Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cook Islands Host Offers Thanks

To all the generous Global Volunteers:

I have been and will always be mindful of the importance and impact of the presence and performances of the volunteers, not only in community groups (NGOs) but in government departments as well. CIANGO has been one of the many organisations that has truly benefited from the Global Volunteers, in establishing a data base for the organisation. This data base will always remind us of the Volunteers who worked so hard on that, and I cannot express how much we appreciate and will always be thankful to the Volunteers for such a remarkable and memorable service to CIANGO. God bless those Volunteers!

The works of the Volunteers at the Creative Centre, Punanga Tauturu, Te Kainga and in the schools and in welfare organisations, in the Library, etc, cannot go unmentioned. There may not have been much publicity in some of the works that the Volunteers have undertaken, but that has been very much appreciated and highly recognised by the recipients of those services.

While there is so much yet to be told about the services of the Volunteers, I wish to remind all Volunteers that, we, the NGOs hold special respect for the services rendered by the Volunteers to the various community bodies, and the nation as a whole. We value the good work of the Volunteers and hope that this is not the end of it all. There are still yet a need for Volunteers, in the hospital, in schools and in welfare centres around the island. May be we need to advertise more about the services of the Volunteers, for the wider community to make use of these voluntary services.

(At the same time, this will (hopefully) help to educate our own people to offer their services voluntarily sometimes and not to think of money all the time.)

CIANGO has been very previledged and happy to be your host in the Cook Islands. Welcome all, any time. Thank you once again, may God bless you all with a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Joyous New Year.
Kia Manuia, Aunty Ve

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Week Three in the Cook Islands

Millennium Development Goals Achieved by this Team: 1,980 students and 30 teachers taught English language skills, 390 hours of English language instruction

The KiiKii Hotel, with the continual sound of the surf, is a peaceful, restful home away from home.

Home.... Family, job, and routine responsibilities are a million miles away.

Today marks the half-way point for the six members of Vaka 102 that are staying the full 3 weeks, and the three-quarters point for the remaining 7 of us. I can’t believe that I have only 2 more days of helping at Tereora College.

I wasn’t sure I was really helping, but listening to the various community partners at last Friday’s celebration dinner made me realize that every little bit does help, cumulatively, over time. There are so many places on Rarotonga that I haven’t been able to visit and will not be able to before Brandi and I leave on Saturday. This fantastic adventure will soon be drawing to a close – however the friends and memories I have made will last forever. The opportunity for me to meet 16+ new and special friends as well as the chance to spend real quality time with my granddaughter to reinforce what I’ve known for a very long time, that she is a very special person to me.
– Joyce Benedict

**********It is encouraging to know that a nation’s need for a couple extra hands is able to spark the interest in so many people, form so many walks of life, from so many thousands of miles (or km’s) away, to come and lend a helping hand in whatever tasks need to be done regardless the task or method.

During my time here I have spent the majority of my days helping out at the Whale Research Center, patiently waiting for the phone call that the whales have made their way north to the beautiful waters of Rarotonga. Once the calls and or sightings started coming in it is easy to see that the people I am helping out are completely devoted to helping these animals. On a smaller time table we too have devoted our time, one, two, or three weeks in order to help a greater cause. During the days in which I was not at the research center organizing their technology, I spent my time at the conservation area cleaning the yard at the front office. In that I can hope that we have helped in providing an area that employees can be proud of when they bring visitors through for tours. I also spent time with the Mammas, working up a sweat, enjoying the weather, and even some local musical talent.

