Saturday, June 25, 2011

More Memories continued

I remember the school fees for a year in those days running as high as 150 Leones - which for many families was a good portion of a year's earnings. Students at HRSS - Kenema were like students anywhere. But one thing I remember is how very happy they seemed, troubled mainly by perhaps an occasional bout of malaria, but for the most part fun-loving, inquisitive, and enjoyable to teach. I taught general science using the syllabus from the Sierra Leone department of education, but found it stifling and too oriented to the United Kingdom. As a result I added additional parts of my own design, dealing with the local flora and fauna, and frequently laced with the names that they all knew. Our school garden which I initiated was made up of both local produce and this was harvested by some of the class. I remember one of the students, Sabina Tucker, was especially hard working in this regard. Sabina was a better than average student, and a wonderful person. Friendly, inquisitive, and with a wonderful smile and sense of humor, she wanted to know about us (Susan and I), and our families, what it was like where we lived, and was puzzled by what let us leave our homes to come teach so far from our families. Sabina was one of the most enthusiastic about the school garden. There were others as well.
I remember many of the names of our students from that time, but not all. Our time spent in a typical school day was about 5 hours - then the students would be dismissed to go back to their homes in Kenema where they either lived or were boarding. It was rare to see them in Town as most went home to do chores. The netball team did practice a few times a week after school hours. On weekends we would travel usually to Pujehun to play the HRSS-Pujehunteam. This was a several hour trip by school van to the Southern Province where my teams (both HRSS and the TTC) would play comparable Pujehun teams. I remember us being pretty successful in those years. And I remember the girls at our school on the netball team being competitive. Winning was important but losing was not a big deal. They seemed to have things in perspective. A trip to Pujehun might start at 8am - we'd arrive in Pujehun about mid-day, play the games and then return to Kenema by 6 pm. These were always friendly matches - and a cheer that I taught our team was always said at the end of the game. I do not remember where my cheer came from but the girl's seemed to love it and as they sung the cheer they would dance about - making the end both fun and festive. The cheer went: itsy - bitsy - wotten - dotten - bo bo - skiwotten dotten - bo bo skiwotten dotten - eh eh eh eh. They would go through this chant several times as they danced about on the netball pitch. It was such fun watching them take this cheer that I had somehow remembered from my youth, and put it together so beautifully. Anyway

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