Thursday, August 16, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our last full day in Fanualama began like all the rest.  We celebrated mass together at 6:10 followed by a breakfast of navy biscuits and pineapple.  Cayla joined Sr. Loretta and I for the morning at Aligegeo.  During morning assembly, the two of us were called to the front of the dining hall.  The administration said thank you and we got to share a word of thanks with the students.  Cayla came to my classes with me.  I had the students play a few games - unscramble the words, word finds - and of course gave out the nutritious prize of cookies.  When I ran out of food, the students asked us questions and vice versa.  Cayla and I tried rapid fire questions, and we learned about the students’ goals after schooling, their favorite sports, number of siblings, and favorite foods.  It was an interesting dynamic because I am the same age as some of the students.  It would have been easier to be friends with them than act as their teacher, but everything worked out really well.  Cayla took two class photos for Form 4 Blue and Form 4 Yellow, one serious and one crazy.  Before I left each class, the prefects stood up and thanked me on behalf of their classmates.  I learned a lot about myself and the culture by working in Aligegeo, and I can only hope they learned a few English skills from me.

Cayla headed off to Kilu’ufi while I organized a few things in the staff room.  Sr. Loretta and I stopped home for a snack before catching the bus to town.  We had two major objectives: get sea sickness medication and refund our boat tickets.  The ship that was supposed to bring us to Honiara had mechanical issues so we made a few travel adjustments.  Luckily another boat had tickets available and is leaving tomorrow at 9 a.m.  We returned to Aligegeo for a thank you meal together with the staff.  We tracked down Cayla at Kilu’ufi by making several phone calls.  When she arrived, everyone gathered in the Home Economics room.  There was a spread of pineapple, cucumber, and biscuits.  The principal made a speech of appreciation.  Cayla and I then shared how much this experience has meant to us and expressed how important the teachers are in the students’ lives.  A teacher presented us with beautiful hand woven baskets, and a necklace, bracelet, and earrings set made in Lilisiana.  It was very generous of them, and I am so happy to have such a beautiful reminder of the people and experiences I have had at Aligegeo Secondary School.   

At home, Patrick helped Cayla and I with Pigin, using the iPad and app that Bro. Rob left with the community.  I learned a few key phrases: “mi lovim you,” (I love you)“mi baebol/mi carriem pikininny” (I am pregnant), and “Spaka!” (drunk).  We teased Sr. Matilda and Sr. Loretta with the last two for the rest of the evening.  We had some more fun showing Patrick and Agatha the wonders of photobooth.  It got to the point where we were falling off the hammock with laughter.  There is something about stretching, squeezing, and contorting your facial features that simply never gets old.  A fun house mirror may be in order for my apartment at school.  

Sr. Matilda gave Cayla and me a tour of her garden.  She grows tomatoes, cucumber, popo, casava, and pana.  It is very hard work weeding and clearing the bush daily.  Sr. Matilda spent the day making casava and coconut pudding for our “last supper.”  It is a labor of love, and we certainly appreciated her kindness.  I took a final “swim” in the cold shower before evening prayer.  It was only the sisters, Cayla and me, and two pickininnies to say the rosary.  But it was very appropriate that the four of us would pray together for our last night.  

We spent part of the night tracking down Liborio, who was making paintings for us.  We had no luck trying to contact him so just hoped we would get in touch with the artist in the morning. 

Dinner was delicious.  Chicken, fish, pudding, cabbage, cucumber, and sweet potato.  We abided by Sr. Matilda’s sarcastic mantra “eat more, exercise less.”  The sisters gave  us a necklace, bracelet, and earrings.  They also presented us with a gift for our mothers.  Agatha gave us lavalavas and gorgeous necklaces from Are’are in south Malaita.  Not only does every village have its own language and dances, it also has a distinct style of jewelry.  Necklaces from Are’are are long and have a large shell or bead.  My necklace has the swirl of a white shell, and I absolutely love it.  These three women have been a major part of my experience in Auki.  They are all selfless, welcoming, kind, loving, and hilarious in their own ways.  It’s hard to believe that I just met them, and harder to believe that it might be a very long time until I see them again.

Disciplining the class is clearly my forte
We played cards after cleaning up.  Agatha plaited my hair with cornrows while Sr. Loretta spoke every thought she had about her hand of cards.  The World Series of Poker is most definitely not in her future.  After finishing my transformation into full on Solomon Island woman with my hair, it was time to pack up.  I made piles of things I was leaving behind, and strategically packed with gifts I was given so they wouldn’t break.  It was late by the time I went to sleep.  It was a wonderful day in Fanualama to finish my first experience here.  I wish all of my family and friends could experience the beauty of the landscape and people I have encountered.  The world can seem so large and overwhelming until a few friendly faces make you feel at home in a place 9,000 miles away.

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