All in all, this has been a trip I will never forget, in a land that is so different from my home. What I have learned is that no matter where I travel people live to have something to be proud of. I can say that I am proud to be a member of the Vaka 102, proud of the footprint we have left on this rock that truly is one of the jewels of the world.
– Kyle Schwan

************The first day of work week 3 found me at my regularly scheduled 1st day at Takitumu Primary School. Quite a change from last week where Claire and I spent many hours together trying diligently to produce a communication project for a group of people with disabilities. You wouldn’t think that this would be difficult considering we had 2 speech-pathology degrees and many years of experience (on Claire’s part) between us. Needless to say things are never as easy as they appear but it was very rewarding to see many of our ideas, suggestions and communication schedules being used on Friday. Today I read with a number of students and worked in the library, alongside my now infamous “partner in crime” Kay and Rajni. It was very rewarding to sit with the students and discuss the various stories with them and see their eyes light up when I suggest a game of Junior Scrabble. It makes me realize and appreciate that what we do here on the Cook Islands no matter how small or big is always appreciated. - Stefanie Pinguet

*************Ron returns to his beloved Imanuela Akatemia to continue reading in the morning and working on the projects for the principle in the afternoon. He’s determined to complete the assigned painting outside and the student Watermelon Marketing Committee. Janice offered to use her skills to help Donna at the Disability Action Team develop a series of news releases for the local papers. Rajni, Kay and Stefanie returned to our fond community partner, Takitumu reading program, where they continued with the reading program and included a bit of library work as well.

Claire set out with Donna again to conduct very cursory speech assessments in the schools followed by a 2 hour visit to Papa John in his home where he recuperates from a stroke. She finished the day with Mata, a delightful teen with a cleft palate that she and Stefanie started seeing last week. These are 2 very grateful families. Although three week at first seemed an abundance the days have sped up so we wonder where the time has gone. We are just settling in to island life and it’s time to turn our thoughts to home! All too soon our Cook Island adventure will become a pleasant memory of a faraway paradise.
-Claire Kirchen

**********I cannot believe that we only have 3 more days left on the beautiful island that I have begun to call home. I’ve been here nearly 4 weeks now (since I came a week early), and already I feel as though I’ve been accepted by the locals and have been treated like family. The bus drivers remember us and the kids from school wave as they pass us by in town. It puts a smile on my face whenever people ask if I’m a local and then how their faces light up when I say I’m here with Global. I think they really appreciate the things we are doing for their children and for the community. I remember why I chose to come to the Cook Islands – not only because of the beauty, but also because of the friendliness and hospitality that I know the people of the South Pacific have. Here the air is fresh and scented with frangipani and gardenias. There is a ring of turquoise around the island that always takes my breath away.

As far as work went the mural project at Apii Te Uki Ou turned out great and I’m so proud that the girls Vaine, Tash, Taylor and Rosie thought of such a unique way to beautify their school.

One of the highlights of the trip was being able to catch a Kakerori at the conservation area. Holding the bird in my hand, I was amazed at how fragile and yet how cheeky it was, and grateful that so many people have joined together to save its species.

I don’t think I could have wanted more from this trip…our team leader Debi has been absolutely wonderful and I think of her as one of the mother hens that roam around the Kii Kii and we are kind of like the chickens who have grown and now must fly. Even though chickens don’t really fly…well you get the idea! - – Rajni Boparai

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Report from Vaka 102

Rarotonga continues to be a beautiful and meaningful service location for Global Volunteers!

Team (Vaka) 102 made a significant impact on the island in addressing Millennium Development Goal #3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. This team of 10 volunteers provided more than 1,500 hours of reading and English instruction to 115 Cook Islands students. We're grateful to our school hosts for the invitations to serve their children in this way.

The volunteers, all unique but alike in their desire to give fully of themselves, shared their feelings in so many wonderful ways. Following are some excerpts from our team journal written by intergenerational family members volunteering together:

*****Since our first meeting (the meet and greet dinner) everyone has been very patient, honest, supportive, and optimistic to me and the other members of our team.

Today my mom, sister, and I read to the second and fourth graders at St Joseph Elementary School. Sister Cecilia is very wonderful. She is a little bundle of spice and everything nice. She invited us to morning tea at 10:30. Lexi, mom, and I ended up having a huge snack consisting of noodles, tuna, bread, butter and tea. Then till about one o’clock we read with the children. Every child receives a certificate of achievement. Then the children have recess. They invited Lexi and I to play Duck Duck goose with them. I was in luck. Duck Duck Goose is my favorite game.

