Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hilliard Memorial School

Having been at Hilliard for a full term now, it seems like a good time to show it to you. First, a short introduction. Hilliard is a primary school, classes 1-6 and forms 1 and 2. Class 1 students are 5 years old. The school is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and is in the heart of Nuku'alofa, the capital city. We have more than 400 students. It is an English-speaking school, though many students come initially with little English.

My main assignment there is the library, which I am organizing, cataloguing, repairing, etc. (It's important for me to remember to keep it as simple as possible, so it can be maintained after I leave.) Almost all the books are stamped "obsolete" and "withdrawn," and they come from New Zealand or Australia libraries. Many are very old and worn out. I meet with each class each week, reading stories, and/or teaching them about a library and how it's used and organized. I've put up signs about the Dewey System for nonfiction, and I'll be starting to teach that to some classes during term 4. We'll see how it goes! We also have time to look at books and check them out.

The "Library Lunch" I have started is very popular, as students can come in and read and check out books during lunchtime, in addition to their weekly scheduled library time. My best customers are in class 3 and 4. Libraries in Tonga are rare, other than in some schools. I only know of one community library on Tongatapu, the island we are on. Reading is not a part of Tongan culture. The language was only oral until the missionaries came and developed a written language.

I am also meeting with class 6 students twice a week for English class.

I really like these kids, and the staff has been so welcoming and helpful. I've been learning a lot, too! Here are some photos of the school, students, and staff. Please let me know if you have any questions about the school. I know I'll be writing more about it in the future, too.

Hilliard Memorial School

Assembly on Monday mornings. Religious songs and the National Anthem are sung, and announcements made.

Some of the Form 1 students.

Library Lunch students.

Patsy, class 1 teacher, me, and Mrs. Satui, the principal at a workshop hosted by the Peace Corps.

Some of Hilliard's teachers. They're dressed in red in support of Ikale Tahi, Tonga's rugby team, that is playing in the World Cup.

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