told you!! I'll try to hit the high points; there have been a lot of high points in the last few months!

The number one high point is a change in work site! After one year at the Red Cross, things were just not as successful as one would hope. So Peace Corps transferred me to two primary schools: my first school attachment and a new school attachment. This change was so exciting and I love it so much. I work primarily on their libraries. I am helping to create a catalog and check-out system to encourage the use of the books and reading among the kids. I will also be helping out with the chess programs at both schools when I can. Life skills lessons continue at my first school. At my new school we hope to start a reading club soon. It is so enjoyable and I feel more in my element, which is a huge relief. It gives me a lot to look forward to in this second year.

Another great highlight is my grandparents' visit! My Nana and Papa booked a cruise around the Eastern Caribbean islands and one stop was St. Lucia! We spent one whole day together and I got to show them around. First I took them to my primary school attachment. Earlier in the year my grandparents donated chess materials to the school and I wanted them to meet the chess club. The whole school came out to express thanks. They presented Nana and Papa with a wonderful photo of the kids playing on their new chess sets and they sang some songs. It was exciting and really fun for them to see the meaningfulness of their donation. Next I took them to my apartment to show them where I live. Then we went to a resort, The Windjammer, for lunch on the beachfront. Another volunteer joined us and we spent the afternoon catching up and playing games. After that they were pretty tired so I took them back to the cruise ship and waved goodbye. It was so good to see them and so great to be able to show them a bit of my life here. It is special to share this experience with the ones I love so much!

Now that I have free weekends I have been more active with the hiking group. In one of our recent trips we went to the Canaries Waterfall, which was a gorgeous and wonderfully cool place to swim… and feed fish. I got to climb around and be outdoorsy river girl for a day! J After the waterfall we went down to a beach called Anse Koshon. We snorkeled and played games in the water. My face was sore from laughing and smiling, which is always a good sign! The weekend after that I went camping with the group. We stayed near that same beach, Anse Koshon. We hiked to a "cave" that was actually just a big hole under a rock. We did some more snorkeling and hung out by the beach a lot. We also introduced the Lucians to s'mores! We were missing graham crackers so we used ordinary crackers, but they were delicious and the Lucians loved it. I think that is the first time I've been camping in over a year and a half. It was nice… and buggy. We were all sleeping around mango trees so we kept periodically hearing mangos fall and roll down the hill. Some hit our tarp. When I packed up my stuff at the end of the camp I realized I'd been sleeping on a squished mango. They were everywhere. The other volunteers and I also got to experience making Calabash bowls. Calabash is the national fruit (though you can't eat it). It has a hard shell and you can clean it out to make bowls and carve designs in the outside. We did this while snacking on coconut. J

Last week was MST (Mid-Service Training). The other volunteers from Granada and Dominica got to fly in and we all stayed in a hotel for 4 days (3 nights). We THOROUGHLY enjoyed the air conditioning and comfy beds… and the pool. During the training sessions we reflected on the past year and realized how far we have come. It's so easy to feel like we aren't getting anywhere, but when we look back and think about the little things we really have done so much. We also got to hear what other volunteers are doing and pull ideas from each other, which will be really useful in our future projects. There were a few other business sessions, but most of all we came away feeling heard, encouraged, and re-energized. It was good to see everyone, have some time to hang out, and take a break from our routines.

After MST, a few of us took a ride on the Unicorn, a ship that was used in the filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We scored a good deal for a 2-hour sunset cruise so we splurged and went. It included drinks and snacks and you can bet us PCVs devoured those snacks. It was cloudy so the sunset wasn't brilliant orange, but it was beautiful nonetheless. The cruise itself was relaxing and fun.

And now it's back to real life again! I'm back at work. We have just over a month left in the school year. My parents and brother are coming in just about 30 days! I need to get scuba certified! I'm having fun and loving life, which is a lot to say and a relief to feel. I have so much to look forward to. And I hope I can do a better job of keeping you all posted!

Much love! As always, I love to hear from you!