Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag Easter and stuff
7 mei 2011
Easter and stuff
Anyway the last weeks have been the Easter holiday. Two weeks of nothing between term 2 and term 3, that's what it sounds like isn't it? Actually i should start with the weeks before that. The 2nd term of the school year in the Caribbean has 15 weeks. The last 5 weeks are kind of useless, week 11, 12 and 13 all consist of testing. Every term ends with tests for every class on every subject. Every test has to be 2 papers. One with MC questions and one with open/essay questions. After this we had one week of revision in which most teachers gave the test back from the weeks before and the last week was “end of term activities” where all the form teachers work on their class reports and other books. Here this is a lot of work seeing everything has to be typed by hand into books. And every mark has to be typed in around 4 different books or lists. Where back home a teacher puts it into magister and is done :P. Anyway I was not a form teacher at this time so I was usually helping out the teachers that have a big class.
The last day of school was the 15 of April, on which I was “absent on duty”, i left Lethem and went to Annai, a little village to the north. 3 hours by bus on a sucky road which usually takes you there in an hour and a half. I went to Annai with 4 students and one other teacher, Miss Jennifer Smith, to attend the 10th annual north rupununi wildlife and conservation club festival. This means a festival where different schools competed against each other in competitions like cotton spinning cassava grating and arrow shooting. Most the schools were from the north rupununi, we were from the central rupununi, Maruranau is a small village in the south who was specially invited to come up (2 day journey in tractor), and there were two schools from the coast. Anyway we got there on the Friday after a long journey with students throwing up and bus drivers not caring about bumps. We were assigned rooms in the dormitories of the Annai secondary school, which lies right next to the compound where the event was held, which was the Bina Hill institute. The event didn’t start till the next day so we hung around a bit, had dinner and went into our rooms. Miss Jennifer stayed with our female student in the demale dorms. I stayed with the 3 boys in a room in the male dorms. 3 beds that were all rotting away and where we all fell through, and one hammock hung over the beds, that was mainly because i wanted to stay in the same room as the boys instead of sleeping somewhere else and giving them the chance to run out.
The next day started at 5 o’ clock. ARGH i was still sleeping... not. Amerindians all wake up around that time. Sun rises at 6 so they wake up... we had to be at the institute at 7 so i lay in bed cursing for half an hour wondering why they had woken me up. Breakfast was around 7. The first morning we were late so we just got a small piece of bake with locally made peanut butter. Which wasn’t enough for me so they gave me some extra cassava bread. Which was a lot better than the cardboard version we had in Georgetown. This one had a lot more flavour and I soaked it in the tea a bit :P. There we got our shirts. All students wear a white shirt from the event, all teachers and staff have a red t-shirt. After breakfast we walked from the Bina hill institute to the Annai village centre (about a 45 minute walk) but it was a nice way to walk, took some nice pictures of planes (1 meter above me), birds (2 meter next to me) and mountains (conjo far away). In the Annai Benab we had the opening ceremony and Banner presentation. All talked together by a local radio presenter. The entire festival was broadcasted on the only radio centre in the region. It is such a small scale project that not even Lethem receives it.
After the banner showing and the opening ceremony we had to walk all the way back through the scorching sun to the bina hill institute/Annai school. Somehow we even ran parts seeing the moment we got back we would be getting lunch. Took some amazing nice pictures from the views we had on the savannah. I just love it how far you can see and then there is suddenly a mountain. It's a weird mix, because Calum is used to mountains (Scotland) and I am used to a lot of grass with cows, but of course in the Netherlands the cows stand in squares whereas here the cows are all free to go wherever they want in the open savannah. The rest of the afternoon was planned with the original skills competitions as Basket weaving, cassava grating, fire lighting and arrow shooting. . Fire lighting on the original way with a stick and spinning it really fast. Teams of 3 from each club did this competition. Taking over from one another ones they got tired of spinning the stick. Cotton spinning was also done on the original way, spindle and spinning on the leg. We could not take part in this seeing we did not have our own fire lighting stick not our cotton spinning spindle. And mainly too seeing the Lethem children have no clue of how to spin cotton :P. Lethem is a bigger border town on the savannah as you already know.
After dinner we had a culture show, most the Amerindian school perform skits or local dances, but there was one quite special performance, which was a school from the coast, special invited for their performance. This is from a village where years ago all the African slaves fled to. Somehow this is still all black and quite racist against everything else. The place has the highest crime rate in the country, In this village a year ago a guy set up a music school where he plays music with some of the children from the place. He started with 3 students and now he has just over 20. 9 of them came down to the wildlife festival as special guest, mainly as culture show for them to showcase their music. The Buxton school of music had an amazing performance from their group. African drums were played by the group. Of course the middle drummer was a grown up man leading the rest into the correct beat. But the other children were way younger and still amazing drummers. A girl from 7 even started off the second song on her own showing that they were possible to play without the middle drummer always starting. Another one was even 5 years old.
