Did You Know

Update on volunteering in the Solomon Islands by Torin Price

Hello from the Solomon Islands. Here’s an update on my progress in my year teaching in a secondary school in the South Pacific.

My school is Selwyn College, it lies on the western side of Guadalcanal (the main island). The secondary school is church run and has an enrolment of roughly 700 pupils, although the campus was designed for half of that number. Last year I was teaching 150 students, meaning I’d taught over a fifth of the school. Please don’t ask me to recite all their names, I think at most I got about 50 of them pinned down. This year, since I’ll be teaching longer, I might manage 100 at a push.

The subjects I covered were a mix of Maths, Physics and Agriculture to 4 different classes. Maths was the most enjoyable by far, this may be true because it was the only subject, I had comprehensive knowledge on. I do have my advanced higher in physics; however, I was teaching it to that level, but with added topics I’d never seen before. Agriculture was my mistake. I thought it would be a good idea to teach a subject I’d never been taught myself. It probably would have been fine except the teaching notes I was given were a muddled confusion which left me spending hours trying to link up the topics. Next year the most obvious subject to teach again would be Maths, but I may be tempted into teaching Physics again.

The first month spent here is probably best described as hitting the ground running. Prior to coming here, I had only taught two 40-minute lessons. So, with this lack of knowledge, it meant trial and error was very much my style, little by little though I’ve begun to improve. I think the skill I’m becoming most proud of is my use of chalk on a board – not sure I’ll get to show this off back home mind, not very many blackboards anymore. Overall, teaching is a great experience that comes with highs and lows.

The people of this country really are what make it special. The open warm heartedness of the people is amazing. Everywhere you travel to you’ll be given a warm welcome and probably some tea and crackers. People here are very curious to find out where I’ve come from. Even asked “does your home have lions?”, a real question! Even though they speak a slightly altered version of English known as Pidgin, conversations are easy because the language is a mix of poorly pronounced words and the rest is filled in with onomatopoeic words. Sadly, BREXIT does make it into the conversations sometimes, even out here nobody is free of it!

In this country it may be Elizabeth who is Queen, but Christ is King. EVERYONE is a Christian. I myself break that trend, however this hasn’t stopped me from involving myself in the community. Nearly every Saints day is celebrated by the various religious communities. The celebrations take the form of a morning service followed by breakfast which is immediately followed by feasting and finally, once you’re stuffed, traditional dancing to top it off. The dancing is not very serious, but some do dress up in traditional gear such as tree skirts and war paint. After trying it I’ve decided it is like a work out so perhaps Zumba should send some scouts out here.

Solomon is the most chilled out place in the world. Everybody enjoys a laid-back lifestyle in which they are able to do enough to get by and then spend the rest of their time relaxing. Now this does sound nice and for a period of time it is great, but after a while you’ll start to become restless and want to do more. This brings up the idea of Solomon Time. It is unlike the time we know in Britain where we always work against the clock. Out here you’ll find the clock is often replaced with the sun meaning everything becomes a bit unreliable. You’ll make plans in advance to go somewhere, or do something, only for it to be changed about five times and cancelled minutes before it is supposed to happen. Solomon Time in small doses can be great, but too much of a good thing leads to a negative.

Living here has really opened my eyes, and not only to poor time management. The difference of being brought up in a developed country is huge. At my accommodation we don’t have: a microwave, a washing machine, a fridge, definitely no internet, and in fact electricity is only on from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. Without these, life sure is harder but you learn to live without. Comparatively so this accommodation is fancy compared to the average Solomon Islander. This experience really makes you thankful for what we have in our country.

Okay for those of you who are still scratching their head about where the Solomon Islands are, they’re a tiny set of islands that lie at the most eastern tip of Papua New Guinea. This means that they sit well within the tropics and experience the stereotypical coconut and golden sandy beach image. I’m finding it rather hot, though I’ll hold back any complaints because that’ll sound really hypocritical since I complain about the dreich Scottish weather. A bonus from my time here is that the sun has left me with a 007 tan (Sean Connery style).

