Day 2 – Mr. Milton, Show Me the Way

Let’s take a quiz on how well you know me. Would I be happy, when it’s -30 C in Saskatoon, being in a warm tropical climate? How would I feel about fixing computers in a school’s computer lab? What would happen if I met a film & video nerd in the same school?

So yes, I have regained Paradise (the Milton reference). It was all I could do to restrain myself and not do a happy dance in the middle of the playground. Overall, I’m trying to shut up, with varying amounts of success.

This morning I began my volunteer work.

Yesterday afternoon, we continued with our orientation, including setting group goals. One thing I don’t miss about teaching is staff meetings. Since the other volunteers were experiencing this kind of thing for the first time, I tried to contribute.

Afterwords we had our first CI food for dinner. Coconut or coconut milk was an ingredient in most of the dishes, but none of the food had a strong coconut flavor. If no one told you, you wouldn’t have noticed at all. Except for the standard salad, the food was all CI origin. Right now the only one I can remember is Angry Bread, which is flat bread that you bake and then tear up as if you were angry. You then add some coconut milk.

I could barely stay awake through dinner. With effort I didn’t bed down until 9:00. Why bother with an alarm if you are that early? Bad idea. Our breakfast time was 6:50 and that’s when I got up. It was raining hard so I got to develop some umbrella skills – it’s more difficult than it looks.

After breakfast we made our lunches and had our morning briefing. James, the country coordinator, drove us to our schools. All other days we take the bus to and from school.

Jim, Jody and I were assigned to Titikaveka College, which is a grade 7 through 12 school of about 100 students.

Within two minutes, experienced educators can tell what kind of school it is. Are the grounds well kept? Do the kids litter? Do the kids look you in the eye and smile? Do the teachers look as though they are glad to be there? Can you see examples of kids work and other decorations suitable to a school?

Within minutes I could tell that Titikaveka College was a great school. The kids are always laughing and smiling, some saying hello. The staff were courteous and friendly.

Mrs. Hedland is the principal. Her late husband grew up on a grain farm just south of our old cabin at Kipabiska. That connection probably got us off to a good start.

When we met with her, I mentioned, in addition to the English Language Arts and Media background, that I had run school computer networks. The later interested her. The other two volunteers went to an English classroom where they spent the day administering individual assessments – since they’d never worked in a school, they found this interesting.

I was taken up to the computer lab and introduced to Caleb. He’s a young guy from Tonga who’s in his second year of teaching. He has some IT classes and really knows his stuff. However, he has to teach full time, so that doesn’t leave him a lot of time to administer computers.

I pitched in, rebuilding and testing a couple of computers. They had been sitting unused, so it felt good to make a contribution.

I sat in on a Grade 8 class of his and as the students were setting up their notebooks for the term, he and I got talking about our mutual interest in film making. He’s self-taught and there are some thing he knows that I’d love to learn from him. I was able to give him a new idea about shot blocking.

He tries to do some shooting on the weekend, so maybe I’ll get a chance to work with him.

I have some other technical jobs lined up, so I should be occupied for a couple of days.

Random notes:

  • I’m going to wait awhile before I start taking a lot of pictures. People need to get used to you.
  • The little pocket video camera won’t charge its battery, so I’ll have to stick to stills.
  • When you go to a Cook Islands home, you take your shoes off. In fact, a lot of the people don’t bother with shoes at all. The footwear of choice is the flip flop. My sandals, which I started to not bother strapping up, aren’t the right footwear.
  • So, I have this dilemma over when to take my shoes off at school. The kids, again, are almost all barefoot. I think I’ll tend to err on the side of naked feet.
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