Published: September 28th 2009September 6th 2009
Children's Day March
The school kids trail behind the principal and headmaster of the schools and a few teachers, chanting their way to school.
so sorry for missing my "friday posting." i had a bit of a rough end to my week: 3 tests in 3 days and family day at psu. i took another test this morning...little iffy on that one, but oh well. looking forward to a week of intense homework for sure. hope all is well with you. enjoy - b
8 August 2009
Not to leave you hanging on the missing “Idea Box” from the last blog, but I had to get off my tangent. And things did sort of keep down sliding from there, but redemption after a massive landslide of backwards momentum is so sweet. The original “Idea Box” was never located, I think it got lost in the shuffle of new headmasters, but a replacement is now in its place. And, once word got around that I kept checking the box for my feedback surveys, the teachers did all get theirs in. I found out from those that I should run my Word Wall Workshop over again, and I did. That one was review for all but two of the teachers, but they all seemed alright with hearing the information again. To make sure the content
School Boys Dance
It was neat to see a group of mostly younger boys dancing. The white on their foreheads is from the baby powder. The one with the brown leaf-hat is my brother, Ronald.
was implemented, I set up a “Make & Take” session with the teachers for the next afternoon. Bingo.
“Make & Take” was a great success. The teachers love getting to use cool school supplies and use a method I like to call “island lamination” to laminate their creations with clear scotch tape. Classrooms here have few things on the walls and even fewer manipulatives for the kids to learn and play with. When they all got together with cool supplies and me to answer questions, things really started to take off. What really tickled me was I happened think to bring my portable CD player for us to listen to music while working. Complete hit. The teachers loved jamming out to the latest hip-hop singles. I had to refrain my giggles when they were singing along to the repetitive lyrics of “Womanizer” by Brittany Spears.
It was a win-win situation. They got the chance to jam and use cool markers (win for them) and I felt better about my workshop content being maybe possibly actually implemented in the classroom (close enough to feel like a win for me). With that bit of internal conflict resolved, I can now
Getting the cow head ready to bake. Yum?
back track and detail the “lafettes” or celebrations of Children’s Day and Independence Day that I was before so “humbug” about.
We’re slowly realizing that “lafettes” here are all pretty predictable and the same. There is usually meat, music, sports, and lots of sitting around and watching people indulge in those three things. Children’s Day started with all the school kids gathering at the village of Betarara and marching into the school yard chanting “Papa mo Mama! Respektem mifala! Papa mo Mama! Lavem mifala! Papa mo Mama! Tijim mifala!” Child abuse is an issue in Vanuatu and often a touchy one. Even though the young country has laws that protect the kiddos, they are rarely known, acknowledged, or enforced on the outer islands. Sticky situations on many levels usually arise when someone is accused of child abuse, so it is usually left alone. Part of Children’s Day is educating everyone about children’s rights. (Yes, in that light, my previous rant about it being a made up holiday sounds downright horrible.)
As they marched into the schoolyard, there were a few teachers and parents gathered too. There were some (long winded) speeches made by a few “big big man”
Rain Rain Stay All Day!
I was not sad that it rained the whole day after. I happily did the dishes in the rain, "swam" (showered), and went back to bed.
in the community. In honor of the kids, school was cancelled for the day and they got to “plei sport” like volleyball, soccer, and basketball. A sound system was set up for string band music to play. The headmaster of the primary school also got some of the boys together to perform a custom dance. The principal of the secondary school is a man from Futuna, another island, who maximizes on the strong custom of Maewo. He always is the one who keeps the baby powder tradition going. During special ceremonies, people get “washed” with baby powder. I’m not really sure why. It is very striking against their black skin though. As the local men were dancing, the principal went through a nice large bottle of baby powder, dumping in on the necks, calves, and foreheads of those dancing. That was Children’s Day.
For Independence Day, a lot more people showed up. There were two cows killed for the two day celebration. Women from surrounding villages were asked to bake laplap and bring it to the school. These were carried down the road on contraptions made of straight-ish limbs, sort of like a stretcher. Laplaps are really heavy, so it took about four strong men to move one.
Justin’s host family took up residence at our house for those few days. Since they are about a forty minute walk away, it was easier for them to set up camp, as far as food and supplies go, at our house than to be walking back and forth all day. This, logistically, seems very reasonable. In all reality, it was exhausting. Our house sort of became the home base for what seemed like the whole village of Kaiowo. There was always someone there. In fact, two of the girls slept at our house for three nights. Something that I still cannot find a polite, just way to explain to our host country nationals is our need for privacy, down time, alone time. Any way I try to approach it sounds selfish. So, we grin and bear it. And hide chocolate in our room to snack on when we get the chance.
Justin’s mama is the queen of baking the less wanted cow parts. At some point during those days, we had the stomach, tongue, even the head go through our (outdoor) kitchen. No part of the cow was wasted. I found myself wishing I had brought my high school ag notes. Is it safe to eat a cow’s brains? And after smelling the stomach, I knew there would be no way I could even pretend to eat it. I tried to mask my disgust with curiosity, but I have always have had a very readable face. The women would just smile and say, “Yu no save kakae, eh?” (You can’t eat it, huh?). They seem to be rather accepting of “white man fashion” of having different eating habits.
A few other nuances of this day’s lafette. Someone got a hold of some red hair dye and the evidence was on all the kids of the village of Betarara. All of my siblings showed up to the lafette one day with various tones of red all the way to their scalp. Also, the island’s mechanic recently obtained an ice box that he runs with his generator and started selling “ice blocks.” For 20 vatu you can buy a plastic sleeve of frozen juice, or some even settle for just frozen water. So the kids kept busy savoring their coldness while it lasted.
Other than interesting cow parts being baked in the kitchen, red hair dye, and ice, the rest of the Independence Day lafette was just like a bigger version of Children’s Day. A huge sound system blared music all day. The sports games went on. And people sitting around the school yard in patches of shade watching it all. There was kava, rice, and beef for refreshment. Justin’s sister Edvina and I made four banana cakes to snack on those days too.
We were thankful that the next day it rained ALL DAY, which meant that after a few morning chores of laundry and sweeping, we could go back to sleep and just be alone in our house for awhile. As hermit like as it sounds, it was bliss.