More Wishy, Less Washy

I showed off my TGS video to Mr Rick and Ms Angela and it was met with gratifying acclaim, though I doubt Spielberg et als have much to worry about. I may try to upload a low resolution version on Facebook so the world at large can marvel.

Today had its ups and downs. The first “up” is that next Monday is some sort of holiday, so I’ll have Thu-Mon free: definitely worth grabbing the opportunity of going to Kandy and the Hill Country generally. Another possible “up” – though it may prove to be a “down” as well – is that school closes for the Easter vacation on 24th March, giving me 10 days or so between then and my homeward flight. The 22nd is also a Poya Day for the Buddhists, so that’ll be a quiet week work-wise. I’ll need to plan how I’m going to pass those final days, bearing in mind I don’t want to spend the period travelling with all my luggage, but equally don’t fancy spending all the time in my room here. Much as I like Galle, I think I’ve exhausted most of its attractions. I’ve still to visit the Maritime Museum, but doubt if even the British Museum could fascinate me for 10 days, let alone the museum here!

The “down” was to discover that the laundry I visited yesterday wasn’t just closed for Sunday, but it’s permanently shut. The guy in the electrical store on the ground floor passed on this information but admitted he didn’t know of another laundry in Galle, so I had to do a massive handwash. I’d made up a good load by sticking everything I’ve worn since coming here – whether cleanish or not – in my rucksack on Saturday night, so even the cleaner stuff needed washing after being cooped up with the less savoury items for nigh on 36 hours. After discovering the washed-up laundry business, I went into the nearby House of Hidayath – grandly describing itself as a “hypermarket” (ha, ha, ha!) and bought a clean pair of shorts and a tee shirt, so I won’t need to teach naked tomorrow if the washing’s not dry.

I referred to the Easter vacation a paragraph or two back. Miss Angela, who is a Roman Catholic, explained that – rather as in The Gambia – everyone of any religion and none celebrates everyone else’s religious festivals. A few weeks ago, I mentioned different religions living peaceably together and a Christian friend in Inverness picked me up on that, referring to some examples of Christians being discriminated against and targeted in violent incidents. As we were on the topic, I asked Miss Angela about this sort of thing: she reckoned there is very little cross-cultural violence here. On the other hand, I know Protestants who have suggested to me that RCs aren’t really Christians anyway, so maybe they don’t count!

I’m calling her “Miss Angela” as that’s the title used in school, but she is a married woman in her mid 30s: the other day I met her young daughter, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, when she had some minor ailment and had to accompany her Mum to TGS rather than go to the Sacred Heart School as usual. Angela has been a useful source of general SL-related information: her English is good and, whilst she clearly speaks with a local accent (I of course have no accent), we have no communication problems. Both she and her husband have been professional programmers, which involved some travel, but married and started a family settling down here: he is the night time manager of a petrol station (I think), hence the daughter being brought to TGS until hubby could finish his shift and collect her.

Since I’m mentioning the staff, I must say how friendly they are. Whilst there are quite a few “international” teachers, there are also several local ones: one local I was speaking to today said she works in the playschool which takes children – and I quote – “from 2.5 to 3.5 years”. There are staff meetings from 1:45 to 3:00 on Mondays, which I’m not obliged to attend. I had wondered about attending today’s just for “fun”, not a term I’d usually apply to such meetings, but my laundry trip precluded that. Mr Rick’s wife Kris also works in the school, but I don’t know what she teaches. There is a well-equipped library, the IT room’s half dozen computers are reasonably up to date and everywhere is bright and airy. The grounds are large and full of fun things for wee kids to do: I’ve spotted a traditional boat well fixed into the ground for the kids to play on, a set of swings and climbing frame, a greenhouse glazed with empty plastic bottles (last time I saw one of these was in Glenurquhart High School, Drumnadrochit, who would seem to have more need for a greenhouse than out here!), lots of palm trees, colourful posters and so forth. One of these is made from a photo taken on “World Peace Day”, with the whole school standing forming a ban-the-bomb sign. I asked a wee kid about it and she explained they all had to turn to their neighbour and say “Peace”, before someone took the photo from an upstairs vantage point. She thought it had been great fun.

My English class today involved team-teaching with Mr Rick. The year 7 and 8s were writing newspaper articles about “Missing Teacher, Students Suspected”, then we continued reading the novel “Holes”. Rick uses any opportunity to stimulate discussion and we frequently went off chasing interesting hares that led into all sorts of topics. I do like that approach. With various IT classes, we did some more Scratch – a super and fun drag and drop introduction to programming from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (http://scratch.mit.edu), which I heartily recommend to anyone even if you don’t think programming is “your thing”, some meatier Visual Basic and a simple practical Word Processing exercise for some year 4 pupils.

I’ve just had to rush out and rescue my washing as the thunder has started and the rain can’t be far behind. With that piece of riveting news, I’ll draw to a close.

 

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