Edit Blog Post
Published: March 20th 2010
Clouds, river, and horses
(Yes, I got kind of carried away taking pictures of this area...)
From this title, some might think I'm going to refer to some Jamaican incident that occurred while here, like some misrecognition of Patois (which everyone here speaks and all of us can barely understand, if at all--for more info on Jamaican Patois, visit here
). Indeed, I'm not. You just get two for one, today, friends--I failed to write in my journal on March 9, so lucky you, you get to have the low-down on two days in one awesome blog entry. (Can you tell the semester's almost over here?)
Notes from yesterday:
*Went to school again and did construction work all day. We didn't think they'd have the supplies for us, but somehow they managed it, so we worked with a bunch of upper-level students to make a sidewalk that evidently they needed (particularly during the rainy season. I talked with some teachers and kids about Jamaican/American lives/school systems, and enjoyed the exchange.
*I should probably take a moment to explain some more about the Jamaican school system as we experienced it, but noting, of course, that I don't know much. (We did have a speaker in the evening a few nights ago, though, who gave us
The almost-finished product
This is about the only picture I have of the sidewalk, and it definitely does not indicate the amount of work that went into it. Oh, well.
plenty of details about how schooling in Jamaica works.) The school is overpopulated, so they have to split the school day up into two shifts. There are six grades for the high school (I guess they don't really have a middle school system), and the first three grades attend school from 7:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and the latter three grades attend from 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Thus, there is a changing of the guards daily at 12:00 p.m., including a number of the teachers as well as, of course, the students. Once students finish what's called 5th form (the 5th grade of high school), they have the option of going onto 6th form, which is a step potentially toward college as well as potentially toward some kind of professional degree. Additionally, high schools are not necessarily determined by districts (ie, where you live). In fact, you take a test you last year of primary school (which would be like our 6th grade, I think), and that determines which school you go to (thus, they have schools split up based on achievement). This, of course, then, is a very important test. Like most countries, education is not the best funded area by the
government, yet Jamaican society, from what I saw, seems to place an emphasis on the importance of education, which is free to all (at least through the high school levels, I believe). However, there didn't appear to be mandatory attendance policies, and, at least at Petersfield High, if a teacher was absent, they didn't really seem to have a substituting system, and students would just not have class (this, in fact, is kind of similar to Korea, where there aren't really substitute teachers, unless it's for a long-term absence). Additionally, at least at this high school, there were kind of structural problems with the buildings, in my opinion--not that they were poorly built, but poorly designed. The buildings were largely concrete and metal with little to no soundproofing, so while I observed classes, it was impossible to drown out what was going on next door or outside, etc. I was impressed with the teachers able to maintain their students' attention anyway, but they weren't the best working/learning conditions. Still, we were told that the education system in Jamaica is quite rigorous, and when students go abroad, they tend to outperform many of their fellow students and colleagues academically.
and all the mixing of concrete (it was intense, and hot), I took a long nap and was awakened to dinner, which was boiled chicken, mashed potatoes, white yams, veggies, and, most importantly, ICE CREAM!
*After dinner, we all met up at the AOC (in fact, the park just in front of the AOC) and played on the playground, danced, played Uno and Dominoes with our Jamaican friends, and just had a nice, relaxing time.
Notes from today:
*For starters, we had some good conversations with my homestay mom, who Jessica and I learned lived with her husband abroad for at least 24 years--14 years in London and 10 years in Atlanta. She told us some interesting stories about life abroad, as well as about her kids in America and Canada.
*Did construction at the High School again all day, and had a good conversation with Ms. Nembhardt (one of the English teachers) and some students (especially one who called himself Ricki Martin, and two girls named Jessica and Kalehia (maybe that spelling is right?)). We managed to finish building the sidewalk and ended up exhausted.
*After our construction project finished, we went to the Roaring River
Ready to go to the river
...after a long day of working in the sun.
and nearby caves (transportation via back of pickup truck), and inside the cave, we jumped into a pool of mineral water and went swimming (it was pretty awesome, and felt great, even though I was still in my jeans and t-shirt). Needless to say, we cooled down plenty, and enjoyed it.
*When we left the cave, we went over to the Roaring River, where we swam some more and waded and whatnot. There, I met a trio of little girls asking for food and money by the river bank. They lived close by (the area there seemed more impoverished than the area where we were living, and the homes nearby appeared to be less well constructed as well as lacking plumbing systems). When I told them I didn't have anything, they just went ahead and played with me instead. They were pretty darn cute. Lynn (one of the other professors) came over where I was and gave them a coconut bun when they asked for food (one of his leftovers from lunch), which they split three ways. They went on playing patty-cake games with me and asking me questions until we left.
*After our dinners at our respective homestays, we
met up at the AOC for a talk about the AOC as well as about Jamaican culture. It was good, because we talked about dance, music, history, education, literature--all that stuff, some of which we studied before we left, but it's always better to hear it in-country from a person from that country. Very informative overall.
I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out, but I'm too tired to go on. Good night!
Tot: 1.447s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 11; qc: 64; dbt: 0.0346s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb