This week I began volunteering at one of the local elementary schools – here they call it “primary school.” The school is a 30 minute walk (or 5 minute bus ride, if you can catch one) down our street. The school has no art program, no art teacher, and no art supplies. I told them I would help with anything, so I am assisting Mrs. M, a wonderful first grade teacher, in her classroom. They don’t have kindergarten at this school, so their first grade is equivalent to our kindergarten, sort of. I say sort of because it is like our kindergartens, but without technology (including copy machines) or even school supplies. There are 23 students in the class, all Bahamian and Haitian. Lots of Haitians have come to the Bahamas in the past year, and I think this class is about half Haitian.
My first day the principal introduced me to the teacher and in the midst of my introduction Mrs. M had to deal with crazy 5 year olds in her classroom. Somehow my name was lost in introduction/translation/chaos and for the entire day she called me either Mrs. Sinclair or Mrs. St. Clare… I am not sure which; the Bahamian accents can make things a little confusing. I let it go all day until she was yelling “St. Clare!” at me across the classroom and I wasn’t responding. Finally I remembered that that was my new alter ego and showed a little recognition of my new name.
At the end of the day, I finally corrected her – I think it would’ve gotten a little crazy if I had let it go on any longer. Before the students chanted “Good afternoon Mrs. St. Clare,” I told Mrs. M that my last name was Wilkinson and she just apologized and then laughed and informed that “Wilkinson is a Bahamian surname” (last name). Apparently I have the same last name as a few students in the class. Problem solved. And yes, I am officially Bahamian.