Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our “Year” is Over!

June 09

Finally! Just 1 school day to go, 2 days to get stuff organised and we fly out of Luanda having completed our first “year” here. Of course, that’s a school year – it won’t be a calendar year until we return in August to do it all again!

The last couple of weeks have been crazily hectic (like schools everywhere I guess). We have had a graduation ceremony for the year 13 students (the school’s third). The year 7 students have had their PYP exhibition. A couple of performances have taken place including a huge musical production of Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Reports have been written and students across the school have had their student led conferences.

In our life, finalising the yearbook has been the biggest issue – but it too is done, several hundred copies burned (in both PAL and NSTC formats), the signing booklets arrived from South Africa and today the students received their first yearbook before the end of school in years (ever ?) as previous printed ones have never arrived or cleared customs in time for the students to receive them before they leave. I was worried the kids might be dismissive of the little signing booklet, but I shouldn’t have worried. Hopefully the feedback tomorrow on the DVD will be good too.

Bill has spent the last three days away at Rio Longa with the entire year 12 class – they have been doing their Group 4 science project there. Every day there are less and less kids in class as they and their parents leave early to go on holiday (a process that has been going on for more than 3 weeks now!). Reports won’t be issued until the end of school tomorrow, but it doesn’t seem a big enough incentive to keep families here till the end of school. (and at the other end of the school year, many don’t think arriving on time is particularly important either).

So – what a year it has been! Partly I feel as if we’ve been here “forever” as the novelty has well & truly worn off, but also I find it hard to believe that a whole year has gone by so quickly. Amongst the teachers here, there have been 3 weddings (with two more these holidays), one baby born, and one definitely on the way. Five teachers have needed to be evacuated to South Africa for health reasons and just in the last two weeks, two others have come down with malaria. The school grew 30% this year and looks like growing a similar amount next year – so already the school is at capacity again (despite a new two-storey teaching block opening this year) – and enrolment at many year levels is closed. It seems more and more families are coming to Luanda all the time & once our school is full, there is really no where else to go. New apartment complexes are springing up all around the local area and the queues in the supermarkets get longer every week. Food prices haven’t come down and supply is still intermittent at best – everyone shops and hordes as you never know when something will disappear off the shelves for a month or two. But the new roads in and around the city have made travel much easier, although if you have the misfortune to travel during rush hour, the trips still take 3 hours or more. Luanda is gearing up for big international football matches in January of 2010 – apparently a new stadium is being built, although we haven’t seen it. There are also rumours of improvements at the airport – at the moment it only seems to be the carparks outside that have changed, but who knows by the time we come back?

Over the year the weather has gone from hazy & cool by day and chilly at night when we first arrived, to clear & then very hot and sunny. We even got about 4 days of rain (not on end) – one rainfall was so heavy it flooded the paths at school & we couldn’t let the kids change classes at the end of the lesson. The temperatures are now noticeably dropping again & it was decidedly hazy at Rio Longa this week. During this time, the baobab trees have gone from bare branches when we arrived, to new leaves, flowered, grew massive fruit pods & although still heavily in leaf, no doubt they will drop while we are away to start the cycle all over again.