Week Three in the Cook Islands

Millennium Development Goals Achieved by this Team: 1, 980 students and 30 teachers taught English language skills, 390 hours of English language instruction

The KiiKii Hotel, with the continual sound of the surf, is a peaceful, restful home away from home.

Home…. Family, job, and routine responsibilities are a million miles away.

Today marks the half-way point for the six members of Vaka 102 that are staying the full 3 weeks, and the three-quarters point for the remaining 7 of us. I can’t believe that I have only 2 more days of helping at Tereora College.

I wasn’t sure I was really helping, but listening to the various community partners at last Friday’s celebration dinner made me realize that every little bit does help, cumulatively, over time. There are so many places on Rarotonga that I haven’t been able to visit and will not be able to before Brandi and I leave on Saturday. This fantastic adventure will soon be drawing to a close – however the friends and memories I have made will last forever. The opportunity for me to meet 16+ new and special friends as well as the chance to spend real quality time with my granddaughter to reinforce what I’ve known for a very long time, that she is a very special person to me.
– Joyce Benedict

**********It is encouraging to know that a nation’s need for a couple extra hands is able to spark the interest in so many people, form so many walks of life, from so many thousands of miles (or km’s) away, to come and lend a helping hand in whatever tasks need to be done regardless the task or method.

During my time here I have spent the majority of my days helping out at the Whale Research Center, patiently waiting for the phone call that the whales have made their way north to the beautiful waters of Rarotonga. Once the calls and or sightings started coming in it is easy to see that the people I am helping out are completely devoted to helping these animals. On a smaller time table we too have devoted our time, one, two, or three weeks in order to help a greater cause. During the days in which I was not at the research center organizing their technology, I spent my time at the conservation area cleaning the yard at the front office. In that I can hope that we have helped in providing an area that employees can be proud of when they bring visitors through for tours. I also spent time with the Mammas, working up a sweat, enjoying the weather, and even some local musical talent.

All in all, this has been a trip I will never forget, in a land that is so different from my home. What I have learned is that no matter where I travel, people live to have something to be proud of. I can say that I am proud to be a member of the Vaka 102, proud of the footprint we have left on this rock that truly is one of the jewels of the world.
– Kyle Schwan

************The first day of work week 3 found me at my regularly scheduled 1st day at Takitumu Primary School. Quite a change from last week where Claire and I spent many hours together trying diligently to produce a communication project for a group of people with disabilities. You wouldn’t think that this would be difficult considering we had 2 speech-pathology degrees and many years of experience (on Claire’s part) between us. Needless to say things are never as easy as they appear but it was very rewarding to see many of our ideas, suggestions and communication schedules being used on Friday. Today I read with a number of students and worked in the library, alongside my now infamous “partner in crime” Kay and Rajni. It was very rewarding to sit with the students and discuss the various stories with them and see their eyes light up when I suggest a game of Junior Scrabble. It makes me realize and appreciate that what we do here on the Cook Islands no matter how small or big is always appreciated. – Stefanie Pinguet

*************Ron returns to his beloved Imanuela Akatemia to continue reading in the morning and working on the projects for the principle in the afternoon. He’s determined to complete the assigned painting outside and the student Watermelon Marketing Committee. Janice offered to use her skills to help Donna at the Disability Action Team develop a series of news releases for the local papers. Rajni, Kay and Stefanie returned to our fond community partner, Takitumu reading program, where they continued with the reading program and included a bit of library work as well.

Claire set out with Donna again to conduct very cursory speech assessments in the schools followed by a 2 hour visit to Papa John in his home where he recuperates from a stroke. She finished the day with Mata, a delightful teen with a cleft palate that she and Stefanie started seeing last week. These are 2 very grateful families. Although three week at first seemed an abundance, the days have sped up so we wonder where the time has gone. We are just settling in to island life and it’s time to turn our thoughts to home! All too soon our Cook Island adventure will become a pleasant memory of a faraway paradise.
-Claire Kirchen

**********I cannot believe that we only have 3 more days left on the beautiful island that I have begun to call home. I’ve been here nearly 4 weeks now (since I came a week early), and already I feel as though I’ve been accepted by the locals and have been treated like family. The bus drivers remember us and the kids from school wave as they pass us by in town. It puts a smile on my face whenever people ask if I’m a local and then how their faces light up when I say I’m here with Global. I think they really appreciate the things we are doing for their children and for the community. I remember why I chose to come to the Cook Islands – not only because of the beauty, but also because of the friendliness and hospitality that I know the people of the South Pacific have. Here the air is fresh and scented with frangipani and gardenias. There is a ring of turquoise around the island that always takes my breath away.

As far as work went the mural project at Apii Te Uki Ou turned out great and I’m so proud that the girls Vaine, Tash, Taylor and Rosie thought of such a unique way to beautify their school.

One of the highlights of the trip was being able to catch a Kakerori at the conservation area. Holding the bird in my hand, I was amazed at how fragile and yet how cheeky it was, and grateful that so many people have joined together to save its species.

I don’t think I could have wanted more from this trip…our team leader Debi has been absolutely wonderful and I think of her as one of the mother hens that roam around the Kii Kii and we are kind of like the chickens who have grown and now must fly. Even though chickens don’t really fly…well you get the idea! – – Rajni Boparai

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