Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The last day of the school year in Sāmoa is called Prize-Giving. I am not an expert on the topic, seeing as I have only been to one, but I have heard about others, so I feel I can make some generalizations.
The students spend the last month or so of school learning dances and songs (all the finals are in late September-early November, but school doesn’t end until the end of November). These songs and dances are presented to an audience of parents and family and the village (if it is a village school).
The students also receive prizes based on their ranking in their class. For the Prize-Giving at our village school all the students for each class were called out in order according to their ranking. The top three students received larger wrapped prizes and the rest of the class all received the same prize. A lot of the prizes, surprisingly, were kitchen utensils: water bowls that are used for hand washing after meals, juice pitchers, platters, etc. There were also a lot of candy and trinket-type toys as well.
The kids’ dances were great. One of our host brothers was in several dance numbers and you could see him really getting into some of them and having a good time.
Most of the dances were by grade-level and a donation bowl was set out during the dance. Parents would run up and put money in the bowl during the dance and at the end of the program how much money each class had raised was announced. I didn’t realize that so many dances were going to be fundraising, so the first dance with a money bowl got 2 tālā and there wasn’t even a kid from my family in it. After that I caught on to the concept and gave the remainder of my monies to the dances with my families children in them.
Something really nice that the principal of the school did was that she called up the Peace Corps trainees in the audience to help hand out the prizes to each grade level. She tried to make sure that we had a grade level with one of the kids from our family in it.
The eight-year-old girl in our family got first in her class and the 11-year-old boy got the award for most improved. The Prize-Giving went on for three hours and got pretty exciting and rowdy at times. It was a great experience.
Posted by Cale