ST. LUCIANS’ DIFFERENCES IN ACHIEVEMENT

We began at the Global Volunteers Resource Room at JJ’s, selecting some donated materials to add to the curriculum at Kids Steps.

Carolyn and Susan spent the day at Kids Steps, including helping the children learn to write their own names; about a third of the four and five year olds are unable to do so at this point. The Mother Goose nursery rhyme book from the GV Resource Room turned out to be a hit with the children. It will remain at Kids Steps for use by the teachers.

Christina and Jim tutored at the primary school with the same students as before. Glen, one of the teachers, dropped in to discuss the hope that we could write a brief assessment of each student’s current level of progress when we end on Friday, so as to give the next Global Volunteers team who tutors, an idea of where to begin.
Glen noted that though our tutorial students are significantly challenged academically, the full time teachers and we as volunteers have the same goal, to help each student achieve their maximum potential. Some of the students show little progress day to day; in others we can see progress more readily. We plan to use the reading progression series books, flash cards and math cards as achievement markers for future teams.

Notably, January 23 is a shared birthday for the Honorable Derek Walcott, born 1930 and Sir Arthur Lewis, born 1915, died 1991. Today the wall of classrooms next to the playground at the primary school is full of placards describing their achievements. All week the principal’s opening ceremony discussion has focused on helping students recognize the unique circumstance that St. Lucia, an island of 238 square miles and less than 200, 000 people, has produced two Nobel Laureates. Their perseverance is an example for all of us.

Both Lewis and Walcott were born in Castries, just up the coast from Anse La Raye. Sir Arthur Lewis received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979 for his work on the economics of developing countries. Derek Walcott, the author of twenty plays and numerous books of poetry, received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. His work explores the complex dynamics of West Indies culture in the transitional state of a post-colonial, post-slavery society.

At dinner we welcomed Gabriela “Gabby, ” a Peace Corps Volunteer working at the Infant School in Anse La Raye. She is one of seven Peace Corps workers on the island. Her story of integration into the Anse La Raye community, including her direct experience of the Christmas Eve flood, was a welcome insight into the local culture.