I was picked to be the goose many times. The little ones told me that I was funny and very fast. For me being fast is very ironic. I ended up in the mush pot 3 times. I kind of jogged so they could catch me. Other times they got me before I could run across the circle. I also acted a lot. I pretend to sniff and sneeze and I danced all around them. I wish that I did not have to leave them but I am seeing them Thursday and Friday. They cannot wait to see Lexi and I again.

Tomorrow we are visiting the "Mamas. " I'm very excited because I frequently visit my 93-year-old grandmother. I can’t wait to hear their stories and to be able to give my services to them. This has been and still is a fantastic experience. I am sooo fortunate! Thank you to my family, team Vaka 102 and to the Global Volunteer organization.
– Marinella Chvatal

*****The truth of our impact was shown to us as we walked through the town center. Kids were waving and smiling at my daughters, with their parents extending a quiet wave and soft smile. Sharing a meal with the Mamas and having them chat & chat with us, and hug us when we left showed us how we have impacted others. For it is in the individuals that we have touched and that have touched us – that is the reason we are here.

In the weeks and months ahead as we reflect on the experience we had enjoyed here I believe we will realize that we have been changed because of being a Global Volunteer on the Cook Islands. We have broadened our perspective of the world. Hopefully we will retain some of the Island gentleness and philosophy of slow down and enjoy now. To enjoy the present with the relationships of those around us rather than always rushing to a future situation is a mantra of these last 7 days.

I would be remiss not to mention the impact of each member of the team on my family. Vaka 102 is a diverse global community in itself reflecting different cultures and paths of life. Yet each is driven with a passion to make the world a better place. Each has chosen action, not just talk, and has invested much of themselves in the project. We are grateful to the new friendships we have made. A special thank you to Debi Futter-Puati, our team leader. Her perception of each of us as individuals and her non-judgmental philosophy has made us comfortable and enhanced our experience. We are grateful to be a part of Vaka 102.
– Pat Chvatal

*******On Friday, I went to work at Takitumu Primary School around 8:30 am and gradually read with our other 5-6 students for 20 minutes each throughout the day. When we first started reading with the kids, I didn’t really enjoy it or the thought of doing the same thing everyday for 2 weeks. But now the first week is over and I’m having a very good time with the kids! They aren’t so shy around Kay, Camela and I; they act like themselves. My favourite part of the day would have to be when we first arrive and walk to our room. We pass all the classrooms and the kinds, including the ones we don’t read with, know our names, tell us “Good Morning” and are excited we are there; it’s great!!

I only have a week left here with Global Volunteers, but I had and am still having a fantastic time! I don’t think I will ever forget about this once in a lifetime experience in the Cook Islands with my Grandma and Vaka 102. Thank you all!
- Brandi Hill

A day in the life of Vaka 102 - Low tide at the KiiKii
It was low tide at the Kiikii today. As I walked out to the reef, the sun danced on the inky blue sea urchins. The sight was spectacular, but ephemeral. Soon, the tide started to lap back in, announcing that tidal visitation hours were over. This was a reminder that all experiences are transitory.

As Vaka 102, we have joined together as a team, united by a common purpose, but we have also created our own vaka – a community, home, and sense of place. We are diverse like the coral that has given birth to the beach. Each one of us unique in his or her pattern, formation, and gifts. The patchwork formations of coral on the beach carry within them inherent wisdom and grace. This is the wisdom of interdependence (for the different types of coral were once fused together to form the protective reef.)

Engaging in global volunteering acknowledges such interdependence. As we embrace the diversity of culture, valuing the different patterns and customs in the world, we are anchored by the enduring truths of humanity present in all cultures. By nature we are relational creatures; we need one another. In making a child feel smart and successful, we understand the joys of true success.

The tide will be coming in on our trip faster than we can anticipate, but we will have seen, shared and served - each in our own way. As my mom said in today’s thought for the day, sometimes the lesson comes after the learning. The lessons for Vaka 102 may continue on for many years as the coral slowly turns into sand and the individual patterns become one.
– Camela Kirchen

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday 4th July

"Wealth is not determined by what you have but by what you have for which you would not take money."

