Friday, May 27, 2005

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart feast day

The New Guinea Islands girls who led the Bible procession in our Mass this morning (oh yeah, and me!). It was our Feast Day today, for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and we had a big celebration mass in the morning. I love the way they mix traditional PNG dances with the Catholic ceremony here. The girls dance the Priest down the aisle, have the processions for the Bible and the Sacraments, and then close the service, dancing and singing everything back out again. It's a pretty wild mix, and you can see how close the mysticism of the religious symbols is to traditional beliefs in magic. Posted by Hello

The girls dancing and singing as they bring the Bible (in the canoe) down to the altar (can you see the fluro pink edging, instead of the traditional gold - courtesy of someone's highlighter in RE class, no doubt!) Posted by Hello

Dance off

Well, in addition to the Mass in the morning for Our Lady, we spent the rest of the day celebrating, with games and dancing and a free hotdog and icecream lunch.

A day off is incredibly rare for these girls – and a day off, at school, just mucking around- shouting and laughing and making as much noise as they like without getting in trouble -well it’s almost unheard of! It was so much fun – the girls were supposed to be playing games, and they did for a while, but (as it did last year too) it turned into one big dance off, with the girls all grouping in their classes around the grass and under the tress, and basically dancing for the next couple of hours. They had so much fun, and they were so funny. They love the gangsta rap, RNB, and dance music – “party hard” they call it – but reggae is probably the most popular, and the local Pacific music which is really bouncy, eighties-sounding stuff with a lot of islander sounds and reggae mixed in. They really talk each other up too, and some of them are SUCH show offs – it’s pretty common that one or two girls will dance in front of their class, grandstanding to the crowd, hands in the air, legs bent almost double, shaking it “to the max” (“really giving it”), often sandwiching each other shamelessly. The girls of course respond by cheering and yelling and screaming, all the encouragement they need. I got a bit of video of them, but nothing beats watching the real thing – they have so much bloody confidence!! I don’t know where they get it from but I’m so jealous!!

I was sitting with my class, watching them and the Yellows who were about 10m away, and it had been going on for about an hour, with dedications from the DJs for each class, when finally one of those Yellow girls – Marjellah, the most outrageous of the lot, shaking and gyrating all over the place, started dancing her way over to us, and clearly, straight to me, amid lots of cheers from girls who were just waiting for me to get up and join her. I was so shy but she dragged me up and back to her class, where of course I had to try and dance with them, with every single girl in the place watching me because she’d made such a production out of it! Oh god I was so self-conscious because everyone was yelling and cheering and girls from my class even pulled out cameras, but I knew I had to try, so I was part of the big circle, and being sandwiched by girls as they tried to get me to shake it! Can you imagine?!! Me, who has always hated dancing because I’m so self-conscious!! I was literally shaking because I was so nervous, but at the same time, I have to admit, I was having a bloody good time. These girls are so funny, and it is fun to be part of it – and I knew she’d do it sometime that day because in her journal she’d complained that I didn’t dance with her and her class at the firehouse last Saturday night, that I only danced with the Purples. I’d written back that I didn’t see them, and I only danced with the Purple girls coz they dragged me up, and that’s the only way I’d get on the dance floor – so I guess I was asking for it, huh?! Just didn’t expect it to be in broad daylight, as the centre of the whole school’s attention!

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the wild 10 Yellow girls

So of course that meant I had to be dragged up by Purple later on. And actually, later in the day when the dancing moved to the hall, I danced with a whole bunch of others because we were all squished in and other teachers were up dancing too. So it was fun. I think once I forget about being shy I actually really like it, but it’s losing that self-consciousness that’s so hard! I never know what to do with my hands!

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10 Purple and me (where's Wally?)

Oh man, I just went out to talk to Pia for a second, and told her I was writing about today, and just said about being so shy when Marjellah dragged me out, and Pia said “oh yes, every eye was on you. Even the teachers turned around to watch”. Talk about shaking – that made me start again!! She’s not exactly great with tact, our Pia, but at least she didn’t tell me everyone was laughing at me!

My Gorgeous God-daughter

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Happy Birthday Juliet!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tears all round

Well it was quite a big week in English this week. I had set up for my two classes to work on planning and presenting speeches, both as a break from all the writing we’ve been doing in preparation for the Written Expression exam (only about 4 weeks away now –gulp!), and also as a sneaky was of preparing for the personal writing piece that will be part of that exam. I gave the girls 3 topics to choose from:

1. My Role Model
2. My ambitions for the future
3. If I were PM for the day…

I wrote up the lists of names, in the order they were to present, and it went a lot faster than we thought – we got through most of them in the first double period, which gave the girls who thought they’d have more time a real fright! The speeches, even if short, were really interesting. It was also interesting to see who chose what to talk about. Lots of ideas about the future and their careers (I’m apparently producing a lot of air hostesses, lawyers and accountants – and even the first female Prime Minister of PNG!), and a few pretending to be PM, drawing their ideas from a lot of the work we’ve done recently on the various problems of Port Moresby

