August 22, 2008

Kindergarten and Community

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)

Soon living in Talua felt as normal as breathing. Joshua and I learnt Bislama as only kids can – by playing with other kids. And the Scott’s kids were always on hand to help out if we got stuck.

I was in the last term of Year 1 at this point, but there was some kind of problem with the post or the distance education school so for the first month or so I joined Joshua and the youngest Scott kid, Bronwyn, at Kindergarten; the colleges version of Preschool. All the children of staff and students from about 3-5 would spend the mornings there.

The Kindergarten had woven bamboo walls and a thatch roof. Thatch roofs in good repair do an amazing job of keeping the rain out of the hut; it was amazing to my western eyes that a roof made entirely of leaves could do just as good job as a roof of metal and tiles.

At Kindergarten we would play with the other children, sing the English alphabet song with a Bislama accent and everyone brought their own morning tea. Before we could eat we would sing grace; “Before I eat my food, I like to stop and say; Thank you God, Thank you God for this my food today. Ah-men!”
I imagine our teachers read us stories and sang other songs with us, but this was the song I remember most vividly. I can still hit the right accent on the words to sound a bit Ni-Vanuatu.

We loved the freedom that came from living in a community. In the afternoon we were allowed anywhere in the college we wanted, we just knew never to go beyond the fence that encircled the campus. There was always something interesting going on inside the college anyway.
One of the Papa’s may have caught crabs the night before so one of the Mama’s was cleaning them ready for cooking. The college’s pigs may have had piglets. The girls may be playing hopscotch. The boys may have found a flying fox. One of the choirs may be practising their songs for Sunday’s service. The students may have started up a game of soccer on the open grass area of the college.

Then, at six, when the light was starting to fade, the generator would be started up and the college would have electricity for exactly 3 hours. Someone would bash a metal rod against an empty gas bottle – letting out a loud piercing sound; to let the single students know that their dinner was ready. These two things signalled that it was time to return home. Dinner would be ready, and we needed to be inside before the mosquito's came out.
(I have used this photo before, but added it here becasue you can see the Kindergarten building in the background with bamboo walls and thatch roof)

No comments: