Shooting for the Moon by Jenelle Macdonald

18 05 2015

Every single day has been a whirlwind adventure on this island, so much so that when we get a rare night off, no one knows what to do with themselves. This weekend was certainly jam packed to say the least. On Friday night, we decided to go on a team movie night to watch the Avengers at the local movie theatre. The movie was incredible but let’s be honest the main reason why we really wanted to go was so that we could eat movie theatre popcorn. Pretty sure everyone woke up exhausted the next morning from having dreams about being superheroes saving the world. On Saturday, we had the privilege of volunteering at the Wings Basketball Festival which is an outdoor basketball tournament held every year for people under 20 years old. All of the champs did an amazing job refereeing, scorekeeping, timing and much more. The first part of the day was a skills competition which involved activities such as speed dribbling, 3 point contest shooting knockout. The second half of the day was all of the basketball games. We even got to play against the women’s team in the final game of the day. Leading the way on the court was our basketball guru Aieisha Luyken who, whenever she touched the ball, the crowd erupted into cheering. I’m almost positive that the fans were seconds away from boycotting the tournament when she tried to step off the court to allow a sub in, what a heartbreaker. Everyone had so much fun and it just goes to show how a sport can really bring a community together. Thank you Lucaso Brumont for allowing us to come out and be apart of such an amazing event and congratulations to all of the participants.

While we were all being basketball superstars, Jo was off in the van on her way to pick up some special guests from the airport. I would like to take this time to welcome Celine Charbonneau (Surrey District), Carly Wright (Langley District) and Shelby Lund (Mission District) who are all past champions, now teachers, that have come for our last week to not only help us out but to also teach in the primary schools alongside us. We are so excited to watch you teach and to learn from all of your experiences from the Antiguan schools in the past as well as in the Canadian schools that you currently teach in. I would also like to welcome Brian Justin back to the island who is a Lab Instructor at UFV and has come to teach workshops to coaches and athletes on the island about Athletic Management. His support and involvement within the program has always been greatly appreciated so thank you and welcome back! Last but certainly not least I would like to welcome Eric Fehlauer to the island who flew in to surprise the love of his life Kalie Webb with a stunning engagement ring. He has now definitely set the bar extremely high for all of the partners back home. Congratulations Kalie and Eric on your beautiful engagement and may you have many, many years of happiness ahead of you.

We also hosted a BBQ for all of the schools involved in the program. With the guiding and calming help of Rochelle and her mom’s amazing shredded chicken recipe, we were able to feed over 70 teachers, principals and friends to the program. It was an excellent evening filled with good food, great conversation and lots of laughter.

“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land amongst the stars.” These are the wise words that Louis our security guard/ workout partner at the Anchorage Inn tells me to follow almost every single morning when I see him. Which is exactly what I have tried to accomplish throughout my time teaching at Villa Primary School. This is the first year that the Champions for Health program has been introduced at Villa and they have gratefully welcomed my teaching partner Taya McMillan and I in with open arms. At first the students weren’t quite sure what to think about us, they only knew us as the “white people” and assumed that we would only be around for a day. However, as we kept coming back day after day, they came to the realization that they would have to put up with us for a while. Before coming to this island I made the decision of not wanting to make close relationships with the teachers or the students because I knew that if I did, it would be too hard to say goodbye when I finally had to leave. Well, it’s safe to say that that plan completely backfired and I am now dreading the day that I will have to say goodbye. It’s going to be emotional.

Today marks the first day of our last week and I honestly do not know where this past month has gone. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were getting off of the airplane red in the face and sweating bullets like no tomorrow, well at least I was any way. While we drove around the island this morning dropping off my fellow teachers at other primary schools I couldn’t help but really take everything in. Jo reading us our morning horoscopes and making assumptions about them for us, Rochelle and Karsen acting like an old married couple, Taya and I feeling the lovely effects of car sickness and Celine joining in on our amazing country singing. When we get to Villa Primary the students are on us right away to borrow a ball or a skipping rope or just want us to come and play with them. Usually our first class of the day doesn’t start until 10am which is nice because Taya and I have the opportunity to look over our lesson plans one more time and to prep mentally and emotionally for the day. Today was a rare case where we had to start our Kindergarten PE class at 9:30 because tourists from the resort were coming in to read to the Kindergarten class for an hour starting at 10. Being flexible is definitely a skill that is always being practiced here on island. You have to be able to go with the flow and change your lessons accordingly to whatever comes up. I thought I was flexible before this trip but now looking back, not even close and I am so thankful that I can take that skill home with me and use it in my life back in Canada. At lunch after we eat Taya and I will give out equipment and go play with the students. Today Taya and I were showing the students how to dance the jive, they loved all of the twirling and all you could hear was the laughter as they partnered up and started to dance. I had one little boy come up to me at lunch to give me a high five and he asked me, “Teacher Mac are you leaving us on Thursday” I looked into his big brown eyes and said, “Yes Sanjay, I am.” He looked down at the palm of his hand where we had just high five and responded in a very overly dramatic tone, “Well I am not washing this hand until you come back” and ran off. It is funny, quirky little moments like that, that I am going to miss the most. If there is anything that I have learned from this experience is that kids do truly say the darnedest things. After lunch we had back to back grade 5 classes and every time we teach them you can just see how much they have progressed since the first day in terms of behaviour, participation and enthusiasm. To be able to witness the progress and know that it stems from the hard work put in by Taya, Alison Brico our amazing TEP and myself just gives you an overwhelming sense of pride. This program has truly been life altering and I have learned so much about myself and about who I am as an educator. These life experiences will forever stay with me and I am so thankful that I am able to be a part of the Antigua 2015 team.

See you in a week,

Jenelle Macdonald
Villa Primary School



3 responses

19 05 2015

I love seeing all the pictures! It is crazy this is your last week! Enjoy every moment! Miss you all!!

19 05 2015
Inderpret Bring

Sounds like an eventful week! Thanks for all the great blog posts and sharing your experiences! Keep up the great work champions and enjoy the rest of your time teaching on the island!

20 05 2015
Alison Bricco

Janelle! I enjoyed your blog..makes me miss everyone and the kids. I am so happy for you that you could be part this year’s team. Enjoy your last few days at Villa! I know it will be hard to leave so soak up every minute of it and have fun 🙂

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