Kate and Asim's Solomon Adventure

From the North Atlantic ... To the South Pacific! - Kate and Asim in the Solomon Islands!

Our first week in Honiara!

Day 1 - Stopover in Brisbane

After our 22 hr flight, as Dave had assured us, Father Gary Fagg was
there to meet us with sign board and all (I always wanted to be met off
a plane to one of those!) at the airport in Brisbane.

He
made us very welcome at his beautiful house and showed us to our room
for the night. He had 3 themed guest rooms - one was the ‘Solomon
Islands’, one was ‘Japan’ and ours was the one dedicated to ‘Papa New
Guinea’. After tea and chats about some of Gary’s experiences in SI we
retired to bed. Early next morning he accompanied us back to the
airport, we said our farewells, checked in and were on the plane to
Honiara!

Arrival in Honiara!

We were met off the plane by the Deputy High Commissioner Ray Davidson
(with another named placard!) and then Moffat Wasuka (Education
Secretary and our boss) was there to meet us after customs. He took us
in the Church Of Melanesia truck to our rest house, St Agnes Mothers
Union Transit where we have since been made very comfortable.

On our second day
here we attended a farewell lunch in honour of the COM carpenter.
Moffat made a speech to welcome us and then after several other
speeches made in honour of Jacob (the carpenter) and following a
delicious buffet lunch where we ate from the biggest fish we have ever
seen, we all sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Now Is The Hour To Say
Goodbye’ which reminded us of the lovely and emotional last few days we
spent in England saying goodbye to our wonderful friends and family.

The next day we
were picked up at 6:30am to be taken in a full truck to Selwyn College;
the most prestigious COM school in SI. We were given privileged seats
next to the driver in the front while everyone else was crammed into
the open top back. The road was long, broken and bumpy. We drove over
some very dodgy wooden fords and passed some very beautiful villages
where young children played naked behind trees, washed pots in the
river and waved with smiling faces as we passed. The villages bore
signs declaring that they were ‘Weapons Free’.

We passed along the pilgrimage route to the place of birth of Inne Caporia – founder of The Melanesian Brother Hood.

When we finally arrived at Selwyn College the Ambassador of Taiwan
Republic Of China’s convoy had caught up behind us and some of the
students were at the gates ready to give him a traditional warriors'
WELKHAM.

Our visit to Selwyn College

Selwyn College is a large and picturesque sight next to an idyllic
beach. The school buildings are well designed and maintained. After
some light refreshments and introductions in the Library we were
escorted into the beautifully decorated, airy, assembly hall where we
were each welcomed with a garland of flowers.

Apart from prizes being given to deserving pupils the ceremony
consisted of speeches (including a particularly inspiring and humorous
one by the very charming Ambassador of Taiwan ROC!) and a number of
hymns were sung by the pupils. We were both completely blown away by
the beautiful voices and the disciplined nature of their singing.

We also had the
opportunity of meeting some of the staff and teachers at Selwyn
College. We got to exchange stories with Robin of the English
department who confirmed the desperate need for books – especially
enough of key texts so students can have a copy each. This lack is
however made up for by the enthusiasm of the teachers and he was very
excited that we had brought a copy of the DVD of ‘To Sir With Love’,
one of the syllabus texts – which we promised to lend him. The resource
problem was confirmed for us at the library, which is a beautifully
purpose built facility, but severely under-stocked. The books it does
have are also quite old and we re-iterate our appeal for books.

Please do get in
touch if you can provide books for the schools here and we will let you
know transportation arrangements. Click here for further details.

Moffat arranged for us to meet Julian and Georgina at the Curriculum
Development Centre in Honiara. This was very helpful as we saw the Form
Six syllabus that we will deliver. Julian was teaching at St.Stephens
for some years and he has established the Sixth form English there. He
gave us some valuable insider advice, including tips on how to manage
classes of upto 60 students!

Among
other subjects, Asim will be teaching Economics and Kate will be Head
of the English Department! We are both feeling daunted, inspired,
petrified, excited ... and a lot more!!!

Day 7 - Visit to Mrs. Jill and Mr. John at St.Nicholas High School

Another invaluable meeting was arranged by Moffat today - we went to
St.Nicholas High School in Honiara to meet with Mrs Jill, a teacher who
has taught in the Solomons for over 15 years and her experience has
included time at St. Stephens. As we arrived, the school was busy
preparing for their
Open Day, this coming Saturday. The Principal Christina, who we had met
at the Prize-Giving at Selwyn College, greeted us and we felt
privileged to watch the pupils rehearsing their songs.

Jill
then invited us to her house situated inside the school, a few feet
away from her form classroom. On the way we met her husband John at the
Computer Lab where we were briefed on the resourcing situation. We then
settled down on their veranda drinking Coffee (for the first time in a
week) and eating Coconut biscuits. Here we stayed for the next 6 hours,
whilst John and Jill shared their invaluable experience on teaching in
St. Stephens and the Solomon Islands. Our notepad is now full of useful
advice and guidance and we left with piles of notes and text books. We
really cannot thank Jill and John enough for their valuable time they
shared with us. They are truly an inspiring couple who we wish we could
take with us but they have served their time and are ready to retire
back to Australia. We can only hope to continue some of the good work
they have started.

For now we sign off, from a very rainy and tropical Honiara.


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