I do not have any pictures for some reason, but all three days were spent watching our boys and girls basketball teams compete for the championship. Surprisingly, there are at least seven other teams they compete against throughout the entire island. Some of the other schools have GED programs, which pulls in students (that are somehow allowed to play) that are much older than normal high school students. At one game, our guys looked like little boys next to men who almost all sported beards. Having said that, our guys did not fair too well and lost in the first round. The girls however, were much more successful and ended up winning the championship! What makes it quite amazing is that our high school only has 45 students, with maybe 30 being females. Most of the other high schools have a much higher number, such as Marshall Islands High School which has 1200 students! I will post pictures when I get some from the students...
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
We did not have classes on these days because they were national holidays: Nuclear Victims Remembrance Days. They go back to the nuclear testing that occurred following WWII until around 1955 with the Bravo Test. Hundreds of Marshallese were displaced from their homes, and thousands more affected from the nuclear fall out from all the testing. We had a speaker come in on Wednesday who spoke to the high school about these remembrance days.
ASB Baking Frenzy
Since we did not have school Thursday, the student government had a Baking Frenzy fundraiser. They took pre-orders from students, parents and faculty, and spent the whole morning and afternoon baking cookies, brownies and cinnamon rolls.
The baking frenzy went on until almost 5pm, but I was already well on my way to Eneko. If you get a chance to look at a map, Majuro Atoll has many small islands connected by underwater coral reefs. Eneko is one small island with one family living on it, who let others stay on it anytime they please. There are boats that can go there all the time, which only costs $20 road trip. To stay over night on the island, you either bring a tent or stay in one of the four rooms for $15 per night. I went with a few other teachers and camped out Friday night. It was perfect weather and a much needed break...
We got back from Eneko around 2pm, a mini vacation I wish did not have to end so soon. Despite my disappointment of heading home, I had an excellent reason: I was about to experience my first kemeem. It is a celebration of someone's life, typically either the first birthday or any birthday over 85 or 90 years old. Essentially it is a birthday party as we know it, but oh so much better. This one was for Kaname Yamamura, the grandfather to five of our students, and he was 92 years old. I was invited by the students and their parents, something that is nearly unheard of nowadays in the states. The celebration went on for over five hours, and had over 200 guests! The reason why I say it is so much better than our parties is because the family of Kaname provide the food, entertainment and catering. I was absolutely amazed. There was enough food for at least 300 people, all of which could have an overflowing plate of all sorts of food. And they serve it in take away containers, so if you do not finish you can just take it home! There were four Biit dances, traditional Marshallese style, put on by family and friends. Three of Kaname's granddaughters (11th grade students) sang three songs for him. So much thought and sincerity went into the night...I was blown away. In between providing entertainment, the family members were walking around chatting to friends, and making sure they were all set with everything.
|The family (there were more skyping from the States)|
|Some of the guests|
|One of the Biit dances|
|Four of the students singing and playing the ukulele|
|Another Biit dance|
|Almost always with smiles on their faces|