Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Trini Tuesday-TTfootball's question

Last week I offered the opportunity for people to ask specific questions about Trinidad or our experience there.

ttfootball said...
Lime yuh really throw pictures on the ground like leaves?! LOL!!

Again I am surprised by the insects...ah feel allyuh shoulda live a lil closer to Town hehe
I have clicked around quite a bit but have never discovered HOW you got to Trinidad in the first place in terms of: were you sent there by some organisation, did you volunteer to go as part of a program, was there a choice of destinations and you thought hmm this might be interesting?Enlighten me.

First of all, yes, I really threw pictures around like leaves. As for the insects, gyul we lived by O'Meara road in Arima, not exactly out in the bush. Hahahaha

Mr. Lime and I are both certified as Special Education teachers and had gone to Trinidad in '89 and '91 on 2 week work trips, working mainly in Tacarigua. The first time we had just finished cross cultural training with about 12 other people and we had planned to spend the summer in China teaching English. A little incident at Tianamen Square in Beijing caused those plans to be scrapped entirely and we were scrambling for something else to do. One of our trainers suggested Trinidad because he had led teams there and knew the program was pretty flexible about taking folks at the last minute. We didn't want to waste all out training so that's how we got there the first time. We liked it so much we returned. During the second trip we were invited by a local fellow to return for a longer term to start a program to work with handicapped students through his organization.

The education system is based on the British system and at the time all students at about age 12 took what was called the Common Entrance Exam. Performance on this single test determined whether or not a student would continue onto secondary school and if so, at which school. Students with a lot of ability get an excellent education but students with even mild handicaps that would respond to very simple forms of remediation often failed. The system has since changed such that secondary education is now provided to every student but at the time it was not.

During our time we also found that economics were every bit as big a handicap for many students as any sort of learning disability. Although education is 'free' students have to purchase uniforms, all their textbooks and supplies, and provide their own transportation to school. For a family of squatters that may not have money for food every day it's a hell of a choice to have to make, feed the kids or pay for taxi fare to get them to school?

We were excited about the opportunity to use our training in a place where we could really make a difference and we were thrilled to be able to work for a Trinidadian organization as opposed to an American one. We liked the idea of supporting local ideas and goals rather than coming in and projecting our own ideas on how things should work. The intention was to be there for at least 4 years but unfortunately some very severe administrative problems made that impossible and we had to return to the US after a little over a year.

~Tim said...
You capture the sound of the language very well in text, but how about an audio post?

Thanks, I had done an audio post over a year ago but unfortunately the service that hosted it is now defunct so I can't even give you the link. I haven't had the chance to but I will look around to see what I can find to let you hear a more authentic accent than what I can muster up.

If anyone else has questions feel free to leave them in comments.

Until next time, Happy Trini Tuesday.


Breazy said...

I knew that you all had went to Trinidad to teach but I didn't know exactly how that came about, so now I know! Thanks!

It is so good to be back even if just a little.

Have a wonderful day!

Hypersonic said...

ooo, EFL teachers in China, I'd say that you were lucky. They treat us like pigs there.

As for bugs: You should see the size of the coconut roaches at the beach house here in Brazil.

G-Man said...

Do you have a set of kettle drums?
Have you ever considered getting a set?
Web people want to know!
I hope your feeling better Trini...G Sends his love. xoxox

Anonymous said...

How many years total did you live in Trinidad? and was this a US government sponsored program or some other organization?

Margee-Martha-Marsha Pick-One said...

What irony! I was just last night telling my husband about you and your time in Trinidad but didn't know why you'd gone there to live.

We were discussing the author Richard Feynman and how he and his wife traveled to places away from the big cities so they could immerse themselves in the culture of the people who live there.

So thanks, now I'll have an accurate answer for my husband regarding your time in Trinidad.

Logophile said...

That audiopost was fab, sucks that its gone.
Your bug stories freak me out a little bit too, yikes.

barefoot_mistress said...

What? You didnt wanna teach in Tianamen Square? Chicken! LOL J/K

Your peeps post inspired my peeps post of today!

Anonymous said...

OO an audio post would be so much fun! Happy Trini Day to you too, Miss Limey!

lime said...

g-man, no i don't have a set of steeldrums. i have one miniature one that could be played until the kids lost the sticks, but nothing full size. if i still lived there yes, i'd have learned how.

tc, we moved there sept '92 and moved back to the US dec '93. it was not a government program. we worked for a guy in trinidad who had set up a not-for-profit organization there.

ttfootball said...

oooooo now we know :)
Lime for somebody who live 1 minute from the EMR, San Juan, Omeara Road look "bushy" haha Anything as yuh pass Arouca LOL...its much more developed now tho ;-)
When I was in Primary school they used to have a subsidy, I remember having to go and collect a cheque, in those days they trusted children with cheques. Don't know what became of that tho.

Rusty Nails said...

I second G-Man...Do you have kettle drums? Can you play them? How's the weed down there...good stuff? (just kidding).

Sounds like an awesome adventure and opportunity to experience another culture. Makes one appreciate the good ol' USA...and Olive Garden! (As sick as this may sound, when we returned from Italy, I wanted to go to Olive Garden. It was American Italian but I liked it anyway).

Malnurtured Snay said...

sounds like a lot of fun! what, they don't have busses?

lime said...

tt, gyul, arima the 3rd largest city!!! an is you who tell meh i soundin real jokey wit meh acent. :P

rusty, see above for the answer on drums. i never sampled the local ganja so i can't comment.

malnutured snay, they have public buses but the school do not provide busing for students, no. no yellow school buses.

snavy said...

Any and all questions?