Christmas Break and other Festivities

Hello again!

I have obviously been so busy enjoying my Christmas break that I have not had time to write a blog post. We finished term one of school on December 7th and we have a break up until January 4th, 2016. I have so many events and adventures to share with you, so here we go.

First of all, these next few things happened back in October/November but I never got a chance to write about them.

St. Vincent’s Independence Day

St. Vincent became an independent Caribbean Nation on October 27, 1979. That being said, they celebrated their 36th year of Independence this year. This is such a young nation, I sometimes forget. My school got into the spirit during the holiday with a Public Speaking event about independence and an assembly where they dressed up in SVG’s colors and danced, sang and even modeled.

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I got asked to be one of the judges during the Public Speaking Event.
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A few students from Grade 1 dressed up in their Independence outfits.
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The contestants in the “Best Independence Outfit” competition.

 

All Saints Day

St. Vincent celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st and 2nd. The community members head to the cemetery once it gets dark bringing with them candles, fireworks, music and friends and family. The locals call this event the “Light Up” because the idea is that the graves of their loved ones are lit up with candles. Family and friends gather around the lit up graves, sing, dance, chat, share a drink and even light off firecrackers. Many of the community members “bust bamboo” to make loud banging noises in celebration. Basically they stuff the bamboo chutes with gun powder, then light the powder on fire and the bamboo “busts” or makes a loud noise. This is a beautiful holiday as it is a celebration of life and a time to spend with lost loved ones.

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This is the grave of my host dad’s mother. All lit up with candles
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One of the more beautiful displays at the light up.
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This is the cemetery during the day.

Vincy Heat Football Game

A few PCVs and I were lucky enough to go to the World Cup Qualifier Game: St. Vincent vs. Guatemala. The whole country had a half day so that we could make it to the stadium in time for the game. Although not a lot of people were in attendance, it was still very enjoyable to watch St. Vincent’s National team play. We even got to go on the field afterwards.

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Watching the Game
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The Crew
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On the Field

End of 1st Term in School

The first term as a Literary teacher and Librarian at the Primary School in my community was challenging to say the least. I learned a lot and have grown somewhat accustomed to the daily happenings there. We just got a new principal a week before the last day of Term 1. So we have some changes coming our way. I have really fallen in love with the students at my school. They are very helpful, sometimes even TOO helpful. They write me sweet notes/letters. They make me smile. They have their challenging moments too, but those are the times that I find myself tested, and I learn something new about myself. Those are the moments that force me to become a better teacher, mentor, friend and volunteer. I get along well with the teachers at my school as well. Overall a solid Term 1, but I look forward to what will come during Term 2. I have done a diagnostic test on the students in Grade 1, 2 and 3, and pulled out the students who need extra help in literacy. This coming term I will be working with those students in smaller groups, using alternative and exciting ways to teach literacy. I have already made some games from scratch (scrabble, bingo, etc.) for me to use during this time. I hope that this will allow these children to gain a new sense of interest in literacy and make it a bit easier for them in the long run.

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The Super Students of the Month from Grade 1. They got to share a cake as a reward!
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Some of the older students sitting at the assembly.

Some of the Grade 5 students having fun in the library after exams.

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Sports day. The four houses (Yellow, Green, Red and Blue) compete against each other. 

Adventures During Break

Buccament Bay

We went to visit one of the other PCVs who lives on the other side of the island one day. She lives near a resort in Buccament Bay. We swam in the water at the man made beach and got some lunch. Although it was nice to get away, I have to admit I experienced a bit of “Reverse Culture Shock”. It has been a long time since I have seen so many white people, tourists, or anyone except PCVs and locals. I had a hard time comprehending where I was and if I was still on St. Vincent. The beach had fake white sand on it, and to be completely honest I thought it felt very weird and I did not like it. I prefer the gold/black sand beaches that we have on the rest of the island! Despite the shock, we had a nice time and enjoyed the day.

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Buccament Bay Resort beach.
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The baby goat I found outside!

Goodbye Lunch

In the past month, St. Vincent has lost 4 of its Peace Corps Volunteers. One was transferred to a different island, and the other three went back home for various reasons. We started with 14 volunteers in August in St. Vincent and now we are down to a measly 10 volunteers. I hope that when the next set of volunteers come to the EC, St. Vincent will get more than the normal amount of volunteers (8). This would hopefully make up for our recent losses. That being said, most of the volunteers had a goodbye lunch for the volunteers who were leaving the island. It was a nice way to spend time together, show appreciation, and chat about what the future might bring for them.

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Most of the Volunteers at the goodbye lunch.

 

La Soufriere Volcano

We took the opportunity to hike the active volcano, La Soufriere, that lies in the north of the island of St. Vincent. This hike was nowhere near as difficult as hiking the Pitons that are located in St. Lucia, however it was still a challenging hike. We hiked through jungle and then gravel/rocky trails to get to the top of the crater. From that point we turned and headed around the edge of the crater for a bit to get to a rope. A few of us rappelled down the steep cliff into the crater of the volcano. There is a dome in the center from when the volcano erupted last and the lava settled. We walked around the dome for a bit and reached the little lake that lies inside the crater. After that we climbed back up out of the crater and headed back down. It was a beautiful hike and a time well spent with friends. I was definitely sore the next day..

Panoramas and view from the edge of the crater.

Selfies for days.

Climbing into/out of the crater.

Richmond Vale

We spent a few days at Richmond Vale Academy on the North Leeward side of the Island. It is located just at the base of La Soufriere Volcano. Very relaxing and beautiful place!

South Rivers

We got to visit another PCV in his community for the day. We chopped open coconuts with a cultass (machete), played softball with a cutlass and some fallen fruit, went to the local river and went on a hike to a waterfall.

 

Christmas in St. Vincent

9 Mornings

There is a Christmas Tradition in St. Vincent called 9 Mornings. Each morning for 9 mornings leading up to Christmas day, different communities around the island have a 9 mornings celebration. Community members wake up at 4 a.m. and gather for singing, music, competitions, and other activities. These festivities go on until 6 or 6:30 a.m.. It is a great way to start the morning during the holiday season. I enjoyed experiencing a new cultural tradition here in St. Vincent for Christmas.

Christmas Day

A few PCVs and I spent christmas with another teacher at my school. She invited us over for a delicious Christmas meal at her home! We met her son, her uncle and her sweet dogs. We ate, chatted, laughed and enjoyed each others company. It was great to spend christmas with locals and see how Vincentians celebrate the holidays. I even put Christmas lights up on my house!

 

Puppy

I got a puppy for Christmas! Her name is Bailey.. Get ready for an overload of cute puppy pictures.

 

That is all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Shelby

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