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November 2,2003

Happy Halloween and Merry November to all! I've learned that Grenadians really aren't that big on celebrating Halloween; however, what they miss out on on Halloween, they easily make up for on All Saint's Day. The tradition is to flock to cemeteries and light candles at the graves of your loved ones. The word on the Grenadian streets is that Grenville has one of the best cemeteries to observe this, so two of the other volunteers, Micah and Josh, joined me in Grenville to check it out. Liz's father is buried in the cemetery. She was heading up with her family and I told her I'd meet her there. I asked her what the scene was like--if it was very somber or what. Her reply was "No mon, it's a big party." In fact it was. We walked up to the cemetery a little after dark (6:30ish) and first heard the music (typical hip hop/reggae mix) then we saw hundreds of candles. As we approached the entrance, the smell of barbecued chicken and popcorn wafted in the air. We overheard a couple of guys say "We're going to the cemetery to check out the hot women." We laughed with them as we pointed out that that's probably the only time you'll hear that comment. We walked in and saw families gathered around the graves with anywhere between 10 and 30 candles lit to honor their loved ones. The mood was kind of a reverent party. As the evening went on, people kept flocking to the cemetery and more and more candles were lit. By the end of the evening there were a few hundred men, women and children walking around, drinking beer, eating food and enjoying the beautiful night. It was quite a scene seeing the hundreds and hundreds of candles lighting up the cemetery. There was even a bonfire or two burning. It made me quite nervous after seeing the coverage of the fires in California, but given the humidity down here, I don't think wildfires are a concern. It was a good way to spend a Saturday evening for sure. My only regret is not bringing my camera to try to capture some of it for all of you.

In general, this week has been a good one. I've been spending almost every day in the schools, working with children during the day. At many of the schools, I have done assessments on a number of children and shared the information with their teachers/principal. I am now pulling kids out in small groups or 1:1 to work with them on building their reading skills. I try to touch base with their teachers afterwards to let them know what we did and suggest activities that they might be able to do during the week to follow-up. As in any school, these meetings usually take while eating or in the hallways, etc. Some things are universal. After school, I've been doing teacher study groups which are going off with varying levels of success. I've been getting good feedback about them and for the most part feel like I'm learning as much through the process as they are. I met up with a Grenadian special ed teacher who works in the area. She has two schools that I work at that she does a reading group with one or two days a week. It was really good to see what she's up to and check in with her about which students she works with. We talked about getting together once a month with another special ed teacher and the principal of the special ed school to do some collaborating about staff training, programming and good ole' brainstorming. I'm excited about the prospect of having that support and team aspect.

It looks like things are finally cooling down back in the states. I'm missing autumn down here, but the entries for the foliage fiesta are doing well in satiating some of my desires for the weather changes. I've had some beautiful leaves come in and look forward to having more. I'll give you all until at least the end of November since mail sometimes takes a few weeks to get down here. Keep your eyes on the ground and get those leaves pressed and sent!