Friday, August 24, 2012

The Last Week of School

This week, as the title suggests was the last week of school. Monday and Tuesday, we still taught as usual. From Wednesday onward, the teachers were marking tests and writing reports, so the rest of the week wasn’t exactly classified as “school days”. 

Near our classroom, they are building a library – a project funded by an American organisation called ‘Peacecorp’. About 30 boxes of books have been donated with many different subjects that cover all areas of life. This library is not exclusively for the school, but for the whole community of Tautu. So us, it being near to school holidays with not much school work to do, have decided that we would categorise and catalogue all the books. Alicja has been working on cataloguing all the non-fiction book while Gareth has been cataloguing all the fiction books and sorting them into children, teen, adult categories. This requires both of us to type the name and author of each book. So far, we are up to about 650 and are only about halfway. We happened to find another stash of books in the previous library today which added a lot to our workload (IF ANYONE WANTS TO COME AND HELP US, PLEASE DO!). We are hoping to have all the books sorted by the end of the holidays because our classroom is inundated with piles of boxes, books and dust.

The work of the library - the American Volunteer on the roof

Santa's helpers
The children are very excited for their new library

We also helped with some of the painting yesterday

Getting our librarian on!

Anyway, enough about tedious library work. We are planning to go to Southwest Bay this Sunday with our Japanese friend, Sho and his other friend Nao. Down South there is a very nice waterfall and so we are going to stay a few days in a nearby village. We are travelling via police escort (the police have a regular boat to and from the village and we know a local policeman who gave us the opportunity). Next week we are looking forward to a double island wedding and are very excited for the visit from our parents and two others from Hervey Bay Uniting Church.

Not much more to add today, we’ll blog again in a few weeks when we get to Lakatoro again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Some Photos

Nothing much has happened in the last week however, here are some photos!

Independence Day stage

Our act: Singing with the young adults of the church

The big feast next day - lots of rice, a whole drum full!

Hiking up to the towers

TVL (phone company) tower

View from the top of the hill where the towers were

Going to the garden where the locals get their food from. Alicja planted a banana tree amongst other things

Last wednesday was a public holiday and we travelled to Walarano, a town about 40 mins on the back of a 4wd. This here was the catholic church that we went to.

After the service, we took a look at the view, left island is Wala, the right island is Rano.
Gareth teaching

Alicja helping two children learn letters of the alphabet.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Blackman Time'

By this title, we are not being racist - a few of the locals have told us this term. It has been a while since we last blogged. The week before last we didn’t make a blog, and the last week the internet was not working.

A few things have happened in that time starting with the Independence Day celebrations. It was really interesting to see the community get together and create a celebration. It started off with a prayer and some talks in the evening of Sunday the 29th of August. The locals said it started at 4pm. So we headed there at….4pm. It was raining and they were still setting up and doing some sound checks. Another 3 hours later, it started. While we were waiting they told us “Blackman time”. The night had a few skits and songs and we sung with the youth on stage. One of the youth had given Alicja an island dress which she wore when singing. The 30th was marked with the national anthem and flag raising as well as a lengthy prime minister’s speech (spoken on behalf of him by a local counselor). Then it was lunch time and we had plenty rice with beef and cabbage – either of us only eat that much at Christmas! The time after lunch was devoted to sports and the woman played volleyball, and the men and boys played football (soccer). That night was the same as the previous night with more skits and songs.

The next day was a school day, but only about half the school actually came to school as the Independence Day celebration was not just over…yet. For some reason they organized more celebrations on a school day and so after lunch, no one came back to school as there was no point. Teachers included. Finally, on Wednesday, we continued our school work. Alicja was assessing the children’s skills in fine motor skills, letter and number recognition, colours and shapes. In the students that are struggling, Alicja is finding that they have never learned letter names and how to form them properly, and so in grade 2, there are some students there that are eleven years old and are just copying information off the blackboard without actually knowing what they are writing! Gareth started teaching some of the classes as well as having sessions with the students that are struggling. The school doesn’t follow a formal curriculum and so all the teachers teach differently. For English, they have units of work based on topics in English such as “Missionaries”. The main problem according to the headmaster is that students are getting lost learning the fundamentals of English since the text books seem to jump from topic to topic quickly and do not focus enough on how to write and speak in English.

On some weekends we have spent some time with some friends. We went to lunch with a friend from church and then went to the beach after. Last Saturday we caught a 4wd and went to Lakatoro and bought some Gateaux (our French spelling is not too good) – a figure of 8 pastry as well as some bread for lunch and we climbed up to two communication towers. One was the TVL phone network repeater station, and the other was a government tower. Some very nice views up there, and our friends did the whole thing in thongs! This week, we have been working at the school and had a look at Kids Prayer Warriors – a prayer ministry of which lots of kids are involved in. We also have looked at one family’s garden where they grow taro, yam (both root vegetables) and cabbage. Nothing much else to report on really.

Below are some photos from the last few weeks.

Some of the local children - they LOVE photos!

Sharing laplap, the 'cake' of Vanuatu - made with grated yam and coconut milk and cooked on a fire with hot rocks