Georgetown update

Hello everyone, 

It has been a while since our last update and we are sorry for that. The Georgetown team has been extremely busy the past week or so participating in various ceremonies commemorating Independence Day as well as teaching at several new schools that Ms. Toney has added to our schedule. 

We’ll start off by telling you folks about Guyana’s 46th Independence Day (May 26th) and the ceremonies we participated in. On Thursday May 24th, Ms. Toney invited us to the opening ceremony of the Independence Day Exhibition at the Guyana National Museum. There, we watched a performance of steel pans, met the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, and learnt a great deal about Guyana’s history and its fight for independence. Later that day, we visited the Ruimveldt Children’s Aid Centre, worked with the children, and made a deal with Ms. Patsy (lady who prepares the meals for the children) to provide us with traditional Guyanese recipes in exchange for washing all the dishes! We think it’s a fair deal and so far we have learnt to make channa, chicken cook-up, salt fish and bake, and pinwheel; the list keeps getting bigger and bigger with each visit!

Cultural dance at the Independence celebrations at
National Park
On Friday evening, after our regular teaching sessions, we headed down to National Park to take part in the celebrations for Independence Day. There we heard the president of Guyana, Mr. Donald Ramotar give a speech to the people of Guyana, watched several cultural dance performances, the marching band, the flag-raising ceremony, and some fireworks. Going to these celebrations, we thought Guyana would be just like Canada on Canada Day in that people would be wearing their country’s colours in pride. Little did we know, that things are a bit different here and instead people show up in their fanciest outfits. Wish we knew this before we decided to wear our Guyana t-shirts, belts, and ribbons…we looked quite foolish and stood out like sore thumbs! All in all, it was a really enriching experience to be a part of the celebrations at National Park since it was the first time the four of us had been completely immersed in the Guyanese culture and witnessed such celebrations. Continuing with the festivities, on Saturday (Independence Day), we went to a cultural party hosted by the R.B.I. school as Ms. Toney’s “special” guests. At the school, we were treated with the utmost respect and the principal of the school even asked us to get up in front of the mic and introduce ourselves to the children. It was so nice to see the relationship that the principal and teachers had with the students and to hear stories of how these people have been vital figures in the students’ lives.

Matching Guyana gear!

“May Pole” dance by youth in Sophia in celebration of
Independence Day. 
On Monday, we started off the new week by going to a new school called Valmiki Vidyalaya. Valmiki Vidalaya is a Hindu school located approximately 30 minutes from Georgetown. We had a fantastic time teaching grades 5 and 6 since the students were extremely well behaved, attentive, and polite. Also, the headmaster at the school was very welcoming and really liked what QHO is doing in Guyana. He even asked us to do a two hour teaching session with the teachers of the school and to leave behind a teaching manual so that they can continue to teach the students after we leave Guyana. This makes us exceptionally happy as this is exactly what QHO is all about. We want to make sure that our curriculum is sustainable because without sustainability, our efforts become much less effective. 

On Tuesday, Sydney and Arash met up with Ms. Toney to go over our schedule and to add a few new schools to our empty slots. Some new schools we will be visiting are R.B.I., Monar, and Valmiki Vidyalaya (a second location within Georgetown). The addition of these 3 new schools has really filled up our schedule, but we are super stoked to go to these new schools and interact with more students. Ms. Toney also got us to participate in a campaign she has designed for World Challenge Day. She has created a campaign called “I Will Say No To…” that targets the youth of Guyana by asking them about the issues that they think affects youth and youth development in Guyana. Through this campaign, which has started right here in Georgetown and will travel across the nation to all 10 regions, Ms. Toney wants to get a better understanding of the issues that the ministry needs to focus on, be it sexual abuse, drugs, violence, etc. 

“I Will Say No To…” campaign for World Challenge Day. 
In preparation for this campaign, we spent the rest of our Tuesday helping Ms. Toney by drawing 4 maps of Guyana on large pieces of fabric. The idea behind the maps is to take them to different schools, and to get students to write the issues they think are important within the map. Once this is done, the prevalence of issues on the maps would be analysed to figure out what issues need more attention from the ministry. So when we weren’t teaching on Wednesday, we helped Ms. Toney visit different schools to get students to sign on to her campaign. The first day of the campaign was very successful and we got some great responses from students. All 4 maps were filled with a variety of issues (we definitely need to make more maps). The nice thing about this campaign is that not only does it help Ms. Toney and the ministry, but it also helps us target the topics we need to focus on in our lessons in order to cater our curriculum more properly. 

Finally, this past weekend we had the opportunity to head up to the Essequibo community with Ms. Toney and visited a few different settlements. But seeing as how this post is already so long, we’ll need to do another post on our trip. So keep checking back within the next few days because we will be telling you all about our adventures and experiences in Essequibo.

Until then,

The Georgetown Crew 
Posted in Georgetown, Guyana, QHO.

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