This past Friday was the first time I had been on a school field trip in over eight years, as Etoile de Mer invited us to accompany them on their visits to a sugar museum and botanical gardens. To revert to middle school jargon circa 2000, it was “way cool.” First, we all boarded a bus. Like I do anytime I sit in a moving vehicle for more than 5 minutes, I soon fell asleep and woke up to a few students pointing and asking Sarah, in French, why my eyes were closed. (Hmmm…do children not fall asleep in school here? Was this a novelty?)
Soon thereafter we arrived at the sugar museum, which was very entertaining for both its history and hilariously poor English translations on informational placards. The students in my group took it upon themselves to lead me through the museum, excitedly attempting to communicate with me about particular exhibits, and retrieving me whenever I fell behind. I especially enjoyed it when one girl decided to search through all the photographs accompanying exhibits to point out English words I had taught her in class the previous week. (Yes, she was listening!) After the sugar museum, we boarded the bus and made our way across the street to the botanical garden.
There, we all sat down on a grassy field and had lunch, and I soon was blown away by the generosity of the children. I’m sitting in the grass, munching on my food, and soon, one-by-one, nearly all of the children in my vicinity approached me, hand extended, offering me a piece of their lunch. I couldn’t believe how these children, with limited means and resources, could not wait to share their food rather than hoard it (like I probably would). After lunch, the fellows initiated a huge game of Duck, Duck, Goose. All of the students and the teachers got involved. My favorite moment was when one kid tapped a teacher, probably thinking she wouldn’t try very hard and would be slow, and the teacher bounced up and sprinted after the boy, eventually tackling him and sending him into the “pot.” Then Jordan introduced Red Light, Green Light, and the entire school got involved once again. After about an hour, we checked out the gardens and saw huge lily pads, biting fish, massive tortoises, and trees with crazy roots. A few students had cameras, and we got some great group shots. Around 3pm we boarded the buses once again, and headed back.
On the way there, the students seemed wary of us. But on the way back, I was asked to sit with a student from my museum group, and she chatted with me and, once again, shared her food all of the way back to school. I was particularly touched by this; I felt like the field trip had allowed the fellows to form a more informal relationship with the students, one based on reciprocity. All-in-all, a great day. Looking forward to heading back to Etoile de Mer on Tuesday. I will leave you with this…