Saturday, 18 August 2007


Students at the Teachers college on an outing to the sugar factory.

I still had a strong desire to live and work abroad so applied to VSO to work as a teacher. The Caribbean sounds far too easy a place to be sent to but that's where I ended up. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a relatively unknown group of islands near Barbados but recently 'Pirates of the Caribbean' was filmed there and Mustique, one of the Grenadines, has houses on it owned by celebrities. The main island of St Vincent, 18miles long and 11 miles wide. is a beautiful place which relied on bananas for exports. Tourism was limited.

A banana packing station

My two years with VSO were spent teaching primary teachers in St. Vincent Teachers College, a daunting prospect for someone with so little teaching experience. My main task was to teach maths skills to help the students reach a competent level. They would then have more confidence in the classroom. I was then required to visit various schools on the island and assist the students while on teaching practice (and grade them). This had to be the best part of the job and I was priveliged to see the schools and the great work the students did with few resources and large classes.

Eager pupils at one of the primary schools

Living and working there gave me a very different outlook on life. I stiill have very strong memories of the way folk struggled to educate their children. The children would emerge from their wee shacks, smart in ironed uniforms, with books and pencils somehow paid for by scrimping and saving. Great people who lived a much simpler, laid-back life than ourselves.

A typical wooden shack

My contract with VSO ended after two years but I then taught maths for three years at St.Vincent Girls High School before leaving this paradise to return to Scotland.

Boat to Bequia

Layou on the Windward Coast

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