The South Pacific is a hotspot for natural disasters. Thankfully all we’ve had was a cyclone which only brought down some trees. With the “Ring of Fire” nearby and as experienced it is occasionally visited by a passing cyclone, I am unsure if the Solomon’s are a very safe place to live. We’ll just have to wait and see if anything happens, though personally I hope not.

Humans though could be said to be a natural disaster of their own. In the way they are steadily altering and effecting the world out here. The problems include vast amounts of logging run by Malaysian corporations; the sea is viewed as the world’s largest waste bin, and rising sea levels cause islands to disappear. It’s sad to see but it alerts me to the need for more to be done. It is my aim to host a world environment day at Selwyn College this year to highlight the issues we all face as a result of our actions and often our laziness. Here there are a few attempts to reduce the impact of rising sea level, these are building concrete walls to protect vulnerable land from the waves and to plant mangroves to absorb the energy of the waves. Hopefully these will be successful but really, they shouldn’t be needed in the first place.

Christmas was a unique event for me this year. Very different to the traditional family, turkey and crackers I am accustomed to. I went to a Christmas service, slightly taken aback by the bells ringing out. And as usual there was a feast followed by dancing. This by itself was all very nice but it was later when we met up with two of the Selwyn teachers and were boated off to one of their villages that the most enjoyable experience took place. Christmas Games 2018. These games were held in various places in the village and were to continue up until New Year! The day’s events were blind tasting beer where both men and women took part for their respective teams guessing which beer they’d just tried, and secondly there was canoe racing which I’m sure doesn’t need any explanation. The racing was intense to stay the least, with one man passing out in the triathlon version. I think he was okay in the end – they dragged him off to a cold shower. This really was a Christmas to remember, even though I forgot it was Christmas Day.

Finally, I’d like to say thank you to my family, friends, donors, people from Kippen, you I disturbed by ringing your bell and asking for sponsorship, and everyone else who has supported me. For the record, I’m having a great time! When I return, I intend doing a presentation, but until then you can find updates on my progress through my Facebook – either my personal or fundraising page – or my Instagram account – torin. price.

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Did You Know

Broadband

A brief update on broadband activities in the Kippen area:

  • Most of you will have noticed (and been held up by) the installation of a fourth fibre cabinet at the roundabout on the A811 just outside Rozel Cottage, and its connection to Kippen exchange. As usual, we have no details of its exact purpose from either BT or Openreach, but it is not unreasonable to assume that it will provide much greater connectivity through the telephone connection to surrounding areas – Boquhan, Station Road, Carse farms – and may now offer a reasonable alternative to wireless in these areas.
  • There are still a number of outlying areas which have no, or very poor, broadband connectivity. The government programme, R100, aims to bring superfast broadband to all properties by 2021.  Surprisingly for a government programme, there is commitment but no plan or schedule as to how this will be achieved.  This project is currently out to tender (to be awarded “sometime during 2019”) and may be accompanied by a voucher scheme once implementation commences.
  • And finally, if the cabinet to which you are connected claims that it is “full”, you are encouraged to register demand with BT and additional cards will be added.

Stuart Thomson

Did You Know

FVL LEADER/Crowdfunder UK

FVL LEADER have just embarked on a new project with Crowdfunder UK to coach and mentor community groups and businesses in the rural area who are thinking of undertaking Crowdfunding campaigns.  It is called Crowdfund Scotland (it includes other LEADER areas too).

The project has just started and a first workshop was held in January in Stirling. There will be more workshops in the next 18 months. The workshops are suitable for anyone who wants to find out more about this method of fundraising and the potential uses for local projects. The workshops will explore match funding available for projects in Stirling, and beyond, via Crowdfunder and how you can access this.

Topics to be covered:

  • What is crowdfunding?
  • Introducing Crowdfund Scotland
  • What are the benefits of crowdfunding?
  • What makes a good crowdfunding project?
  • Three steps to success
  • Accessing advice and support

 

Keep a watch on FVL LEADER website for news of further workshops www.fvl.org.uk

The Crowdfund Scotland project is being part‐financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme.  For further information visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/funds.

