Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Schoolhouse at IME, Kimpese

Schoolhouse at IME, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.
This schoolhouse was at the nearby “big” mission, Institut Médical Evangélique. A large teaching hospital, the mission was then staffed by many different groups, as well as local folks. (It still functions today! Here is one link.) Our mission, Kivuvu, was located about 20 minutes away. The ride to school was often courtesy of Jean, who drove what she called a “dustbin” – a Citroën 2CV “Deux-Chaveaux”. The dustbin was a fun car to travel in since it bounced and jounced mightily over the dirt roads.

Many of the mission families had little kids, and so there was a tiny little school for mission kids established. The school taught grades K-5 in English and we had several different nationalities there. I only went for one year (1965-66) before I was sent up to Kinshasa to the American School, to begin 6th grade, although my younger brothers were able to stay. My teacher for that one year was Elizabeth Frazier, wife of one of the staff doctors. Her sons Tim (my age) and Tom (younger) were also in the school. I don’t remember that we had the grades segregated, so it probably functioned the same way as the traditional one-room schoolhouse in the States functioned. While one grade was taught, the rest either worked on their studies or if caught up, listened to the lesson.

I remember NOTHING of the lessons except confusion during math. I skipped over 4th grade and never properly learned my times tables. To this day, my math skills are more intuitive than literal!

As I recall the building consisted of two rooms, with concrete block walls, corrugated tin roof, and mahogany desks, chairs, and doors. Mahogany was the furniture wood of choice, and all the furniture was made right there at IME. Those chairs were heavy! Note also the papaya tree (we called them pie-pies) growing by the side of the building. 

Once the school put on a show for the parents, and one of the spectacles was a rendition of St. George and the Dragon. What remains in my mind is the wonderful green dragon costume that my mother made for me, as well as the applause when my dragon head was cut off (it was attached by snaps) by St. George. There is a delightful photo somewhere in the archives that shows my brother reciting the poem “They That Go Down To the Sea in Ships” by Sir Walter Scott, as his part of the show.


Anonymous said...

I recall the "Big" schoolhouse well. Tommy Frasier and I had 1st grade taught by his mom at their house. She was a great teacher, I remember mostly Dick and Jane and Green Eggs and Ham! Second Grade was mostly managed by Mrs Testerman as a group of several grades. I mainly remember reading time, and that my Mom did a craft class on Saturdays-I think she was supposed to be the teacher that year but somehow it didn't work out. Thankfully ,Mrs Testerman was great in a profession she had not trained in. Third Grade was the first year of the brand new School House! I remember hating Calvert School's spelling list and loving studying the Greek and Roman Gods. We would play on the Frangipangi tree I think the same one in the picture. Tommy and I were alone (except briefly someone else) in one room and the other kids in the other room-Was I that disruptive in class?? I recall poems from Silver Pennies-The moon it is a Griffin's egg, hatching out tomorrow night.....' as well as the song 'I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear, but a silver nutmeg and a golden pear..that I or we got ready for some kind of show. It was a great "Big" school for us "little Kids" still too young for the Dorms in Kinshasa to go to TASOK.

AmyEmilia said...

Funny what we remember, isn't it! That is actually why I started doing this... I have found that my memories are so different from those of my brothers and sister.


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