Sitting in a hotel lobby in Brisbane, Solomon Islands already seems a long way away. This week in the Solomons was as busy as our first week.
On Monday, we went in to St Nicholas school. We toured the classrooms and were encouraged to see many of the teachers carrying out the activities we had shared with them in the training. This was enabling the children to practise their English whilst having fun. The teachers were making good use of the space they had, including taking some of their lessons into the school hall. We were able to join in and assist, answering any questions.
On Tuesday, at Norman Palmer school, we were pleased once again to see many of the teachers using the planning format we had given them and showing that they had already been practising many of the games and activities with their children. The children in Grades 3 and 4 were very grateful to receive the loom band bracelets that had been made for them by some of the children from Tipton and Feniton Primary schools.
At our final evaluation session on the Wednesday, the teachers were able to reflect on what they had learned and share action plans together across both schools. It is hoped in the coming year that opportunities will be provided for further school based workshops and joint ACoM training. The teachers in Honiara were also excited at the prospect of the potential opportunity for a chosen few to visit the UK as a reciprocal visit.
Monday and Tuesday were the hottest days we had experienced since we arrived in Honiara, so it was a real treat to be invited to have afternoon tea with the British High Commissioner in his air conditioned home. It was interesting to share our own observations with him and to learn more about the background of the Solomon culture from him, as well as hearing some of his insights into the islands and their people.
Shortly after returning from this visit, we were picked up by the Archbishop of Solomon Islands’ driver, to take us for a lovely meal with the Archbishop and his wife. He is an incredibly gracious and gentle man and we enjoyed our evening getting to know both him and his wife better, hearing a little of their plans for after his retirement next year. It was also reassuring for him to tell us as he drove out of the car park to take us home after the meal that he ‘always drives slowly at night’…until he added ‘because I’m short sighted’!!
A big thank you to Norman Palmer School, who invited us out for a lovely meal to mark our last night in Solomons. There was certainly no shortage of food and drink to be ploughed through. It was nice to be able to socialise with those who had helped to organise our trip from the Solomons’ end. We enjoyed sharing our experiences from our visit and talking about how our partnership may develop in the future.
This morning saw our final farewell at Norman Palmer School. The service was filled with song and we were able to exchange gifts and share our gratitude for the time we had spent in Solomon Islands and the hospitality we had been shown. After the service, we were given a tour of the new school building…much progress has been made since Colin was there for the ground breaking ceremony last year.
We were driven to the airport after this and arrived in plenty of time but, true to our experience of the last 10 days, the plane left on ‘Solomon time’…an hour late! Now we’re on our way home, ready to hand the baton on…
Amanda, Ruth and Ruth