|NEW ZEALAND'S EDUCATION
10 August, 2012
A group of sixteen Year 9 students from Kristin School have recently returned from a life-changing three week expedition to the island community of Poutasi, Samoa ? a village tragically impacted by the massive tsunami which ripped through the area in 2009.
After visiting the area in 2011, Carl Murray - Year 9 Dean at Kristin Middle School ? connected with Poutasi?s Chief, Jon Annadale and began to form a partnership between the local community and Kristin School. Together they created the Pasifika Project; a service-based initiative designed to provide long-term, ongoing assistance in the rebuilding and regeneration of Poutasi.
Poutasi still bears the scars of the disastrous tsunami. Communal facilities are yet to be rebuilt, classrooms function with minimal supplies and relocated community groups are still striving to rebuild their facilities in new locations, away from the water which brought such devastation to their close-knit community.
The first goal for the partnership was to collect donations of essential equipment and supplies from the Kristin community. These items included mattresses and bedding for the Poutasi community centre, sewing machines and computers for the primary and secondary school classrooms, mosquito nets, kitchen equipment and sports gear.
For months the Kristin community gave generously to the project, filling a shipping container with 14 tonnes of much needed equipment. The containers were shipped out to Samoa in June, with a group of sixteen Year 9 students and support staff following in July.
For three weeks the students lived amidst the Poutasi community. They distributed the donated equipment, attended classes in the local schools, formed friendships with local children of all ages, set up computers, installed goal posts, taught English and embraced the warm and welcoming culture of the local community.
?Our time in Poutasi has definitely been an emotional rollercoaster. It was so hard to say goodbye but we know that our relationship with these people isn?t over. We have now made a connection that will keep on going,? says Year 9 student Rebekah Dangerfield.
While this project has already made a significant impact on the lives of those involved so far, Carl Murray maintains that its success must be measured over a much longer time frame.
?The significance of this partnership is in the ongoing and long term goals of both communities,? he says, ?It has been important for us to make sure any work initiated by our students should be sustainable for the local community, and we are looking forward to welcoming students from Poutasi?s secondary school to attend Kristin during Year 10 as a part of our Pasifika Project scholarship programme.?
The Pasifika Project will now form a significant part of the service-based learning of Kristin Middle School students with future projects already in the pipeline for next year.
Further details on the activities of the students in Poutasi, visit the Pasifika Project blog; http://www.kristin.school.nz/web/portal/middle/pasifika-project/blog