The people and random events that shape our lives (Part 6)

Soon after getting off the bus in Arima I discovered that you didn’t take the bus unless you were desperate. You took a route taxi. You piled into a car with a bunch of other people and for a fee of 25 cents (12 cents Canadian), you could go from Arima to Port of Spain (30 km). However, you had to be careful what you said. If you were too specific about where you wanted to go, the taxi driver would charge you a small fortune, even if the place you wanted to go was only a block off the regular route.

I taught math and physics to mostly form 4 and 5 students. At the end of form 5 (the end of high school essentially), students took their O-level exams which were set in the UK.

The physics class had a darkroom in the back so I started a photography club with the students. We wandered around, took photos and then developed them in the darkroom. I also took on the chess club and went around with them to play against other schools.

The students also talked me into being in charge of a show that they wanted to put on for their parents. There were plays, singing and so on. It culminated in a small group playing music but it was much more elaborate than I realized. It started around 7 pm and the last music group took over at 10 pm and played and played. The audience was dancing, all the students were dancing and it went on and on with no end in sight. I eventually had to pull the plug (literally); otherwise I’m convinced it would have gone on all night.

The west coast of the Island is almost all beach and surprisingly some students had never seen the ocean even though it is only 30km away Myself and a few other teachers bussed a group of kids to the ocean for a day and on the way back swam in a river that had a lot of little waterfalls and pools.

Another outing was a soccer match between students and teachers. I had never played soccer before and to the appreciation of the students I inadvertently scored a goal on their behalf.

O-level exams from the UK were held in the school with an invigilator to make sure that everything was above board. The physics exam included lab problems which a lot of the students had difficulty with. The particular invigilator for the physics exam was an old guy who could barely see or hear; he was oblivious to the fact that I was wandering around giving the students hints.

Students wore uniforms and teachers dress pants, shirt and tie. I started that way but then a glass fell when I was taking a shower and cut my foot so I had to wear sandals. Things went downhill from there. I ditched the tie and wore sandals from then on.

I enjoyed teaching and the students were a lot of fun. It was because of that experience that I went back to teaching again later on. I might have spent the rest of my career teaching except that a couple of events caused me to change gears and do something else.

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