Sunday, December 11, 2005

My last Bomana night

Posted by Picasathere will never be another verandah quite like this one

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Incredible - first time to be able to post in over a week!! Just back-filling stories about the last week or so...

Will make my final post tomorrow (if I can) - but for now, about to go and enjoy the peace of my last Bomana night...

disco wantaim ol tisa

Last night was our much-anticipated staff night out, with a big bunch of us teachers bundling into the little red bus (which Sister had amazingly allowed us to take out for a last party) and hitting Pondo for a final dance.

On the dance floor ALL night - not allowed to sit down because "you wanted to dance, so you cannot escape - you must dance!" - think I danced with everyone in the place - but Pia came a very close second to me there - she was on fire last night!!! (Sitting next to me now laughing and laughing - "Yah, I cannot imagine that this man just brought himself in the midst of us and I had to feel sorry for him. Yah, I really enjoyed myself!")

Mipela givim stret - planti das ikirup!

(we really gave it - lots of dust came up - ie we really enjoyed ourselves!)

the shark and the dolphin - last night in Bomana Posted by Picasa

Last Tour of Duty

Just came back from my very own private concert, with the girls having a talent quest in my honour for my last night of duty. Lots of singing and strumming in groups and by individuals, and a fairly impromptu play too – each of course with their special ‘dedix’ to Ms C – last night for them too and everyone obviously getting into the sentimental swing of things. Nice – especially when they sang their favourite songs all together at the end, asking for requests, and being disappointed when I knocked back the offer to perform myself! Did join them in the chorus of what is now officially my anthem song though – meri lewa (my darling). How they all know it’s my favourite I’m not too sure (though I bet the two Andrew’s girls feature highly in that piece of gossip) but they played it for me at the firehouse, and now tonight was the 50-voice-strong a capella version – including call outs and vocal guitar – love it!

Lady Andrew and I - Monday morning, and looking a bit worse for wear! Posted by Picasa

Picnic in the park

posing with the rok rok Posted by Picasa

bikpela weekend

Another crazy weekend, full of action – packing everything I can into these last days and going a little wild with the last of my freedom here in POM. Out to Ozzies’s Bar on Friday night to catch up with my English mate and see a great jazz band – Freddy who won Ice Discovered (PNG’s very own Idol) proving to be much better live and with the help of a great band, than solo and on TV. An interesting night indeed. Met a cute guy from Mauritius who turned out to be a musician with a gig on the next night (big concert at the Country Club), and so Saturday afternoon I wrangled favours from Josepha and Wailoni and organized a lift into town so I could take up the offer of a ticket to the gig, and meet up with Island Baby and her friends there too. That arvo I went swimming with Mrs P at Gateway, recovering from the night before and preparing for the night ahead.

It was the girls’ last firehouse, and I’d promised them and Doris that I wouldn’t miss it – and it was also Sr St Francis’s Feast Day and in the afternoon Sr Dominica came over to invite me to have a celebration dinner with them. So Saturday night was certainly an interesting mix: dinner at the convent, where Sr Angela managed to set the scene for the rest of the evening by pouring out the wine and sending me onto the girls’ dance party already tipsy; dragging various teachers onto the dance floor and really giving it with Mrs Andrew and the girls all night at Firehouse; then being dropped at the Country Club by Josepha, Pia and Wailoni. There I met up with IslandBaby and her mates, and also my friend the guitarist who turned out to be playing with the ‘star’ of the evening, Justin Wellington. A good concert, although the place seemed nowhere near as crowded as when we had our fundraising. But K had got us passes to the ‘exclusive’ section upstairs (it was NauFM’s birthday celebration and she clearly had contacts!) so it was fun watching everyone from up above. Around midnight though they wanted to move on, so after a minor dilemma about whether to go on with them or stay with my musician, I arranged to meet up with him later and headed off with the girls to Lamana, where we caught up with a whole new bunch of people and did the rounds for the next couple of hours. Too much smoke in that place, and too much to drink, but a bloody good night with almost too many choices – Islands-girl ran into an old mate who was there with a bucks party, and there was one lovely young pilot… Think I made the right choice though – friend for life wins over friend for a night (even if very cute), and I’ll definitely be keeping up with this IslandBaby long after Sunday when I fly out of here. But I’m also blaming her for my very tired state on Sunday at the Gardens picnic with my girls - spent most of the afternoon propping up my head on my hands and trying to keep my eyes open. Finally drove home at 4.30, after the parents as well as the girls were telling me that I needed to go home to bed! Big, big weekend. Really going to miss this place.

Mville girls forever! Posted by Picasa

at the gardens with my girls Posted by Picasa

Graduation Day

Friday was the Grade 10 and 12 Graduation Ceremony. The teachers had been working on decorations all week, and the hall looked just beautiful – like something out of a magazine, as Mrs Bobone said today. The Grade 9s and 11s had been practicing dancing all week, as had the choir – everything was ready for a lovely day. And it was. I thought I’d be crying all day, but actually it was just nice to see all my girls again, and they were too excited for me to get sad.