 

 

Did You Know

Life of Learning

I remember asking my father what some of the funny symbols were in his books we found in his grocery store. My parents bought, and still run, a grocery store and livestock feed business in a tiny village in South Dakota. Many of my childhood memories are of Larson’s Feed & Grocery. On that day my brothers and I were in early primary school, we found Dad’s algebra and geometry textbooks from his teaching days. I vividly remember sitting at his desk to be taught algebra before we had even learned multiplication at school. He has patience by the bucket load and took time to help us learn.

To this day, I have a soft spot for geometry, because of the experience of my daddy teaching me its beauty even when it was hard. I will admit I did pursue other academic loves as I grew up, but the love of learning started at Daddy’s desk.

I know for some people learning has harsh and difficult memories of struggling at school or being punished for failing to achieve certain standards. But school isn’t the only place of learning. From the moment of our birth, for as long in our life as we continue the practice, we are learning new skills, new abilities, new thoughts, new challenges.

One of the aspects of my life now as a minister is to help people learn about God and God’s love for them and the whole world. And the best part is that I’m continuing to learn along with people of all ages, as God is seen all around us in creation, in each other, and in our relationship with God.

When Jesus was alive, he shared many stories and experiences with the people who followed him. One day after Jesus had been praying himself, some of his followers asked him ‘Lord Teach us to Pray.’ (Luke 11:1) And Jesus shared with them a prayer that we still use today and maybe you memorised too. In the weeks leading up to our Easter celebrations (and maybe after too), some of us in the local churches are looking at the words Jesus taught his disciples on prayer that we call the Lord’s Prayer.

I love learning new things about Jesus, God, the Bible and God’s love for the whole world every day. I love learning by asking questions and growing in my relationship with God. I find prayer a helpful tool as I try to understand life. Prayer is my wee blether with God. Prayer is my studying life at God’s desk struggling to learn new things. Prayer is time with God who loves us as beloved children.

Whether or not you believe what I believe, I hope you are learning every day, you are challenging yourself to grow in not just your favourite things but also something new. I hope in this season of planting and blossoming you will experience wonder and awe in the beauty of creation.

Happy Easter & Blessings, Ellen

 

Did You Know

Rural Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)

A new booking system for the council‐backed rural transport service (DRT) has been launched in Stirling giving customers a simpler and more flexible way of booking and managing their journeys.

Registration and booking requests for DRT can be made at http://www.stirling.gov.uk/drt, allowing users to manage journeys 24 hours a day/7 day a week.

Phone bookings can still be made Monday to Friday, 9am‐3pm on 01786 404040.

Did You Know, Uncategorized

SUMMER  2019 trips for NTS

All Day Trips start from Forthside Car Park near Gabe’s Diner

(Timingsare approximate)

Thursday 16th May 2019
Depart 10.30am Return 5.45pm
Day Trip to Arniston House
(Organiser Sandy Wilson)
Wednesday 17th July 2019
Depart 9.00am Return 6.00pm
Day Trip to Monteviot House and Gardens
(Organiser Bob McKean)
Wednesday 18th September 2019
Depart 10.15am Return 6.30pm
Day Trip to Pitlochry Theatre– “Blythe Spirit”

Did You Know

Have you heard of Frog?

Frog_02We’re delighted to inform you about the launch of FROG, a new national platform that aims to signpost citizens in every community, including Stirling, to the services, help, support, events and attractions that are local to them.

Frog was developed in partnership between Stirling Council and Glasgow based Frog Systems as a tool to tackle multiple health and social issues, including reducing loneliness, isolation, and to encourage citizens to lead healthier lifestyles.

Community groups are the life blood of any local area and yet many without funding or marketing skills struggle for visibility in their area.

Frog offers a simple but extremely effective solution to this problem. Every Community group or organisation across Scotland can upload a listing onto Frog for FREE.
Benefits of your listing on Frog
• Detailed Organisation profile
• List unlimited events
• Unlimited job adverts
• Visibility in your local community
• No set-up cost or fees
Visit Frog today

Frog does not seek to replace current group websites, rather centralise the information and signpost the local community to the opportunities available within their local area.

Best Regards,
The Frog Team
Switchboard: 0300 124 6868 l Email: connect@frog.net l Frogquarters, 423 Paisley Road West, Glasgow, G51 1PZ