Education and Phagwa

26/03/2014 17:06

Well, I went to Town. Not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was way too hot and the mosquitos were a nightmare. At night I would sit on the floor of my flat in my underwear dripping sweat and oozing blood from my many scratched mosquito bites. I also had an upset stomach, so ate nothing apart from a pizza (quite delicious!) and a ‘cheese pie’ in three days. On the bright side of life, I did manage to buy more rations, CDs, a birthday present for Calum and things we needed. Sadly I failed to buy the next Game of Thrones book I needed (it was over $6000 and a hardback), but I now have more than two non-mouldy shirts to wear to school, which is nice.

The CXC English workshop itself was interesting. I enjoyed chatting to the other teachers – all from either the Coast or Lethem - on my table and regaling them with my tales of the jungle. Coastlanders really seem to think that Region 8 is the back end of nowhere. The divide between the Amerindian interior communities and the towns is insane. It really became obvious to me when our lecturer advised us to play informative DVDs and CD’s to our students (umm … electricity?) and told us that the main problem we teachers have is that our students go home and play games on the internet instead of studying. The latter was greeted with nods of agreement from all but two or three of the 200-odd teachers in the room. Internet?! My students don’t study because they have to carry water from the creek or go to farm cassava. I also seemed to be the only teacher present with the problem that the majority of my students speak English as their second language … after Patamuna. When I asked the lecturer about this, she informed me that I was ‘at an advantage’ because they will focus harder on grammar and spelling. This is all very well, but I don’t think she has ever actually been to PK and seen the quality of language (refer to my previous blog!) … I have Grade 11s who can’t even form a coherent sentence.

The boys came over on Friday too, so I had only a few hours to recover from my flight before they arrived. We had a fantastic weekend. Miss Dorothy taught us to make a delicious Indian-style chicken curry, let us try some homemade wine, told us to help ourselves to her coconuts, and chatted to us about dramatic deaths and how everyone in Region 8 is related. Nicky (turns out her real name is Serena) chilled with us one evening. The next night we went for a barbecue at her house with her mum, who gave us her brilliant views on the world (everything from murder to masturbation) whilst we ate crazily good chicken, cassava bread, stew and pepper. We had a holiday on Monday for Phagwa (aka Holi). We were woken by our students dragging us outside then throwing buckets of water and clay at us. The students left, then came back later. Because there are no Hindus in PK, no one was selling the paint powder, so my tiny tub of purple powder given to me in Town ran out pretty quickly. The afternoon was a messy one involving the destruction of our house, and lots of water, soap, bath salts (?), clay, coffee, shampoo and bottles being thrown about until we ran out of water and so had to stop. I’ve decided I like Phagwa, but celebrating it in Scotland might be a bit cold – maybe we could have a coloured snowball fight?

I am a bit miffed because the Ministry of Education maths-man is currently in PK and he has stolen my Grade 11s to do excessive amounts of maths with them. I now only have two weeks left (next term) in which to teach them the rest of the English stuff that they need. He’s stolen them for one week and is threatening to do so for another week. This is seriously decreasing their chances of passing English because I have much less time with them than I need.