ST JOSEPH’S was one of my favourite learning spaces. Many of my most enduring memories were created there.
As a child, school plays and sports days, excursions and swimming lessons tickled my desire to never find an excuse to be at home.
Not to mention the musical production. I never had a starring role in any of them, I was always a figurine or backstage instrument, but I loved the rehearsals and the imitations and the fantasy. It was fun.
As I walked back into the school grounds of St Joseph’s International Catholic School in Port Moresby last Wednesday, the school that I had once found to be massive now appeared to me as a small, quite compact place.
And this time, I was not walking in with my backpack, distinct yellow bucket hat and brown striped dress. I had no lunch box filled with soggy jelly sandwiches shoved in my library bag.
But I did have a box of books in one hand. My 16-month old daughter was in the other.
I was at Joeys to deliver Trickery by the Crocodile Pool – the collection of children’s stories by Papua New Guinean writers originally submitted as entries to last year’s Crocodile Prize.
Ben Jackson had edited them and published the book, Paga Hill Development Company had paid for them to be printed, Keith Jackson had arranged distribution from the USA and now it was my job to deliver the box of books to my old school.
Since 2000, when I left, there had been a lot of changes made to the school. There was a new administrative block and my favourite playground sandpit was now home to two double story classrooms.
The old canteen was transformed into a new junior library whilst the old library was the senior library. I was pleased to see the children still having a keen interest in reading.
That was one of my fondest memories of Joeys, the library.
We were always encouraged to use it and it was compulsory that we borrow books to take home and read with our guardians.
I guess this is what really developed my interest in reading and my appreciation of how to use these materials to do my work efficiently.
There were also many fun activities the library would initiate to lure us: colouring competitions, toys and stickers. I was a sucker for the sticker books. Absolutely loved them.
I was ushered into the senior library by Ernest, the library assistant, and I handed over the books to the students.
I hope Trickery by the Crocodile Pool will be appreciated and devoured and I hope it will prompt these children to appreciate their culture and be reminded of the importance of maintaining the traditions that distinguish us from the rest of the world.
Here is a compilation of stories unique to us, something we all can relate to as Papua New Guineans. Stories worth being told and shared.
I left knowing I had done something meaningful.
I don’t know when I will get back to Joeys, but I know for sure that, in four years’ time, my daughter will also share these sentiments.