Thursday, May 15, 2014

A School for Zeke and Nina!


Zeke and Nina are back in a proper school! Are they happy about that?  Well sort of.... but they reckon it suffers a couple of tedious drawbacks, although I am sure you will agree with me they are quite minor:
  1.  they have to get up at 5:45 am – even for us that's pretty early! and...
  2.  school is conducted in a foreign language!!!
Yes, Zeke and Nina are enrolled in the Coll├Ęge Te Tau Vae Ia in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.  Its student population numbers about 220 kids, mostly indigenous Marquesans, but with a light peppering of Caucasians, mostly French natives.  All classes are conducted in French.  So do our poor, lilly-white, uncomprehending children stand out in this crowd?  Like the proverbial sore thumbs I'd say!

The plan of course is that they learn a a little French.  But they better be quick learners because we have only enrolled them until the end of the school year (29  June), then we must be back on our way across the Pacific.  

Much to their embarrassment I recently followed them as they walked to their new school, taking a few photos.

They have to be dressed, fed and in the dinghy by 6:20.  On the way to shore they pick up their friends, sisters Mia (left) and Arielle.  They are boat kids like ours, and have been attending the local school for some time.  It was Mia and Arielle's dad Olivier who first encouraged us to think about enrolling ours, and then generously assisted us through the process.

The kids arriving ashore.  Mia and Arielle are notionally French, but have lived overseas for years, are multi-lingual, and are both perfect English speakers.

The scholars head past the fishermen processing their morning's catch (mostly tuna) ...

… and out along the foreshore path.  Mia and Zeke are in the same class and generally sit together so Mia can offer Zeke a little guidance on what is happening.  Arielle and Nina are in the same class and also generally sit together so Arielle can offer Nina a little guidance on what is happening.  How fantastic is that?

They walk past the shore-front tohua with its enigmatic stone ti’i ...

...past the chooks that are everywhere, brought by the Polynesian’s
in their voyaging canoes several thousand years ago...

… and past the grazing horses that are everywhere too.

The school is in sight now.  Its a nice walk in the cool of the morning.  The shelter directly above their heads is where they all sit down for their lunch time meal, a full cooked lunch.  They reckon the tucker is all-right.

In the gate they go.  They arrive at school just before their first class at 7am.  Three days a week school gets out at 3:30pm.  That's a long day for our kids.  On Wednesday and Tuesday they have an easier run, school gets out at 12:30.


So in this total immersion are Zeke and Nina sinking or swimming?  So far they seem to be keeping their heads above water – perhaps even enjoying it. Viva la France I'd say!
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