15 March 2011

Nevis Nice

Should I feel guilty after all the fun I had this weekend?  I'm pretty sure there's a stipulation in one of the bylaws stating the limits of just how much fun a PCV is allowed to have while on official business, and I probably broke that rule between Sports Day at my school and this weekend's "Imagine" Fundraiser on Nevis.

The entirety of the second trimester at Kittitian schools is devoted to celebrating inter-school competition through the use of the traditional British "house" system.  (Many readers will be familiar with this system already thanks in large part to the works of one J.K. Rowling.)  The houses represented at Dr. William Connor School are the Red Panthers, the Orange Jaguars, the Yellow Tigers, (some prefer to say Gold) and the Green Pumas.  Each house has spent the last 3 months obtaining points for his/her house through academic trials, competitions, and good behavior.  But come March, the house points are all relatively equal, and so the trimester culminates in a grand Sports Day, not unlike a Field Day at a typical elementary school in the US.

A sixth grade boy helps the Red Panthers take this year's house cup.
The day encompasses a mix of track and field events for students of every age, but is very heavy on footraces, including 60m and 100m sprints and 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1200m runs.  For the shorter races, the teams select their four fastest sprinters, two boys and two girls, for each of four different age brackets: 7 years and younger, 8-9 years, 10-11 years, and 12-13 years.  Then houses earn points based on the finishes of their two entrants.  At most 8 compete in each trial, and the top 5 finishers earn points, making some races for second or third place as exciting as for the top spot!

The community comes out in full force to observe and cheer on their children, friends, favorite houses, etc.  As the races begin with the noontime heat in full force, spectators don't begin arriving until around 2:00.  But then it's an all day event of barbecuing, cheering on tight races, liming with buddies, and just supporting our outstanding students.  And as with so many things here involving official social recognition, the Kittitians take their Sports Day competitions very seriously.  Fortunately there were no altercations this year, as the top spot was awarded to the Red Panthers, who had a stranglehold on the house points lead from even before Sports Day began.  And so the day ended shortly after dusk, around 6:30, with a couple of exhibition 4x100m relays, attracting the fastest students and former students alike with no consideration for house affiliation.  It ultimately garnered the most delight from the fans, who were enthralled with two close finishes from the boys' race and the girls' race.

With that ended, and lots of good pictures and video captured, I turned my attentions to the Pink Lilies/Voices of Women Imagine Fundraiser gala event on Nevis Saturday night, which I had agreed to participate in as drum accompaniment to a fellow volunteer as she read the poem she had prepared in honor of the event.  I was able to get plenty of sleep, then, on Friday night in preparation for traveling to Nevis the next day; and it's a good thing, too, because organizing free transportation over to Nevis for the performers was a logistical nightmare.  We ended up waiting 45 minutes for a free taxi trip (20 minutes) to the Southern Peninsula where we waited another 15 minutes for a short ferry trip across the Narrows (10 minutes) to Oualie Beach on Nevis, where we waited 10 minutes for a bus to pick us up to run us to the Old Manor Hotel in Gingerland (20 minutes).  And we still managed to arrive in-time and intact.

My fellow PCV and I at the gala event
that she helped organize.
The event was in part a fundraiser for Pink Lilies and Voices of Women, both NGOs concerned with gender equality and other social issues, and in part an awareness effort inspired by International Women's Day, celebrated on the 8th of March.  As such, the evening's programme centered on women's empowerment, individualization, and independence.  There was a fine turnout, (at one point fitting 75+ people onto a somewhat confined patio) which included most notably the premiere of Nevis himself, giving the event some much-desired visibility.  The programme of performances were highly-touted, and they killed all evening: a handful of Island Xpressions poets, an a capella trio, a Calypsonian, a jazz instrumentalist, and finally the headlining Kasanova Band.  All in all, the awareness goal of the event was met with vigor, with women's empowerment issues getting a sincere and often powerful look, and we men took some good-humored "mashing up" in the process.  And as for the fund raising goal, at EC$75 a head, I sincerely hope all the paid performers and the institutions themselves garnered a return on the order of what they had envisioned.  There was some talk about turning it into an annual event, so who knows?  Maybe I'll be returning for the encore event next March.

Sunday came quickly the next morning, and my Nevisian volunteer friend and I found time to go beach hopping and see part of the small island that I had not visited before.  I even got to play some pickup soccer in the sand – not only did my team win, but I scored the winning goal!  It was a real workout, but quite a satisfactory high point, especially since it was the first time I had got to play beach soccer since seeing some guys playing all the way back at PST in St. Lucia.  So between that, a round of pool at one of the beach bars, and a quiet nap waiting for the sun to set, we had a very relaxing island kind of day that was enjoyed by all.

P.S. It seems I forgot Pi Day yet again.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that sounds like a lot of fun, and an interesting trip to St. Nevis. I forgot Pi day too, since it was my first day in San Antonio. There's a "design your own pizza" place in Athens called YourPie, that was selling pizzas for $3.14. I was planning on attending. I haven't read your latest post, something I will do shortly. Congrats on your soccer game, sounds fun. I played with some younger kids in S.A. a game called 'gaga ball' I'll describe it to you on Skype. Check out this link.