Final day of our three week work experience. Both Nikki and I tried to see all our students. Friday afternoon is sport time. We frequently miss the last few students. There was a good-bye meal in the staff room. Nikki being a vegetarian, didn’t eat the chicken kebabs however she enjoyed the fruit, pasta salad and rice. We were given presents of a pareu, t-shirt and beads each.

In the afternoon I went to Muri beach to swim. Walked across the water to an island. Did get a bit of swimming in.

Evening found us at the Tamarind restaurant. We were joined by James plus two volunteers for the next go around – Sarah and Romana. Good food, good friends, good time was had by all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thursday 3rd July

"Turn your scars into stars."

Today the Dynamic Duo became the Triumphant Trio with the addition of Romana to the team. She is part of the next contingent starting on Saturday but has begun early – full of enthusiasm - and spent the day at the Creative Centre with special needs children.

After school Suzanne went for her daily swim while Nikki walked out to, and along, the reef at low tide.

The evening saw us at the Auditorium for the Vaka Takitumu Dance Troup Concert, put on to raise funds for their coming trip to the Pacific Arts Festival in American Samoa. As well as the dance troupe, there were items performed by the younger up-and-coming dancers (6 being the youngest age), through to the Mama’s (whose upper age was not revealed)! The Mama’s and ex-dance troupe items received much applause, while the costumes, stories and drum dances by the troupe were a feast for our eyes and ears. The best dancing we’ve seen. Well worth $10.00. A VERY late night with us arriving home abut 11pm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday 2nd July

"Learn form the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself."

Am I or am I not working with the mama’s? Turned out I was. Only five ladies came today. Two of them talked a bit. Chatty Kathy was not there and definitely missed. Mary, a health nurse, held a religious ceremony, led the exercise class and cooked the meal. What a gem! While I was busy chatting with the Mama’s, Nikki was working at the school, not only with her her students but also with mine.

The afternoon found me feebly attempting to snorkel and swim. Evening time I was learning about the poverty on Tonga, eating another delicious meal prepared by Debi while conversing with the Fijians staying at our motel and learning about the influence of the Indians on their country, making Hindi one of their major languages.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday 1st July

"With your basket and my basket, together we feed the people."

The day dawned with a few clouds in the sky. These increased throughout the day until about 1.30pm when they all began to cry.

The school day progressed as normal. In between students we discussed how a number of children try to guess the word based on the picture. They don’t even look at the word or try to sound it out. It is something we have both been working on with the students, with varying results.

After school Suzanne hitched a ride south to the Rarotongan, while Nikki got a ride with a parent to town.

In the evening we learned how to make an Ei with Mama Here in the Vaka Lounge. The Island secrets were revealed and we produced colourful Ei’s to wear tomorrow. Debi also made a lovely pink one for her daughter who arrives home from New Zealand early tomorrow.

Mama Here joined us for dinner – another meal courtesy of Chef Debi. I wonder if Debi has thought of selling her cooking – The Café may be a prospective client!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday 30th June

"A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops."

Day began! I miss Sir Rodney the rooster. Since we changed rooms last week I no longer hear him in the mornings. Nikki decided to hike back to the hotel on foot – a 25 minutes jaunt. My time, if I was so inclined, and I AM NOT, would be much longer.

Evening adventures were a visit to the Matutu Brewery. I learned beer making entails more than tipping the glass back. Debi’s husband, James, and a partner run the whole shebang. About black pearls, the islands treasure, is another lesson learned at a small workshop. The evening was topped off with dinner at a newly established restaurant. Quite tasty!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday 29th June

Sunday saw us both heading off to church. This week Nikki went to the Avarua AOG with Kerry (one of the older student teachers) and Papa Ken – an 80 year old local who keeps busy by visiting the patients in the hospital and counseling teens. After church they went to the Rarotongan for lunch and to see the show put on by St Mary’s Music Ministry.

