“Every good story needs a strong conclusion,” says Mr Moyo at our planning meeting the last evening on the island of Praslin. “Let’s make our conclusion great!”
And that’s exactly what we did: we gave the story of our trip to Seychelles – a far-fetched dream which transformed, part through hard work and determination and part through sheer miracle, into reality – a great conclusion.
The trip ended with a visit to Praslin’s Vijay International School…and we couldn’t have asked for a higher note on which to end it.
The whole of last week the school had been preparing for our arrival and, by the time our two buses pulled up at the school – crammed with our ubiquitous luggage – the year 8, 9 and 10 students were waiting for us in the hall.
The CBC boys in their Number Ones, miraculously unwrinkled despite being carted over the last week by various modes of transport including bus, plane and ferry, were an impressive sight and, after a short introduction by headmaster, Mr Kennedy, it was over to us to give a video and slide presentation on Zimbabwe.
It’s hard to describe the poignancy of that moment in the hall today: seeing our boys sitting alongside the VJIS students, watching images of Matopos and Victoria Falls and Hwange with the background of an African drumbeat, and seeing the wonder in their eyes. It’s moments like these which make all the planning, the hard work, the challenges and the sacrifices worth it.
The Media Club presentation was followed by a clip from the 60th Anniversary Variety Show from the Drama Club and the students thoroughly enjoyed the three performances, especially the gum boot dancers.
After the presentation was over the boys were divided into two groups and led off to different classrooms where VJIS students had prepared a cultural exchange comprising workshops and power point presentations representing Seychelloise culture, music and dance as well as its history, flora and fauna.
The boys watched a demonstration of dancing and were then pulled on to the “dancefloor” to join in the sultry sega; took an impromptu art lesson sketching a baby giant tortoise belonging to Mr Kennedy – four years old but estimated to live for another 200 – and then took French conversation classes with the VJIS French teacher while our own Mrs Davies taught the Year 3s.
Our boys’ French conversation class centred on listing the contrasts between Zimbabwe and Seychelles: they mentioned the weather, the beaches, the language and then, in conclusion, the girls. Said Ndaba Mazibuko, with a characteristic glint in his eyes, “Ici les filles sont plus belle qu’au Zimbabwe.” Let’s hope the girls in Zimbabwe are forgiving of him on his return! 🙂
When the cultural exchange ended it was off to the cafeteria for break, during which our boys joined in an impromptu soccer match with their VJIS counterparts, and then back to the hall for assembly.
Our visit happened to coincide with an anti-drug drive with a group of students from La Digue and our boys listened intently to their message to youth.
Then it was time for our big conclusion: holding a Zimbabwean flag brought to be handed over to the school, the boys explained – in English, Shona and Ndebele – the significance of the colours and symbols, followed by a stirring rendition of the Zimbabwe National Anthem and the school song, Viriliter Age.
It was a proud moment for us teachers – and for the entire CBC family which they represented, so far from home on this tiny little island of Praslin in the Seychelles archipelago. And afterwards, when they chatted and laughed with the students from VJIS, we were reminded, once again, that when you strip away the language, the race, the colour and all the other superficial differences which separate us, we are, really, all the same.
If there’s one lesson the boys have been able to take away from this incredible experience, we hope that’s it.
This evening, our last on the island of Seychelles, the clouds are sitting low on the surrounding mountains, heavy with tropical rain…as heavy, in fact, as our hearts as we think of leaving this beautiful island. It’s an experience that has changed us all in a myriad ways, some obvious and some less so. But we’ll let you discover that yourselves once your boys come home and tell you all their tales.
Seth van Beek: The best part of the day was going to the international school and meeting all the students. I interacted with them as well as learnt more about the dangers of drugs. I also really enjoyed playing soccer with the other students at breaktime. We won 2-0 and I scored both goals…from amazing set-ups by Ndaba!
Ricky Shahzad: My best part was going back to Mahe on the ferry on choppy waters and not getting sick!
Jordan Edwards: The way the teachers and students were helping us to work out our sentences was great; they helped us with our confidence by giving us a chance to add our own opinions and then share them with everyone.
Malcolm Sithole: I would have to say the best part was when a girl from the school gave me her number…without me even approaching her!
Tino Msasanure: Today was a great day. We spoke to the students in French and then played the local soccer team…and beat them on their home ground!
Jacques du Plessis: The part about today which impressed me the most was the friendly welcome we received from everyone. I think the quality of classrooms was also impressive: they were very neat and tidy and there was no litter at all. I really enjoyed learning about their diverse culture, from dance to different languages.