Location: Prince Rupert Harbor, Dominica
Today I met a 6-year-old named Malik. I also met a prime minister.
This extremely rainy day for the Ocean star crew began with an early 6:30 wakeup and yogurt, granola, and fruit. Sandwiches were made, and then we were off to the Thibaud primary school, dressed in all foul weather gear. As soon as we got off the bus, we were welcomed by kids in green uniforms peaking at us through classroom doors and through the 2nd-floor railings. David Kurtz, the peace corp member who has connected Seamester with the school before, met us at the bus and walked us inside. There, we were introduced to the most adorable, fun, and smart elementary kids around. Starting with the youngest children, five and 6-year-olds, we said our names and where we were from. Moving through each year all the way up to 6th grade, we were introduced, by name, to each student. They played, jumped on us, and even showed off their homework, many of which had no mistakes. Because of the rain, we weren’t able to do some of the manual work we had planned, so instead, we got to play almost all day with the kids. There was soccer, hair braiding, blocks, books, bottle caps used as finger rockets, a ping-pong table, and a volleyball game. A delicious Dominican lunch was provided by the school, containing a fruit salad, two fish dishes, yellow and green plantains, yams, dumplings, and a few new local fruits we had never tasted before. We got to eat with the students, and then the crew broke up into groups. Around 3 of us were assigned to a class, either to sit in and help or, in some cases, to teach the older kids about sailing, Ocean Star, and knots. Two of us, myself and Anastasia, were assigned to work on art projects for the class. They were learning about the geography of the surrounding islands, so we got to help design the mountainous backdrop for their future projects. Ice-cream was served as this was considered a special occasion for the school, and then the kids were sent home, many of which lived in the village down the road from the school. Malik came and sat by me, eating ice cream, while I painted. He even got to help.
The Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerritt, was scheduled to visit the school that afternoon to check in on the community and to hold a meeting with the small business owners of the island. Big Black SUV’s pulled up, and men got out with umbrellas. Then, a man in a linen shirt stepped out, almost looking too casual to be a Prime Minister. He walked up to us, introduced himself, and learned about what we were doing at the school. After learning we were American, he told us about his time getting his degree from Ole’ Miss. He was soft-spoken but upheld himself in such a respectable manner, and an air of comfort, as well as high regard, surrounded him. He said he wished he had known about Ocean Star being there sooner because he would have liked to invite us to his private country home one town over, however, if his evening cleared up, he said he would like to meet with all of us in Portsmouth that evening. He got our boat phone number, but I guess prime ministers are pretty busy because no call came.
Instead, we came back to the boat, with risotto ready for dinner. After dinner, we had a seamanship class. Each seamanship class, we begin by listening to a song. Its a really relaxing and fun way to begin classes, and I highly recommend bringing that tradition back home. The song today was Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons, and then we learned about Triangulation, or how to navigate by objects as points of reference using a ship’s compass and a deviation table.
That ended a beautifully rainy day, proving that sometimes the best days are the ones that don’t go as planned.