Suzanne also went to the show and everyone enjoyed the local dancing and music. Suzanne suggested this be recommended for future volunteers.

Dinner today was a BBQ at Debi and James’ with other guests, both local and foreign. An enjoyable kai kai where we sampled the local brew – Matutu – produced by James, and agreed it was a lovely drop.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday 28th June

Today saw us taking to the water with Suzanne going on a local glass bottom boat cruise and Nikki flying off to Aitutaki for a lagoon cruise.

Phil was the tour leader for Aitutaki – a cross between David Hasselhoff and Tom Jones. More than a few of the 10 Student Teachers from Melbourne snapped photo’s of him throughout the day and compared them when he wasn’t looking. He was a great character, the perfect tour guide, who along with the rest of the crew gave us an absolutely wonderful day.

The waters in the lagoon are a multitude of turquoise colours – pure beauty. We visited Moturakau where the British ‘Shipwrecked’ program was filmed, before dropping anchor near large coral formations for snorkeling. Here we were able to see one very large giant clam – apparently imported from the Great Barrier Reef – and three smaller giant clams. We were honoured with the sighting of two turtles before heading to One Foot Island (Tapuaetai).

Lunch was a smorgasbord of traditional and modern foods and the tuna was to die for, with one girl saying she had three helpings, even though she was full, because it was so unbelievably good. Aside from the Aussie students (2 of whom were South African), fellow passengers consisted of 2 retired couples from New Zealand and a group of travel agents, also from New Zealand on a whirlwind trip of the Cook Islands. This was the last of their 4 day trip in which they had visited 15 hotels on the first day.

As we prepared to return to Rarotonga some were thinking of future holiday plans back on Aitutaki. Other comments included: “I know where I’m going for my honeymoon”, “Rarotonga is going to be blah after this”, “I just want to stay and sleep on the beach”. Personally I’ve decided no-one should visit the Cook Islands without going to Aitutaki.

Phil advised us that the whales have apparently arrived with two guides having seen some humpbacks from the Whatever Bar.

Suzanne’s cruise took her to various points within the lagoon surrounding Rarotonga, viewing the wildlife through a glass bottom boat. She also took to the water with snorkeling gear and got ‘up close and personal’ with the locals.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday 27 June

"Doing nothing is the most tiring job in the world, because you can’t stop and take a rest."

Being Friday the school day commenced with Assembly and this week Grade 5 had the honour of performing for the school. Trophies were given out with one of the smallest boys in the school receiving two. If you had put them end to end, they would almost be as tall (or short) as he was.

Apparently after school yesterday some students ‘had fun’ throwing sand at the open pre-school windows. Naturally the sand landed inside. The pre-school teacher asked the students responsible to stand up. Immediately one girl stood but the rest of the students remained seated. The teacher kept asking for the others, but no-one moved. Eventually however the girl’s eyes revealed who her co-conspirators were and three boys eventually raised themselves up. Guilty faces, plain for all to see. You almost felt sorry for them!

Dinner was at the Kikau Hut where we were joined by James, Debi’s husband. The food was delicious and we even treated ourselves to two desserts, shared between the four of us – chocolate cheesecake and banofee pie. Then we waddled home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday 26th June

"Be careful about your thoughts …they become your actions."

Change of pace for me (Suzanne). Went to visit the Mama’s. Better known as Are Pa Metua. Nikki did this yesterday. Today she held down the fort at school. I enjoyed my time visiting with the Mama’s. My main conversationalist was Tamura. There were six Mamas’ there for the day. A fish meal was prepared by Mary, a health nurse who would love to retire. She has tried to retire many times and was successful once for a few months.

Evening found only Debi and me out for a meal. Nikki wasn’t feeling well so she begged off. Ate at the Café Salsa and it’s right in town with tables inside and out. My tour book recommends it highly and so do I.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday 25th June

"We are all like stones thrown in the water. Our attitude, actions and words are the ripples that go out from us and touch people – many of those people we never meet."

