Canadian boat kids: at school in Luperon

Construction work on the local public school has finally come to an end. Our kids began school last week in Luperon, Dominican Republic (DR). Our mission is for them to make some new friends and learn to speak to Spanish.

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Our kids are in their uniforms and ready for their first day of school.

They are attending Pedro A. Pina public school. The staff has limited English-speaking skills. So, it is an adventure buying school uniforms, communicating food allergies, and figuring out school start times.

On the first day of school, we assembled in the schoolyard and there was ribbon cutting, singing and speeches. The staff wore pink uniforms.

As we waited for school to start, a delivery truck drove through a throng of waiting children. To us, it seemed quite dangerous. But, this is a school population that arrives, in part, on motorbikes without wearing helmets. Seven-year olds walk alone to school.

With the truck incident, there was no staff involvement. Kids simply moved out of the way as the driver lurched and revved his engine to make it over a hump in the asphalt.

That truck incident aside – and, it happened again the second day – the school pride was evident, and similar to something you might see in North America. However, I don’t recall seeing any of my teachers sing a solo and sway to the music with such gusto.

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First day of school: a teacher rocks out to a song that seems to be called “Buenos Dias” as other staff members look on.

On the second day of school, the teachers wore green uniforms. During this assembly we learned that school starts at 7:30 a.m. But, it seems that the start time is rather flexible given that some teachers straggle in during the morning assembly. The official school end time is 4pm, but, inexplicably, school let out 7 minutes early on Friday.

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Second day of school: the school is K-6. The tall student in the photo looked to be about 18 years old.

The school design is bright and airy. The custodial staff seem to work hard to keep the yard maintained. That said, I was surprised to see a school custodian resting on a playground bench during class time.

The school serves breakfast and lunch. Paul brings his own meals due to long life-threatening food allergies. I met Paul at school for lunch each day last week to help with his transition. It is tough being the only kid with food allergies.

I expect that most of the school staff will not have heard of an Epipen, especially given that a local ER doctor had never seen an Epipen. I was asked by one staff member if Paul had to inject himself everyday with hus

I admit that mealtimes are stressful. Henry cut his hand and  I observed that there seems to be no first-aid protocols in place. The school does not stock bandaids. Hand soap is non-existent and even toilet paper seems to be in short supply.

Needless to say,  Paul brings two Epipens to school. He is a responsible boy and knows that he must consume only foods that I give him.

Here are some pictures of students in the lunch line-up and in the singing room. Kidsbring their own plates and cutlery. The plates often have lids.

Amazingly, no one seems to label their plates, backpacks or other belongings. There are no cubbies or lockers to store (or lose) belongings. Instead, students must bring all of their belongings to school each day – plates, cutlery, water bottle and school supplies. Our kids’ backpacks are quite heavy.

The last photo in this blog post shows Paul’s teacher. Please take a moment to mentally offer  this woman a hug.

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Paul’s Grade 3 teacher.

Paul’s teacher seems to have missed her calling for occupations elsewhere. She is young and forgets that body language is a large part of communication. Her demeanor indicates she would rather be anywhere else than managing an unruly classroom. To be fair, kids disappear out of her class about once every two minutes. They laugh, wrestle and shout without any apparent recourse.

This week we set off for our 25-minute walk to school. But, we were turned back by local townspeople. Everyone seemed to know that school was closed for two or three days due to Hurricane Matthew.

Our kids are exited to be back on the boat, and we are all grateful for more sleep. But, in our short time at the school our kids have transformed from being the only blonde kids going to school. By the end of the week, our kids had made friends and were walked home with two of them.

We are watching Hurricane Matthew. But, it appears that the storm will not directly affect our area. We are in a virtually landlocked harbour, surrounded by mountainous terrain, which tends to break up the winds.

One comment

  1. It is so nice to read that you are doing fine and that you are safe. I have to say that your description of the school, and all that is not up to our standard of life here in Canada, sound so familiar having spent a month in the community of Canitas , Nicaragua. I saw there that happiness does not necessarily come with a high standard of living. What a great experience for the children. We would like to visit you from December 30th to January 6th. So when you know more about your location during this time, then please let us know a little in advance. Love Marthe and Rod xx

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