I’d spent all hours of the night before finishing writing the cards I’d bought for each of the girls in my 2 classes - I wanted to give them something to say goodbye, so I’d ordered a whole stack of Aboriginal artwork cards from Community Aid Abroad and nearly destroyed my fingers and wrist writing messages to them all (90 card in a couple of nights!) – but I’m so glad I did because they were really thrilled to read them, and I had so many girls come up to say thanks – and they all had the little koala/kanga keychains I’d bought around their necks or on their bilums – so that was another good move. Glad I thought ahead last time I was in Oz. And I made business cards with my contact details in Sydney, so I hope I get lots of letters – and maybe even a visitor or two.

The school didn’t have their results ready yet – there’s been wide-spread cheating in the national exams throughout the NCD, and so the exam board had to cancel the English and Maths exam results and just work from internal assessment marks (incredible to think that kids could get hold of the papers before they were set, but apparently they did, and paid uni students to tell them the correct answers) – and that meant that certificates were not ready yet, and the students couldn’t receive these much-anticipated results. So much hangs on these marks, because they can’t get into Grade 11 unless they get Upper Passes or above – and even then there’s very limited places. So they were very disappointed to find out that they couldn’t get their results.

But actually, I was not so sad about that because Graduation Day is meant to be a celebration of what they’ve achieved – and last year it was awful to see the reactions on the faces of the girls who opened their envelopes only to realise that that was it for them – they didn’t get good enough marks to get into the next level. And I know that will be the case for some of my girls, so I was relieved to know they could enjoy their day without it being spoilt by seeing a pass in maths or science instead of a distinction or credit.

However, we did get a printout of the scores to date – it’s possible they may change, so we don’t want the girls to rely on them too heavily – and I was thrilled to see that between them my two English classes managed to score 30 Distinctions (ie were in the top 5% in the country) – exactly the number I had targeted! Not only that, but out of the 43 girls in my Purple class, 19 got Ds, 21 got Credits and only 3 got Upper Passes! Wow, I was stoked to see some of those girls with C’s – they’ve come so far and I know they will be overjoyed to see their hard work being paid off. Many of them will be dropping in to school tomorrow to get their results, which apparently we can give them then, so it will be wonderful to see their faces light up.

But back to the ceremony itself – it was a nice one (if hot), with a great guest speaker – Dr Mary Ponifasio, who is a cancer specialist and an ex-M’ville girl – very inspiring for these girls to have such a successful ex-student come and speak to them. The opening procession was a Cook Islands dance which was amazing – I got some video footage of those girls and their hips – man, can they shake it! Then there were some other dances, a couple of songs (including a new Marianville song, sung by the choir and led by one of the teachers who taught it to them – beautiful) and the final recessional dance by the Manus group and their drums – again, incredible music and movements.

I thought I’d cry in the school song, but it was performed by the school band (complete with new drum kit, electric guitar and keyboard) and so totally jazzed up it was not at all tear-jerking, as it is when sung a cappella. The band also played the national anthem, and I’m sure I got into trouble with Jasmine Andrew because in the program I’d printed the inclusive version of the words – not just to annoy her (although I knew it would!) but because it’s ridiculous for a girls school to be singing ‘oh arise all you sons of this land’. I’d warned the staff I’d be typing the ‘sons and daughters’ version, and they were happy enough – and amused by my recount of my argument with that little neighbour of mine about the words, and this act of revenge on my part – she could make them sing the old version, but buggered if I was going to put it on the program!

I got to present my class with their (fake) certificates, and that was lovely – a nice tradition we started last year, for the class patron to be the one to give them to their class – and again, it prevented me from tearing up because I was so focused on each girl and then smiling for their many cameras. It wasn’t until afterwards, when the girls started finding me to say thanks and to bilas me with necklaces and bilums that things got emotional - there were a few times when I nearly lost it then, but mostly it was just a happy day, full of celebration and not quite goodbye yet.


Gabrielle’s on heat again, according to Pia. The other night when I was in town, she brought her boyfriend home, and Pia had to tell her that this wasn’t a hotel where she could bring all her friends over to eat – that she had better start behaving herself and stop bringing her boyfriends home because they weren’t welcome. That’s telling her!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

running out of time

no time, no time, no time....

phone lines are permanently down, and I'm running out of days...

Monday, December 05, 2005

out of reach

I've said it here before, and I'll say it again - bloody telikom!!!!!! Phone line's been out for days and no sign of recovery - so frustrating when i've got so many things to organise and stuff to do in the few days I have left here. This is just a short whine while I'm checking emails in Sister's office, so you know if you've been trying to get through to me why there's no response. There seems to be a very brief period of crackle in the late arvo, but other than that it's the school phone or nothing.

So much to report too!!! NO time now - will post stories about the graduation and weekend at a later date...

6 days to go. I don't want to leave!!!!!