We had a late start this morning with our morning meeting commencing at 8.45am. Suzanne headed off on the bus for Takitumu school arriving after Bible study classes had finished, which the children are required to attend. She then had her first 3 students together and they played bingo.

Nikki headed to Aere Pa Matua – the Mama’s and Papa’s of this fair land. However today there were only Mama’s. The Mama’s were a mixed group, with some quite chatty, there were others who did not speak English or spoke very little. Some had quite a sense of humour! After lunch Mama Mary played the ukulele and the Mama’s sang along – two of them translating the songs to English for Nikki.

All the Mama’s are single and Nikki noticed that one Mama had a flower behind both ears. She asked whether this had a special meaning and one of the other Mama’s said ‘she has two boyfriends’, which caused a ripple of laughter from the other Mama’s.

After school Suzanne headed to the beach for a swim and smoothie at Fruits of Rarotonga, while Nikki went to town to check emails and have an iced mocha at The Café, which is relocating to the Beachcomber building next week.

The evening saw us in new quarters overlooking the beach. Suzanne took advantage of the scenery, sitting outside reading and enjoying the views of palm trees and ocean.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday 24th June

"The sound of children’s laughter is, to me, euphoria." –Spike Milligan

Day began as usual but not for the school faculty. Before school began the fifth grade teacher left the school. Not sure of the reason. The principal took over the fifth grade classroom. Made my day easier since my last three students had a sport activity at the end of the day.

Nikki headed to the airport for her ticket to Aitutaki on Saturday.

Evening found us at the Rarotongan for a great buffet dinner. We both had seconds on dinner and dessert.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday 23rd June

"Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway." –John Wayne

Today heralded the beginning of our second week and the realization that one week had flown by already.

At school we decided to try bingo with the first two students – joining as a team to play it. It worked so well that we repeated the process with the second two students. Suzanne then concentrated on rhyming words, trying to teach the students that if you can read ‘light’, then ‘might’, ‘sight’ etc are easier to pick up. Nikki continued with teaching phonetics and was delighted to see students using this method and working out the words.

The school’s ‘virtue’ for this week is ‘enthusiasm’. Nikki taught each of her students how to pronounce it (none could) and then explained what it meant.

After-school activities saw Suzanne heading north to town to spend time with her friend I. Net!! Nikki headed south to try out the snorkeling at Titioki Beach. A delicious smoothy from Fruits of Rarotonga finished the snorkeling experience with Nikki having seen some VERY big fish. Some swam round and round her and she realized they probably wanted to be fed. Something to remember for next time.

Dinner was home-made pizza and salad provided by Debi – another delicious meal from her kitchen. Debi joined us for dinner where we relived the days events and discussed the children’s reading abilities – along with lion kills, penguin habits and ice-skating in Japan.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday 22nd June

Headed for church again. Making sure I am getting my money’s worth from the skirt I bought for church services. Last week we went to CICC service, this week I went to the Catholic service.

The afternoon found me on a safari. Saw parts of the island I wouldn’t have seen on my own. Best part of the trip was the delicious swordfish barbecue. Nikki headed south to see the one and only waterfall on the island plus some fun time at the Rarotongan Resort.

Evening meal provided by Debi is always a treat. However mine this time will be eaten a day later.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday 21st June

The Punanga Nui Market on Saturday is always a draw. Both Nikki and I went and both made some purchases. I also tried the famous Hokey Pokey ice-cream.

Lazy Saturday afternoon. Nikki took quite a walk along the shoreline. The two of us had dinner at the Flying Boat – fish and burger type of place. Early evening.

I did learn the bus driver recognized me when he automatically stopped at the Kii Kii. I hadn’t mentioned my stop and was too engrossed in conversation to notice. I also left a bag on the bus. Short way from the motel the bus stopped and a passenger ran up to me with my bag. I’m such a delight to one and all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday 20th June

Carpe’ diem

Off to school. The students have a port activity in the afternoon. The morning proved easy. An assembly was held for the first hour or so. Performances (readings) by grade six students, awards given out and lots of singing made up the agenda.

