Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Mile

Today, twenty students from our two oldest classrooms (a combined class of second and third graders as well as a combined class of fourth and fifth graders) went on a field trip, accompanied by their two teachers, the principal, and myself. We arranged for transportation via a tourist bus, which is known here as a “coaster” (don't ask me why—I just need to know not to call it a bus). I've written previously about how vans are called “buses” (or transports) here, so these buses that are larger than a van get a distinctive name.
Our destination was the agricultural station at One Mile (I do know the origin of this name—it is simply one mile from the town of Portsmouth). After an initial orientation talk in a conference room, the group headed outside to the first of many greenhouses. They learned how seeds are started in trays of potting soil, and steadily cared for as they grow bigger. Other things they learned included the process of grafting two plants together, how to do “air layering” (stripping the bark and then wrapping soil around the wound to stimulate roots to grow, after which the branch can be cut and planted), and how to start new plants from cuttings.
This facility is a joint effort between Dominica and China—one of many ways that China provides foreign assistance to this island. Many Americans seem to mistakenly think that we are the only country that provides foreign aid, but that is not true. Besides China, I've seen signs proclaiming joint projects with Canada as well as various European countries. Another example is that Morocco helped to fund a tourist hotel. Plus, Cuba provides many doctors and healthcare workers on the island.
Although the emphasis on this trip was to supplement their science classes about plants, we also got to see their pigs—and as Charlotte (from the book “Charlotte's Web”) would write in her web about Wilbur, that was “some pig!” I got this picture of a brother and sister with one of the huge pigs in the background between them (which reminds me of my sister--not the pig, but the sibling picture itself). Speaking of spiders, I also saw this large one (about four inches long) on the screen of one of the greenhouses. Notice how it holds its legs together, so that it appears to only have four rather than eight legs.
Here are a couple of shots from our walk outside in the gardens. By the way, our guide for the day (shown pointing in the bottom photo) is employed there, but is from our village.
I like this shot showing the 2nd/3rd grade teacher walking on the other side of the grape arbor from me.
Here are a few interior shots from some of the greenhouses. The top one shows that they grow flowers as well as vegetables here. The bottom one shows water lilies growing.
After touring the facility, we gathered at the gate for a group picture.
However, our field trip wasn't over yet. I arranged to pay for ice cream for everyone, so we hiked the mile into Portsmouth for a treat to make the day even more special for them. We had to walk along what is the main road between our village and Portsmouth. These students have been riding on this road all their lives, but now they can remember the day they walked this section of the road. Below our group walks two-by-two past a “Keep Dominica Beautiful” sign.
When we reached the large sporting complex, we got off the main road and cut through the cricket field and then across the netball court (netball is a bit like basketball, but with no dribbling and no backboards), shown below.
We finally reached the ice cream shop, which was very popular with these students from our small village, as evidenced in these last two pictures.
It was a great day, which I trust they will long remember! Hopefully, they learned some things that might help them on a test some day.

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