Let me introduce you to Global Volunteer’s Vaca 139. Why “Vaca”? Because it is the Maori word for boat, and it serves as a reminder that we are all in the same boat–we’re in this together.
The 139 is self explanatory: we are the 139th group of Global Volunteers to serve in Rarotonga. Of Vaca 139’s ten volunteers, six have been here before, which speaks volumes about this assignment. Half of the group will be staying for two weeks. I am one of the five that opted for three weeks.
So what were we going to do during our stay? Larry and Sally split their time between the prison and the high school. When she was not in jail, Sally was a one woman “beautifier”, sprucing up the exterior of Tereora College. She was leaving HER mark in flowers, while Larry, a former math teacher, gave his students practical skills, such as learning how to calculate nutritional values and convert celsius to fahrenheit.
Robyn and Dave worked in Titikavaka College. Bud, an Ob/Gyn, returned to the hospital to offer his assistance, and Lynda worked with the Ministry of Education, developing plans for special needs children.
Willy and Niki, Patrick and I were delighted to be assigned to an elementary school. Papa Patrick, an artist from Florida, very thoughtfully brought along a suitcase full of watercolors and paper. He spent the first two of the three weeks at the school, helping the children make cards; the last week he taught disabled adults at the Creative Center with Lynda.
Uncle Willy worked with the third graders during class time.
Once the drums started beating (yes, that’s right–there are no bells, there are drums that mark the start and finish of school periods) he was out in the field, playing soccer with boys of ALL ages, regardless of the heat and humidity.
If you would like a more vivid drumming experience, Just click on this YouTube link.
My first week was spent helping out in the office. Their secretary had abruptly quit right before we arrived, leaving a mountain of unfinished paperwork. A basic principle of Global Volunteers is that you do whatever you are asked to do, so I got busy copying, doing excel spreadsheets, data entry, and report cards. James figured that my years in the insurance industry would mean I was good at office work. I didn’t bother to tell him that wasn’t quite what I did, and once I left the world of paid employment, I said goodbye to PCs to become an Apple devotee. I was shocked at how much windows and excel had changed in just a couple of years! Fortunately, speed was not important, and I was able to figure it out–although the copy machine WAS a bit of a struggle.
The best part of my assignment was I shared the principal’s office, so I got to know this warm, gracious, interesting woman. Because she had recently married, she generously shared her wedding photos and the stories about people in them, her extended family.
Of course, I was able to take several breaks during the day to play and read with the children, who LOVED to have their photos taken, AND to take photos. Here are a few schoolyard shots.
Stay tuned for the next post–the coronation!