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January 16, 2004

In the news tonight...

As I was sitting watching the national news report tonight, it struck me again how often the subtle differences from life in the states make life what it is in Grenada. The top news story was an update on the condition of a 16 year old girl from Carriacou who was burned on most of her body last week in an accident--her mother gave the update on her condition and a plea to help her get to Trinidad for medical attention (the nearest hospital with the facilities she needs). After the plea, the newscaster proceeded to give the woman's home phone number for anyone who is willing to help. The newscaster then proceeded to give a report on a traffic accident in St. George's that stopped traffic for a while this afternoon (6 hours ago). A patched together interview with a member of the Grenada Tourism Board followed. They discussed how Grenada is working on boosting tourism revenue and is working on establishing support for Grenadian owned, operated and registered businesses in the tourism sector. Then there's the weather report which eerily sounds the same every single evening. I wonder though, how many Grenadians are actually watching the news. I've heard that most people don't watch the news--not because they don't care, but because they already know it by the time it's broadcasted. It's amazing how an island of 100,000 can have such an effecient "news networK"--and I thought the the Grand Rapids based DMU (Dutch Mothers Underground--an eerie organization we found out about when we hit our teens) was good. They'd have a run for their money here. Have you heard about the theory of 6 degrees of separation? Basically it claims that everyone in the world is linked by no more than six people. Well, in Grenada it's one degree--tops! If you don't know them, I assure you that you know someone who knows them. Even me, with my limited "degree contacts" has found the theory to be flawless.

Mom arrives in Grenada!

As you may have heard, my mom was here for a visit the week after Christmas. We had a wonderful time and from what she tells me, it was great seeing Grenada and just seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting what I take in every day. We rented a car which was quite an adventure. Grenada follows British traffic laws and drives on the left side of the road. As if this wasn't enough to get used to, she had to watch out for various dogs, chickens, donkeys, goats, cows, busses, children and the all too frequent speed bumps. Because of all of this, I became less of a passanger and more of a "co-driver". It often sounded like a twisted game of animal bingo--"Dog!", "Chicken!", "Goat!", "Bump!". Thanks to "our" driving skills, there were no casualties (man or animal) and and we were able to make it all around the island with stops at many places in between. One of the highlights was our trip to the south of the island on a catamaran to go snorkeling and enjoy views of the beautiful island from the sea--ahhh! I love playing tourist--especially when mom's here to spoil me. She was only here for a brief visit and then it was back to work for me. It feels like quite a while since school's been on a regular schedule. Between national elections and Christmas fever, there wasn't too much concentration happening (on anyone's part) for most of November and December.

Today I did a training with 2 other Grenadian special ed teachers at the Byelands Primary School. The school is located about 20 minutes northwest of Grenville in St. Andrew's. It is a rural area and the school is at the end of a concrete road about a quarter mile long. The school is surrounded by trees, bushes and vegetation of all sorts. It is a very remote area and creates a rare quiet and calm environment for the school. There were about 15 teachers at the training plus the principal. The school is working on developing their reading program and is launching a program that groups kids based on reading ability than age for their reading instruction. Emlyn, Leolyn and I did presentations on the components of a reading program, practical strategies and activities and the main learning styles of students. The presentation was well received and as the group warmed up became a productive time of interaction and discussion. At one point in the training, Leolyn was talking about practical activities to help kids learn their letters. As I was reviewing some information, I heard her show them something and say, "Don't even ask me what these are, but I found them in Jamaica--these wirey fuzzy sticks--and I often have kids use them to form letters." I looked up from my notes, instantly recognized the fuzzy things and said "Pipe Cleaners!". It made me start thinking about how many things we might have in our culture which are just "materials" and have a perfectly practical, functional use in another culture.

Well, that's all the news from down south for today! Stay warm!