But the really amazing ones were the role model speeches. Almost all of them chose to talk about their mum or dad, and they were very emotional. In Purple especially, most girls had to stop speaking at one point because they were so upset (a lot talking about their mums raising them single-handedly, and the hardships they have been through), and a few girls had everyone in tears. We actually had to stop the lesson for 10 minutes at one point and let everyone go and wash their faces and calm down because one girl had every single person in the room crying their eyes out as she talked about her dad, who died 7 years ago. I don’t know how she got through her speech, but she did, crying almost the whole way though it, and with most girls with their head in their hands, and one girl sobbing her heart out just behind me because she lost her dad last year. God, it was incredible – I’ve never been in a lesson like it, either as student or a teacher, and was almost scared at one point, thinking ‘What have I done here?! What do I do now?’ But it was a really honest and touching and amazing experience to go through with them, and the girl who had presented the speech sat down and spoke again, saying she was sorry she’d made everyone cry but she wanted to let others know how important it was to tell your parents now how much you care about them because you don’t know how much time you have left with them. She also said that she was really glad she’d been able to talk about it – that our class was so friendly and caring and she felt like she was so happy and her marks had improved because the environment was so positive. So that was really nice, and brave of her – not only to speak about her dad, but to be so honest about her feelings and her reactions.

It was quite a double period.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Gutpela piksa

My 10 Purple girls. Their reaction: oh nice, yah! I agree. Posted by Hello

Hope I'm not breaching intellectual copywrite laws by pinching this photo idea from the AVI magazine, but Sister Angela wanted a nice cover for a new school handbook I'm helping her make, and I figured our bright orange and white uniforms would look pretty good in a heart shape. Plus, as an Our Lady of the Sacred Heart school, whose motto is "To show God's Love" this seemed rather appropriate. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Expression of the day

Pia and Morris, our next-door neighbour - this is the closest I've got to a smile out of him with the camera in my hand. You can see he's being cheeky, trying to hide it, but there's a hint of it around the mouth and eyes.

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What I loved about this moment, however, was Pia taking the chance to teach me my favourite pidgin expression to date: As Nating (sound it out - its a soft sss, and the 'a' sounds like 'u')- means naked!!

The Big Quest!

Another photo from the Bring and Buy - this is Luther, and two of my girls. Pretty cute, huh?

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Oh yeah, and good news about the Miss Marianville Quest - my class have officially raised over a grand! We passed the thousand kina mark today, and i think we deserve a pat on the back for that. Whether it will be enough to put us in the running for the all-important Miss Charity title, I don't know - but we've got another 2 weeks of fundraising to go, and I reckon we should aim to double that figure.

We'll be screening a video this weekend as our next big money maker, and I'm thinking that Miss Congeniality 2 might be a goer - not quite as appropriate as the original in these circumstances, but will no doubt give the contestants a few grooming and gliding tips. They're currently having catwalk lessons a few afternoons a week!!! I kid you not - this place is hilarious! I just listened to a 15-minute monolgue this afternoon by a priest Pia and I visited about the difference between Miss World and Miss Universe, and the answers India's 2 contenders gave in 1994 and why one was chosen over the other, and the diamond-studded gown one rented from a prince in Saudi Arabia, and how much it cost to hire, and the fact that afterwards he gave it to her as a gift... and so on and so on. Whoever would have guessed beauty pageants would assume such an important role in my life (and in others) over here in PNG?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bring and Buy

Some of the 10 Purple girls at our class Bring and Buy fundraising day today. We had it at Roberta's house in town, and over 25 girls came, some with their parents and families, to raise money for our Miss Marianville contestant (Eileen, sitting in the front, on the right). We made over K350 today, including K60 from Mr Mala's chook raffles, so we were pretty happy with how it all went, although next time we hope to get all 45 girls there. It was fun to catch up with the girls in a more informal setting, and to meet some more of their parents and families.

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Mums and daughters buying up big

Pia helped me figure out how to say 'thanks for coming and for all your hard work, and I'm really pleased to meet you all' in pidgin, so I got a big cheer for being able to do that! And Mrs Norrie took me with her down to Koki market, down the road, so I got to buy my kulau myself, and catch a PMV back!! Very exciting. A busy but fun day. And the best bit of all - coming home to find that OUR TELEPHONE IS WORKING AGAIN!!!! YAY!!!!!! Posted by Hello

Some of the girls, trying to avoid their parents and teacher!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bloody Telikom!

Off the air...

For three weeks now our phone lines have been almost completely buggered, just in case you’re wondering why this blog has stayed so inert for so long. I’m typing up a quick blog while in Sister Angela’s office, hoping to get it on the site while I’m just checking emails. It ABSOLUTELY SUCKS not having contact with the outside world and if it lasts much longer I think I’ll go crazy. So, apologies if I’m not replying to emails very promptly or personally – but keep sending them, so when I do get a chance to hook up to Sr A’s computer I can at least read…