2009-10-10: World Teacher Day

Today is World Teacher’s Day. Nobody is afraid of a celebration
around here so of course a festivity was called to order in
acknowledgement of this fine day. The crowd was light as only the
teachers, their immediate family and a few others attended. Instead
of at the traditional gathering spot for feasts, the falekaupule, this
celebration was instead held along the beach. As we approached we saw
several torches lit and mats laid out on the sand. It was a very
welcoming venue especially with the nice ocean breeze cooling things
off from yet another hot and dry day. The teachers had made a lovo
and prepared a bountiful feast. After the prayer from the pastor we
all dug in to great smoked dalo, dalo leaves, fish, and several other
tasty dishes. The children played games in the background as we
listened to amplified music pound our eardrums.

Master Leone, one of the teachers we’ve befriended and a very well
spoken Fijian, likes to MC events in style. Style meaning very loud
music and a lively
microphone. Although the area was quite small and only a handful of
people were in attendance, he still felt the need to break out the
amps, mic, speaker stands, and woofers.

After the feasting he announced it was game time. The games consisted
of fishing for prizes from a large bucket using a wooden stick with a
line and hook and throwing ping pong balls against a wooden sign post
with four small holes carved from its face.

The fishing game made me somewhat apprehensive as some of the ‘fish’,
which where mainly snack chips wrapped in newspaper, wouldn’t freely
relieve themselves from the bucket and thus caused tension on the
homemade fishing rig. This in turn sent the unsuccessful barbed metal
hook flying through the air dangerously close to the huddle of
children gathered around the bucket. With safety and security always
at the forefront of my mind I advised Kelly we had better increase our
zone of protection and mosey away from the projectile fish hook.
Thankfully all the prized where retrieved without incident and we were
able to move on to the next exciting event.

The purpose of the ping pong throwing game was to toss the pong
through one of the four holes on the board. The only problem was the
holes were almost the same size as the pong balls. The other problem
was it was so dark it was hard to tell an air ball from a bulls-eye.
Regardless, much enthusiasm erupted from the children as they
purchased chances to toss the ball through the tiny holes. Each toss
was worth 5 cents and the four holes were marked 50 cents, one dollar,
two dollars, and three dollars. I did think it curious that each hole
was basically the same size. The tossing began and lasted for a good
thirty minutes. I was bored after the first throw and had no idea how
such a simple and amazingly difficult game was keeping these kids
attention for so long. If such a game where attempted in the states
the kids would immediately begin lobbying for bigger holes, a
backstop, or cheaper throw rates.

After the kids had their go the adults were allowed in the fun. Of
course Kelly and I had to go first. We each unsuccessfully tossed our
allotment and then made way for the others. Samalu and the pastor
each had a zinger with the rest only connecting with the hard wood.
The good food and novelty of the experience made for an enjoyable
evening. We thanked the hosts and made our way home under an
unbelievably bright explosion of stars in the clear night sky.

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