Third time's a charm

 I began third grade at ELWA. ELWA was a sort of large mission compound which I believe was run by SIM (Sudan Interior Missions) It was on the coast in Monrovia, Liberia. We were between villages at the time and living in a third floor apartment near The Institute for Liberian Languages where my parents worked, also in Monrovia. Maybe compound isn’t the right word. That sounds a little too David Koresh. How about campus? We’ll go with that. On the ELWA campus there was a hospital, radio station, church, publisher and K-8 school as well as 50-100 houses where all the doctors and missionary families lived. Most of the kids were ex-pats. The majority of them being missionary kids and a few embassy kids, and a number of Lebanese kids whose fathers were well to do business men.

It was a warm climate school so instead of hallways you had awnings and sort of sidewalks. Think 90210 or Malcolm in the Middle. You were always in close proximity to the great outdoors. In fact some days if the wind was right you could here a bit of the ocean and nearly every day you could smell it. Not many kids can claim this as part of their educational history. Having this sensory memory is very comforting when you live in MN. In fact just last night my wife and I were watching Blue Crush (which we end up renting every winter and finally bought €“ bringing our total movie collection up to 6) and as the opening credits rolled and the surf pounded I could taste the salty air in the back of my mouth and feel it caught up in my nostrils. Thanks ELWA.

Anyways, you might think the most memorable moment of my one semester at ELWA would’ve been having a line in the all school production of Psalty’s Christmas Calamity. But you’d be wrong. You might think the move halfway through the year to Medina and going back to home schooling would’ve somehow been the ultimate third grade memory. Wrong again. No, what I remember best was sitting at my desk working on multiplication problems; between problems staring out the window across the grass at the fifth and sixth grade class rooms. The layout of the school was sort of U shaped around this grassy area. And because we didn’t have air conditioning our rooms were lined with levered windows. So essentially if you stood in the middle of the grassy area and spun around you could see the entire school. And they could see you. And they could see me, as I jumped up from my multiplication work, sprinted out the door and puked halfway across the grass.

Posted: March 17th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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