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:


  1. Sounds like you had a great day, even if you didn't care for the booming bamboo. :)

  2. I am sure it would have been a beautiful experience for you. It feels very nice celebrating a birthday like this. My mother would invite all the children from her school on my birthday whenever we celebrated it in one of the Venues in NYC. I always had a great time with them.