We spent two days visiting the school in Yalobi village. Children come here from all four villages on Waya island. Because of the distance between villages (and, oh, probably something about the mountains between them), they begin boarding here at age 6. With an enrollment of 150, it nearly doubles the size of the village. Students continuing their education after grade 8 board at the high school on Naviti island, a few hours by boat to the north of Waya.
The first classroom we poked our heads into was fourth grade. We were warmly welcomed by Mr. Koroi, who helped us meet the head teacher and learn what we could do to contribute. For the next two days, we spent half an hour to a couple of hours each in a classroom, helping with English classes and sharing some science lessons.
Totem carries a microscope and prepared slides from a couple of kingdoms on board. The school only has hand-held lenses, so it’s fun to be able to give them the opportunity to look through a much higher powered microscope. For some, simply learning how to look is the experience: closing first one eye, then the other, then straining to see what’s on the slide. Others get it right away, and you see them linger to look around and see as much as they can. all radiate interest and excitement. The looks on their faces are the very real gift we receive.
With help from the teacher, we explain what’s visible. Most of the slides are subject material like cellular plant structure, or thin cross sections of animal tissue. Outside the context of a curriculum, it might not seem that useful for the children to look at. I can’t help but remember, though, what Niall’s fantastic kindergarten teacher- Mr. Hoffman- told us once upon a time. “One of the best things you can do is to give your children experiences.” Arguably, we’ve internalized that! But for these children, that’s the message that makes sense to me. This is an experience, something they can remember, something that in accumulation with other experiences can make a difference in their lives.
school boys, Yalobi village
This slit drum in the central field is used for calling students