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.