Not mentioned before – lunch time is 10.00-11.00am. Went to Perfumes of Rarotonga during the break. Standard hang out for me (Suzanne). Dinner at the Ravi’s Indian buffet. Went with Debi and her husband James and we were joined by the owners of our hotel – Harry and Pauline Napa.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday 19th June

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

School started on time today and the children came for their reading one-by-one. Some didn’t want to leave while others were eager to get back to class, sports or their friends.

Grade’s 4, 5 and 6 had PE (sport) in the afternoon and the two 5th graders that turned up for reading squiggled and squirmed until we released them early to join their classmates on the field.

Nikki discovered the school cat (Sophie) likes cheese.

At lunchtime little fish were cooked in the staff room. Apparently someone – we never found out who – had gone fishing that morning and the fish were offered to the staff.

After school we hitched a ride with a Kiwi builder into town, the alternative being to wait 45 minutes for the bus.

The internet and a swim filled in the time until Debi picked us up for dinner at Aquarius where we were able to see a Vaka close up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday 18th June

"God grant me the courage to change the things that can be changed, the patience to accept the things that can’t be changed and the wisdom to know the different."

Day began as Sir Rodney the Rooster woke me up before the crack of dawn. Met with Debi and Nikki for the thought of the day and journal reading.

Off to school. Bible study is the first half hour every Wednesday. Somehow this translated to students not arriving for the first hour. Day went well – kids interested in my teeth – especially my gold crown. Students love to read. Working on rhyming words with the more advanced ones.

Free time translated into a cool or should I say cold dip in the hotel pool, meal brought by Debi’s husband and a cocktail at Raro Club.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday 17th June

Thought For The Day: "One of the best ways to discover what a man is really like, is to discover what makes him angry."

The team of two which represents Vaka 100 gathered with Debi in the team meeting room to begin our first day working with the students at Takitumu School. We set out for the school wondering what the day would bring and how the students would react to us.

Ana, the Principal, gave us each a schedule listing times and names of students with whom we would be working on a one-to-one basis to improve their reading skills. The first students arrived and we need not have had any apprehension. They were a delight.

As the day progressed, the different students arrived and left, each with their own personality. The range of reading skill levels provided variety, and games provided fun and enjoyment for some students – as well as the teachers!

The students were generally warm and welcoming and all too soon the school day ended and we felt a good day’s work had been done.

We managed to drop into the Perfume Factory next to the school and fill our senses with a range of aromas.

In the evening we ‘shook our booty’ at the local dance practice sessions, joining in with the juniors. We quickly realized this was a good way to exercise as our muscles ‘spoke’ and the sweat appeared! We have a long way to go until we meet ‘junior’ standards.

After the exercise it was time to eat at the gourmet burger bar. I can highly recommend the fish and curried mango burger. Delicimo! Then it was home to bed satisfied with a day filled with work, dance and food!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday 16th June

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.

Started day with Debbie giving an inspirational thought from Dr Martin Luther King. Headed off to visit work sties and would-be work sites. Group down from five to two. Met the principal of Takitumu School – Ana Makara, where Nikki and I will be tutoring reading mainly to students in grade 4. From grades 1-3 the students’ lessons are in Maori. From grades four on up, English reigns.

Stopped by the other two schools with news of too few volunteers to accommodate them. Also saw some interesting sites – place where Vaka’s took off for New Zealand. Also met a man with a mission. He was working on a Vaka for a trip or many trips ahead. He needs a crew of around twenty people – both men and women these days.

