Shiver me timbers!

A hive of activity today: the group have got stuck into painting the restaurant, consolidating the containers etc. and two of the girls – Penny and Megan – volunteered to come into my Year 2 ESOL class. Due entirely to the arrival of the group and totally not attributable in any way to lethargy on my part, I didn’t have a lot prepared, but decided to do dictation and chose “The Princess and the Pea”, modified to the “Princess and the Groundnut”, since peas seem to be unknown out here. My two classroom assistants were very helpful with the dictation, going round and helping with spelling etc. We had a brief word chain game and spent a while comparing cultures: multiple wives, extended families etc., which I think was quite interesting to the two visitors. One of the girls in the class is adopted, so one of our girls in a similar position told her about her own experience. It’s always good to see both groups realising that despite obvious differences there is much more in common.

There has been something of a surprise for me: I was to be teaching until Friday when the scheduled end of term was to take place, but things have taken an unexpected turn. This morning, we were told that the school is to close after classes on Tuesday: the reason for this is the forthcoming election. Most of the students at the PIA are old enough to vote, but to do so they need to be at their home address and many of them are staying with relatives during the week to allow them to attend classes. So they need Wednesday to return to their home compound. Fast on this news of an very long weekend came the news that Mr Federa announced that Tuesday is to be a tidying day, so all students are expected to turn up in order to pick up rubbish and generally tidy. Quite apart from the fact that my teaching here is curtailed, this is good as it means I can join the group for the various painting etc. works that are to take place here.

Another surprise was today’s visit to the beach. Classes finished as usual at two and the group stopped work at lunchtime, so I was able to join them for the trip. The waves were bigger than usual and great fun: the cause was a strongish wind on the beach and several of the kids (and staff) felt distinctly chilly after a swim: one girl was sitting with a towel round her, teeth chattering. It’s definitely the coolest it’s been in all my visits here, all the more ironic as I gather Inverness is still in glorious weather. It’s not exactly cold, but in the low twenties as opposed to the high twenties / low thirties, it certainly feels cool. Pat says she had to wrap a towel round her thin sleeping bag to avoid feeling cold in bed last night. I don’t suppose this chilly weather will continue for long – at least I hope it doesn’t – but it is a shock to the system after such a hot spell until a few days ago. At least it won’t be too hot for painting!

The staff have opted out of tonight’s games evening, which the IRA kids are organising, though I can hear  tediously repetitive Gambian Na-na-na-nah! singing.


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