Friday, October 9, 2015

World Wise Introduction

[The Peace Corps has a program called "World Wise Schools" that pairs up volunteers with American schools so that the students can learn about life overseas. I was able to pair with an elementary school in my hometown, where I had performed some after-school volunteer work last year. Periodically I will be posting blog stories that are directed at my World Wise School, but hopefully these stories will still be interesting for all to read.]

Greetings from the small island country of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean! It is only about 30 miles long and 15 miles wide, with a population of about 70,000 (which is smaller in size and population than Wood County, West Virginia). I came here in August as a Peace Corps Volunteer to work in my village's school for the next two years.

The Peace Corps is a United States government program that sends Americans overseas to help poorer countries. It was started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. There are three goals--to provide assistance to developing countries; to share with them about America; and to inform Americans about life in foreign countries.

I was assigned to a small school (pictured above) in a little village of several hundred people along the Atlantic coast. We are situated between the mountains and the beach, with plenty of coconut trees, breadfruit trees, plantain trees (which are like green bananas), citrus fruit trees, etc. The volcanic soil here is very good for growing things. For example, the cucumbers are larger here than back home, and the local watermelons are delicious!

The people here are very nice, too! My village reminds me of small towns in West Virginia, where everyone pretty much knows everybody else, and people are quick to pitch in to help a neighbor. They have been very welcoming to me.

A view of my village from one of the roads leading into it.
The school where I work is small--we only have three classrooms, all located on the first floor. Upstairs is a small library, the principal's office, bathrooms, two small meeting rooms, and some limited storage. We have just 31 students enrolled in the three classes, with about ten in each classroom. Our classes comprise two grades each, with the one teacher covering both grade levels. Kindergarten and first grade are combined in one room, second and third grades are together in the middle room, and fourth and fifth grades share the last room (we don't have any sixth graders this year).

This is the view of the playing field out my library door, where they play cricket, rounders, and football (not American football--everywhere else but America refers to soccer as football).
One of my duties is to be the school librarian, and they gave me a desk there. My window looks out onto the nearby beach (see the first picture in this story). My door looks out on the playing field, with the village and the mountains behind it. There is no air conditioning down here, so with the temperature generally in the mid- 80s, the door and window louvers are always open during the day.

Here are two views of my little library.
I also help the teachers with struggling students--either inside the classroom, up in the library, or sometimes outside. I help with playground duty, too (but many kids go back to their homes in the village for lunch--we don't have a school cafeteria). My favorite job, though, is that I'm the substitute teacher if one is needed (my least favorite class to teach is the K/1st class, but since they don't read much, I don't have to worry about them reading this comment).

Here is a closer view of the beach just across from my school (with a fisherman's boat).
I look forward to sharing more about life on the beautiful island of Dominica during this school year. Until my next report, please work hard in school! There are lots of students down here who would love to have the resources and opportunities for a good education that you are privileged to have as American school children. Don't waste your chance! Learn as much as you can!
Here's to the dawning of our World Wise Schools relationship!


  1. Hi! There is so much to look at! Cool cave. Awesome bats! They are really cool. How big is the bat? How dangerous was it to climb to the bat cave? Did you see any other wildlife on your way to the bat cave?

    What language do they commonly speak there? How many floods have you seen since you’ve been there?

    Also, the spiky trees are awesome!


  2. Hello. That is an awesome road in September’s post. We thought bats were nocturnal and were confused why they were out in the day. Can you take a picture inside the bat cave?
    We thought your pictures were nice. Also, can you look in the sea to find a shark or take a picture of a volcano?

    Thank you.


  3. Hello!
    We have lots of questions. How fun is it to be a librarian? Was finding the killer tree your favorite adventure- are there a lot of them? Does it rain and flood there a lot? We like your waterfalls. The “Day at the Farm” was really awesome. Do you like their football and do you play it? We like the picture of all the bats swirling in the air. Are there any sharks or dolphins that you've seen?