My Travels

July 29, 2012

Project Completion

Project Overseas in Grenada was completed on July 28. The CTF seeks to advance progress on poverty reduction and sustainable development as part of Canada's commitment and contribution to the United Nation's international Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Education for All targets. This has been achieved in partnership with national and regional teacher organizations to build capacity among teachers in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.

I am so thrilled to have been a small part of reaching this international goal in Grenada. In my team leader's final speech, she broke it down using numbers to demonstrate the breadth of our reach this summer in Grenada alone. 140 Grenadian teachers participated in our professional development program this summer. If each of those teachers share what they've learned with 10 other teachers, and then pass on that knowledge to 25 students, 35 000 students would be touched.

It's been an invaluable professional development opportunity for me. I've met educator leaders in their field from across Canada, and have come to know the education system in Grenada. I've also hit a low point when I had over 45 sand fly and mosquito bites on my legs. I was disheartened by the pain and unsightliness of the blood red spots, and at one point, was brought to tears. But I wouldn't allow myself the option of coming home. As soon as I taught my first class, I knew that I was meant to be there! Even though my summer "officially" starts now, I can't imagine to have done anything else in July.

Our flight in a Dash-8 from Grenada to Barbados

Closing Ceremonies

On Friday - our last day in Grenada, we had Canada Day Celebrations in the morning. We showed a slideshow of each of the Canadian teachers in our home province. I had pictures of the Raptors game, the Dragon Boat Regatta at Centre Island, the Canuck frenzy on Robson St. in Vancouver, the Inukshuk in Whistler, pictures of the pugs, and my class. Then, participants played different rounds of games against each of the classes. Too bad most of my participants were content with merely just spectating than actually playing!

During the closing ceremonies, the course director, an executive member from the Ministry, and our Canadian team leader delivered speeches. Then, one by one, each of the seven classes put on a presentation. The funniest were the presentations put on by the two computer classes - they found suggestive puns in computer words and turned it into a skit (i.e. "unzip", "insert")! The math class made a freestyle song on measurement - "Measurement ... is a good tactic ... measurement ..." the song was so catchy that it's still stuck in my head!

My visual arts class sang two songs, and then a teacher-participant represented the class to say a thank you/farewell speech to me. Then, another teacher-participant shared a poem she wrote for me, and my co-tutor also said a few words. The class presented me with a lovely thank you/farewell gift. Finally, I joined the class on stage to present the teacher participants with their course certificates.

Bassi, our driver who moonlights as a comedian,
performed a Canada Day stand-up
"Two Countries One Goal"
Competitive Games in the Courtyard
Grenada & Canada
With all the teacher-participants in my course

Classroom Supplies

On Wednesday, I did a draw with my course participants for Canadian souvenirs I had brought over.

On the final day, I did a draw for all of the art supplies for the participants that I had brought over. I even gave away my carry-on suitcase to my co-tutor, which was used to transport all of the supplies. I didn't to bring anything back home!

Back in May, when I was preparing for the volun-cation, I had bought a lot of art supplies from Canada to bring to Grenada, including: canvases, acrylic paints, watercolours, paintbrushes, brayers, block print ink, embroidery thread, and pencil crayons.  The rest of the Crayola products were donated by a presenter at a Crayola workshop I had attended in June. I approached the presenter and told her about my volunteer teaching in Grenada, and she offered to donate the supplies from her workshop. Score! Sherri also gave me some of the markers and pencil crayons that she had bought in Canada. Art supplies are expensive in Grenada, so hopefully it was enough to get their classrooms started for September.

Final Teaching Day

Thursday was our final day of teaching. I did a lesson on portraiture and correct proportions of the human face. Portraiture is my favourite form of art, particularly with pencils and charcoal.

The Canadian Teachers' Federation seeks to advance progress on poverty reduction.  As we are representatives of CTF, we provide support through educating members in developing countries on Gender Equity and HIV/AIDS. In the afternoon, we delivered workshops on these topics.  Sherri and I presented the HIV/AIDS workshop to a group.  It was interesting how little some participants knew of the disease. During the session, a question asked was, "Is it possible to contract HIV through kissing". To which I responded, "You would need to swap buckets full of saliva!"

Presenting the HIV/AIDS Workshop

July 28, 2012

Limin' on the Block

As I've mentioned, classes end each day at 1:30PM. My art students usually stay much later than that, but since I have to meet my team to have our driver pick us up, I usually leave the art room by 2PM. When all 6 of us are finished our post-class meetings and lesson planning, we call our driver, who usually arrives within 5 minutes of our call, and head back to our resort.

We rush back and lime in the pool. Each day we take turns buying a round of drinks from the swim-up bar - and it's happy hour! I think the chlorine helps with the bug bites. Salt water definitely does, but I can't make it past the sand to get into the ocean.

Limin' in the pool

The Beach House

We've been really fortunate to sample some of Grenada's best restaurant's at CTF's cost. Our volun-cation is fully covered including all travel, accommodation, and food. We just volunteer our time, and curricular expertise.  I'd say that's a fair trade off!  We've been eating our way through Grenada - trying some of the top rated restaurants according to This week, we dined at the #1 ranked restaurant, The Beach House, twice!

The ambiance and decor is exactly what the name implies. The first time I ordered mahi mahi with a side of seafood pasta, bellini on the rocks, and shared a mudslide cake for dessert. The second time, I had filet mignon - so melt-in-your-mouth! - and shared a passion fruit meringue for dessert.

As per usual, I set my battery operated mosquito repellent device on the floor beside my feet. And of course, being forgetful, I left it at the restaurant. Luckily, when I called, they had found it and kept it for me for pick up.

The Beach House Restaurant

Last Ditch Effort

My mosquito-and-sand-fly-bite-infected legs are healing nicely, with the help of moisturizing cocoa fat, which is found locally at pharmacies. Cocoa fat is made locally, and sold in cubes, the size of ice cubes for about $3. I stocked up on a few cubes to bring back home.

On Wednesday night, however, while dining at the Beach House Restaurant, I was bitten again, despite my leggings. Now, 5 bites that are close in proximity have merged together to form a big, red, mosquito-y mess on the back on my right ankle.

I bought the new Off! product that I've seen on commercials. I've yet to determine it's effectiveness. It retails for about $25 in Grenada. It's basically a mini battery operated fan that blows on a repellent-coated filter, creating a field of protection around the user. It only works if you remain stationary (i.e., sitting at dinner, reading on the beach, etc.), but not if you're walking around. I bring this with me to dinner & it sits on the floor by my feet.

5 bites that have merged into one giant blob