The show was over at around 11. We went to bed in the dorms at 12, just to repeat the entire thing the next day (Sunday) and the day after that. 5 A.M. I was woken up, 11 I went to bed. Except for the last day where it was 1 a.m that i entered the dorms. On the Tuesday we went back, 2 minibuses filled with us (St. Ignatius) and Maruranau students/teachers. We arrived at midday in saints and i was absolutely exhausted. Such long days filled with running around and getting students back to their place. Even though it was so exhausting i still enjoyed it and would definitely do it over. It was a good experience to do as a teacher instead of as a student. That afternoon i walked to the cantine to get myself some lunch., instead of the cantine i ended up in the science lab with Miss Francine (local science teacher) and Sir Antoine (American peace core volunteer works in the school), hung with them for a while and in the end Francine got me to teach extra lessons on the next day, Wednesday. Not really the best way to start your well deserved break is it?
Anyway while i was gone i missed a couple of things here too. Half the school compound burned down, luckily the teachers/students left in the school compound were able to save the school and the houses, the fire was 2 metre away from my house and only 30 centimetres away from Antoine’s. Also Rebecca and Catrin were here for the weekend. I didn’t see them but Calum had fun he said. The 2 girls travelled through on their way from their project to Rio the Janeiro. Saw them on their way back up, last weekend.
The Easter weekend on the savannah is not entirely celebrated in a way we do it back home. Back home we look for chocolate eggs in the living room which are always hided on the same spots. In Guyana we celebrate Easter by having a massive rodeo in Lethem, everyone walks around with cowboy hats and cowboy clothes. The Friday night is the beauty pageant (Miss rupununi) and the Saturday/Sunday is celebrated at the triple R rodeo grounds with bull riding and wild bronco riding. Gary and Hilary were staying with us (other volunteers from Project Trust). But the entire Lethem surroundings are filled up with tons of people. Brazilians and Guyanese from the coast come for this event, which makes Lethem look really big and packed with people, a nice change after 8 months. The new peace core group that came a couple of days before the rodeo must have a weird idea of the place thought. So many people gone so soon after the rodeo.
The event was fun but not really as big as the rodeo in Brazil which we attended 2 weeks before this one. Of course Brazil is richer and has a normal electricity supply, which made the rodeo last longer. Also the rodeo in Bonfim was across the border so we had to keep on drinking till the border opened (7 a.m.) and here in Lethem we just went home when we had enough which was around 1-2 in the morning. Had a funny experience at the Brazilian rodeo thought. We drove back into saint Ignatius at 7 a.m. in the morning, first we passed a student whow as brushing her teeth in the door opening, she didn’t see us. Then we passed the dorms students who were left, they were playing football outside and looked a bit weird at 5 teachers arriving that late (or early). Then we walked out of the car to our door and i saw a student that stays with the HM staring to us from the door of the HM’s house. Of course I had to be the one carrying the half empty bottle of wine, which resulted in stories the next day where we heard the girls talk to each other “Sir was drunk drunk drunk”. Which was not even true...?
In Creole nobody uses the word “very”, so when it is very cold, it is cold cold cold. And when someone is very drunk, he is drunk drunk drunk.
After this big and packed first week i had a relax second week free, taught 2 extra lessons, Tuesday and Thursday. Gary and Hilary went back to their own project, first Hilary back to the coast, the next day Gary to the village of Shulinab in the south.
Monday the 2nd of may was a national holiday, and so is today. Two days ago we started school again though, with big, pleasant and unpleasant, changes. First of all miss Indira, English teacher in form 1, left the school to work somewhere else. This turned out to be really bad for me, since i am an English teacher i now have way more lessons to teach. Also she was the class teacher of the biggest and loudest class, which i am now...
Secondly, the fifth formers started with their final CXC exams. This means that we no longer have to teach them (in school, i still teach extra chemistry lessons outside school) and that results in a lot less lessons for all the senior teachers in the school. Except for Miss Janice who also takes over Miss Indira’s lessons in form 1.
So i have shitloads of lessons during school, (36 lessons, 10 chemistry and 26 English) extra lessons outside school hours and i am now the class teacher in 1D. Luckily the HM said this morning that a new teacher for some of the English lessons should be coming, that would make life a bit easier.
And that is about everything i have done in the last couple of weeks. I hope you understand a thing of what i have been saying, i know i am really excited about it myself so maybe i tumble everything around a bit :P.
Take care and see you around,
Stefan La Rooij
15 mei 2011 10:36 | Door: Bernadet
Hey Stefan, I enjoyed reading your (long) story. I understand that you are very busy over there and an excellent teacher by now. Hold on and best wishes during the last few months. Bye-bye