Free time for lunch and looking around the town of Avarua. In the evening a scrumptious traditional kai kai dinner was prepared by Nikki and shared with community partners: Nikki, Red Cross; Meneana Te Kainga, Mental Health; Karen and Eve, Immanuela School; and Sisters Catherine and Margaret. Good time, good food and good conversation.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sometimes I just want to stare at the sky, sit in a beautiful space, watch the blue waters as the waves dash against the shore and the warm ocean breezes. This is how I describe Cook Island, the Paradise and the Shangri-la of the South Pacific.
The day started with strong winds and torrential rain blowing the electric wiring of two Americans, George and Ron, who just arrived from Florida. The balcony in front of our room was a mess.
After breakfast Denise and I reported to St. Joseph for our assignment, with Tai bringing us to school every day. There were lots of students out of school due to the rain. We didn’t even rehearse the Christmas pageant.
Regular classes started on the dot. Delia, the local teacher, motivated the pre-school students who were 15 in number by singing action songs. I joined the class and the kids were very enthusiastic and responsive. The kids love it.
Then we taught them how to write the big letter “E” and the small letter “e”. They had to write the letters repetitiously in their notebook. There were some smart students and a few could hardly write the letters. After writing the alphabet we watched a musical movie, Wiggle. They’re enjoying the whole show. While we were watching the movie I was busy working on the wings of the angels who’ll be in the Christmas play. This was my morning schedule. After working with the kids, I had to practice with 20 students for my Filipino dance – “PANDANGOSA ILAW” meaning “Dance of the Light”. I have 2 more rehearsals with them and I leave it up to Dick, their teacher to brush up the balancing of the glasses on the heads of the girls. Hopefully they’ll be able to dance without dropping their glasses. This dance will be performed during their Christmas celebration on December 11.
Coming home from work, I met Sarah in the bus. I’m lucky to meet people I know. Sarah is a volunteer from another organization and she was gracious enough to introduce me to another volunteer.
At 5:00 we’re ready to practice our Polynesian Dance. We weren’t lucky this time. The gym was not available because they’re practicing a fashion show. So the 3 dance aficionados, Judy, Connie and myself weren’t able to do our wiggle.
Returned to KiiKii Motel and enjoyed a scrumptious dinner prepared by Rosie. Her cooking reminds me of our Filipino cuisine.
Mrs. Here, Tai’s Mom showed us how to make ei katu (flowers for the head). Unfortunately I’m not gifted when it comes to making intricate things. Elaine finished first and everybody passed the test but me. Teresa made 2. I barely finished my ei katu, but with the help of Mrs. Here, Tai and Tai’s niece Crystal. They made my night. I’m grateful for the lovely ei katu that Tai’s Mom gave me. That was the best thing that happened.
These last few days are almost like a dream and I shall remember them always and leaving memories behind; meeting all of you, your patience, your kindness made my short stay in The Cook Islands unforgettable. It breaks my heart to think that I’ll be leaving soon.
A summation of the important events that climaxed my Global Volunteer work. The first country I visited was Istanbul, Turkey. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. In Istanbul you find a market they call the Bazaar. Here you find anything you want. You can haggle with the sales person. In Ephesus, an island in Turkey which is 2 hours flight, you’ll find a chapel of the Blessed Virgin during the last days of her life.
Xi-an, China. The museum, Terra cotta, in Xi-an where thousands of soldiers fought during the war and they are all in the military garb preserved and in the catacomb. This museum is considered the Ninth Wonder of the World. Also as my side trip, I traveled to Shanghai and spent a week to relax after my mission. Visited their stock market and the shopping centre. Shanghai is considered the Paris of China. The women are fashionable and modern as compared to the other cities in China.
Quito, Ecuador. This city is near the equator. I would not have known that the earth isn’t round. The earth bulges because of the heat. This is what I’ve learned during my travel in Ecuador. I really wanted to visit such places as the Galapagos Island and Machu Pichu but you need reservations ahead of time.
Siealce, Warsaw, Poland. In my side trip I visited Auschwitz, which is now a museum. This is where millions of people were slaughtered, burned in the crematorium. These are reminders of what can happen when human beings lose touch with individuals. Basic human being is the inability to bear the sight of another suffering. I for one, couldn’t bear the sight. I also visited St. Mary Church in Krakow where Pope Paul II first officiated his mass as a bishop. Pope Paul II was born in Krakow but we weren’t able to visit his birthplace because it was several hundred miles from the city.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands. I consider this place the Paradise of the South Pacific not only for its beauty but also for its people.

Thought for the Day:
Live in the moment!!