Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Miss Crispin!

Yesterday I turned 22! It was my first birthday away from family and friends at home and, although I missed everyone terribly, I had a stupendous time!!

They love to take pictures!
The students and staff of Monchy made sure I felt welcome and loved all day! At morning assembly they sang their birthday song to me (I'm going to try to learn it because it is so much better than ours). Throughout the day I received cards from students wishing me well and telling me how much they loved me. The accent here is different so the students and staff pronounce my name differently, the best I can describe it is that they emphasize the last syllable and stress vowels.  I think because of this discrepancy in pronunciation the students are struggling with how to spell my name. I had one card with Scapin spelled correctly, the majority of the other cards wished a happy birthday to Miss Crispin.

Lucky for me Friday was also Jounen Kweyol (National Creole Day). During the month of October the people of St. Lucia celebrate their Creole heritage. These celebrations culminate on the last weekend of the month with a number of festivals and parties around the island. 

Showing off their Jounen Kweyol style
Monchy Primary celebrates by allowing students to dress in their Kweyol fabric, which is basically different kinds of colorful plaid, instead of their uniforms. There were no classes on Friday, instead the day was spent playing, dancing, telling stories, and eating! The teachers prepared traditional food for breakfast and lunch that students were able to purchase. I was lucky enough to sample several of the different foods including...

fish cakes - fish covered with batter and fried

Such a colorful day!
cocoa tea - almost like hot chocolate, but not really at all... more of and herbal taste but still very sweet and delicious

floats - which is a sweet dough wrapped in tin foil (they used to wrap them in banana leaves, but foil is much quicker) and the put in boiling water to cook

For lunch I had a pork stew with beans and dumplings... I didn't catch the official name but it tasted pretty good.

The boys drumming away
The students have an amazing sense of rhythm! The older boys spent the day drumming and making music on the table, walls, and anything else they could find! Staff and students took to dancing the day away. The way some of these kids can move their bodies blew me away. Although it took some time and encouragement for them to get started once their feet and hips got going there was no stopping them.

The students also shot off bamboo throughout the day. At first this made me very nervous. I mean fire, and children, and loud noises, and small children... those don't usually mix well in my experience. But this has been a part of celebrations forever here so all the kids are experienced and know what is safe and what is not. The students here are very responsible and trustworthy. They know what is allowed, what is safe, and who is in charge so they are given a lot more freedom than American students.
Shooting off bamboo

 After I got over my nerves I learned a little bit more about what was going on. Students took a large bamboo chute and propped it on the ground so that it faced up into the air. There was a small hole on the top of the bamboo where they poured kerosene in. Then they blew into the hole, lit a stick on fire and placed the fire into the hole and then blew air into it again. It made a loud booming sound as the air/flame shot out the end. It was fun to watch but the constant booms put me on edge a bit.

If you want to see more pictures from Creole day and/or the Monchy School in general you can find them on Facebook:

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Here!

I have finally arrived and settled in St. Lucia! I am already melting from the heat but am definitely enjoying myself.

The view from my front porch
I landed on Saturday and was met at the airport by Sister Marie Therese who drove me around the island and to my host home. Sister has been absolutely fantastic! She invited me to lunch at her home on Sunday after she took me to mass and helped me figure out my phone situation. She has just been a blessing in my adjustment to St. Lucia.

My Bedroom
My host mom is great! She is encouraging me to be as independent as possible, which is awesome.

I had my first day at Monchy today, which went really well. The staff and students were so welcoming and friendly. By then end of the day I had a host of the younger students gathered around me asking questions and anxious to tell me what they learned at school that day.

Tomorrow I have to start taking the bus to school; actually I will be taking two buses. I'm a little nervous about negotiating the system but I'm sure with practice it will be fine.

Grade 5 field trip at the beach!
 On Wednesday I got the opportunity to help chaperone a field trip for grade 5 this week. They are learning about ecosystems so we took a long walk to the beach and observed several different types of ecosystems on our hike.

On the way to the beach with Grade 5
The walk was over an hour each way, but it was beautiful weather and scenery. It was also a great chance to interact with students and get to know them a little bit. Even though this was not the class I will be teaching I loved spending time with the students and building relationships with them.

Several students and staff were concerned about my ability to make the trek and the condition of my skin. I am pleased to report that I made the hike without complaint or any trouble, I have no sunburn, and other than a mosquito bite on my eyelid I am unscathed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Less than 2 days...

Still cannot believe I am actually leaving this weekend!

I have been ridiculously busy this week between wrapping up student teaching at Wrightstown, trying to get myself prepared, and spending quality time with people before I leave. I finally finished running errands and will be packing tonight. Wish me luck; I have to fit 9 weeks of clothing and teaching materials into one 50 pound piece of luggage.

If you read the comments on this blog you may notice some updates from my current students at Wrightstown High School. I have been assured by a couple of students that I will have a daily update on what they've been doing during study hall. Recently this has included picking noses, eating boogers, and crying... it is worthy to note that these are the Juniors...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holy. Cow.

So... I leave in 12 days.

This trip is sneaking up on me. I can't believe I have one weekend left in the states. I've been so busy with student teaching in Wisconsin, trying to learn as much as possible and enjoying my time at Wrightstown that I've barely had time to process going to St. Lucia.

Last weekend I got the amazing opportunity to meet with a previous SNC graduate that did her teaching in St. Lucia 4 years ago. It was so nice to just be able to sit and hear her talk about her experiences and all of the things she learned and saw. She had a photo album that she brought to our coffee date and we just looked through it and she told me everything she remembered. She is basically my new favorite person because she let me pick her brain for a couple of hours. The best part though is that on her plane ride home from St. Lucia she made 2 lists in her journal: one of all the things she wished she had brought, and one of all the things she wished she had known. So she is basically my favorite person ever right now.

Although I'm feeling apprehensive about leaving so soon I'm also pretty confident. I find myself preferring this level of preparedness. On one hand I'm freaking out about the technical aspects of getting there and making sure things go smoothly but on the other hand I feel like there is no way I could prepare for what I will experience there anyway. Getting on the plane with no expectations and an open mind is the best thing I can do for myself right now.