Monday, August 2, 2010

Back to School

One of the most important goals of GVI in the Seychelles is to work together with the locals and show them how to protect the marine environment. Of course, education starts at the next generation which is responsible for the future of the Seychelles. Because of that GVI planed an Open School day at the local school in Port Glaud. We as volunteers worked a couple of weeks to prepare games and shows to educate the children while playing.

The puppet show in particular required a lot of preparation. We had to paint all the puppets and a few of us played the roles and had to practice the voices. Although it was a lot of work, it was fun and on Thursday morning everyone was nervous before the great show. Other volunteers prepared coconuts for a coconut treasure hunt or invented questions about coral reefs. The goal was to teach the children something about the marine life. Unfortunately, they don’t learn much about that in school.

On Thursday morning the white van took us to the school. Children expected us and looked at us while we prepared the games in the school ground. Most of them were between ten and twelve years old, dressed in their smart school uniforms. Like all the people here, they were very friendly and welcomed us with a big smile on their faces. Then they went in to class and the teacher divided them into groups of ten to 20 children.

As the games started, the school ground became busy. Everywhere children were running around, laughing and playing. The volunteers had been separated into small groups as well so that about five of us were in charge of one game. The recycling sack race, where the children had to pick up different kinds of trash and put them into the right buckets was very popular. Additionally, the sponge throwing game seemed to be a lot of fun. The children were allowed to throw sponges, which looked like marine animals, at volunteers’ faces. At the coloring station, the boys and girls painted their own fish and put them into a coral reef picture so that there was a colorful reef at the end. At the coral reef question game the children had to answer several question about the reef environment. It appeared that some of them knew a lot of corals and about how they live, while others especially the youngest, didn’t know that much about it. But they learned a lot and the winning teams always got a small price. At one station the children could try BCDs, fins and snorkels.

After the break it was time for the great puppet show. Everyone gathered in one of the kitchens, which was prepared as a little show room. Wally the whale shark made his way through the ocean to reach one of the marine parks at the Seychelles and children, teacher and volunteers laughed together about his extraordinary adventure. After the puppet show the actors were very happy. Finally, the children had to search for the painted coconuts, which were hidden on the school ground. One coconut had a star on it. The child who found this one got an extra special price, a GVI T-Shirt. The children and the teachers were very thankful for the day and everyone had a lot of fun. For the volunteers it was a nice experience to visit a local school and talk to the children. Surprisingly, we met some of the children again in Victoria or at the bus station in Port Glaud and they recognized us. It was fantastic to be a part of something that really makes a difference to the local people while being here.