Posted by: scribe9 | September 25, 2010

This isn’t Spring Break

This weekend is the beginning of a two-week school holiday, and it’s spring, but it doesn’t have a special name.

I met with my Year 8s for the last time last week. One group had no set assignment, so I had them interview me about the US and then write an essay. They wanted to know about lollies (candies). They thought it odd that what they call boiled lollies are known as hard candies; I’m sure American eighth graders would think boiled lollies a silly name. They were surprised that the few meat pies Americans eat are bigger and include vegetables. They couldn’t believe that I had not become a fan of New Zealand (British-style) meat pies (sold out of special little heaters in convenience stores, some national and some regional brands), particularly mince (hamburger) and cheese. One boy said I needed to try his mum’s bacon-and-egg pie. He also assured me that Wattie’s Tomato Sauce (ketchup) was the best ever, especially on chips (fries). I told him that having grown up with Heinz’s ketchup, there’s a limit to how much nutmeggy Wattie’s I could bear to eat.

When I told them that North Americans drive on the right, they worried that I would have difficulty switching back (I don’t think so; I’m always trying to get into the wrong side of the car, I don’t listen to music when I’m driving in town because I have to concentrate on staying left, and when I got into the passenger’s side today I almost adjusted the rearview mirror). They also couldn’t imagine driving the length of California–which is the length of New Zealand–faster than 100km (63 miles) an hour with no stop lights, since there are very few motorways (limited access highways) here.

They were surprised that American Indians live on reservations, and that Indian languages aren’t used by whites at all; their school teaches Maori to any student who wants to learn.

The school is essentially a middle school and high school together, and is known as a college. They thought it funny that in the US a college is tertiary, like a university.

The other year 8s were working on ballads. One was writing 5 stanzas on Donald Trump, and another on Bob Marley. I was surprised they weren’t writing about Kiwis like Sir Edmund Hillary and Dame Kiri Te Kenawa.

The last three days of their last week of the term was to be spent at “camp” down in Auckland, visiting the zoo, the big museum, and other attractions. It’s strictly a Year 8 trip, but it seems odd that it’s not at the end of their academic year, in December, before they enter the high school years, and when the weather’s better.


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