12-23 Melsisi had a Birthday

Presents were given out, though not to the school
College Lyceéde Melsisi (that’s the full name of Jason’s school) turned 25 this year. We had a birthday party.
Every term is opened and closed with a party. This year, the school closing party* was joined with the school anniversary to make one great big party. They held it on a Sunday and moved church two hours early to have more party time, it was that big.
We started with some opening talks while people laid out lunch. All the teachers and important people from the community got fed, which was great. While we were eating, there was lots of talking. I sort of zone out at these functions now, it is safer for my sanity.
There was a cake-cutting ceremony. It was a big fancy cake made by one of the nuns. They symbolically cut it and inaugurated the monument at the same time. I didn’t see any of that as I was busy eating the cake they’d put inside and didn’t make a big deal of cutting. I prefer cake I can eat to cake I can watch someone else cut. Can you blame me?
These boys did a very nice song and dance for the party.

Around that time, the band started playing. The band is a local group comprised mostly of guys from Lalbateis, the village next to mine. My co-facilitator from the PHAST workshops is one of the key members of the band. They recently went to Santo and played 3-4 nights a week for two months. The amount of practice time they got in really shows. They have improved. They also learned some new songs including Hotel California. There is something unique about a Francophone-Bislama accent singing Hotel California. “Wel-kem tu di otel kaleeforniya, suj a lovelee ples, suj a lovely fes….”

They start the dancing young.

After the band played, some more people talked. There was thanks to the founding headmaster, the first chairman of the board and the first teachers, all of whom still live in Melsisi. There were talks by each of them. There was a group of boys who did a song specially composed for the 25thanniversary, with hand gestures and everything. There was a speech by the current headmaster and the current chair of the board. There was some people who just seemed to want to talk into the microphone. A lot of it happened in French, so I really wasn’t listening. Then they had the awards ceremony.

She stepped out to watch for a few minutes.

Sometime during the awards ceremony, it started raining. When I way it started raining, I mean it looked like someone opened the fire hose. It was even falling at about that angle. The wind was blowing at about 45 degrees, just to make sure we were all as wet as possible. The students receiving their awards had to come running through the rain to get them. Here, it is hard to get people to do things that make them stand out, like go receive an award. For these awards, they had to run through a downpour to get to it. A lot of the awards were put in the office to be picked up later.

At some point, a guy went off on a tangent about a new bank that is opening in Melsisi. I think it is an investment bank but I’m not really sure how they plan on getting their promised returns. He was talking about 15% interest rates. Vanuatu doesn’t have stocks much less a stock market. I’m not sure how they are planning on pulling that one off. After way, way too long, he finally finished detailing each of the 8 products currently on offer and how this would be great for Pentecost.
Then we got to the good part, the part where they give us kava. Alexandra, Jason, Hayley and I drank kava with the guys from the band and the teachers who were willing to brave the rain. It was good fun. Jason pulled out the computer and started showing music videos. Michael Jackson was a big hit. Jason has the full version of Smooth Criminal and Thriller. Some of them knew the Thriller dance, though not all by any means.
There was kava.

And more kava

We topped of the night with a well-balanced meal of dry ramen and leftovers. Don’t judge my dry ramen. If it were as much of a pain for you to boil water as it is for me to boil water, you too would love your dry ramen. Especially when stoned on kava.

*Also called a break up party in Bislama, which makes me giggle. Some other PCVs were joking that it should be “we’re just taking time apart” party. What? I live on an island. I lack amusements.

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