Don’t Mention the War

As of the end of this week, the school year is over and Mitchell and Charlotte finally graduate out of their year levels after a year and a half of grades two and four respectively. Not that this has been a problem for them, they continue to be very happy at the school and we feel very lucky that it’s gone so well.

However, one thing that worked in their favour at the beginning has a flip side that has come to bite. Being an international school, the steady trickle of students coming in meant that ours were only ‘the new kids’ for about four days and this was great as they felt quite normal very quickly. Unfortunately, though, the steady trickle inbound also means that at certain times, there is a corresponding exodus and because it’s the end of semester, this is one of those times. Both the kids are losing a number of friends who are departing the country, and this has been a little sad. Hopefully it will only last until the first day of next semester when there will be a whole new influx and the holes are filled.

End of semester has also meant a gruelling schedule of duties that has driven us, (actually me), dangerously close to the edge of sanity. Aside from tests and projects to finish, there were events that included Portfolio Sharing, the Enrichment Fair and the Art Show. These just meant turning up and were quite manageable, but for anyone dumb enough (me) to think this might have been enough, think again.

Music presentations – yes, that’s one for each year level, so two concerts for us and meant organising costumes, (I hate costumes!), doing extra music practice at home and learning their script lines.

Festa Junina (June Festival) –  meant more costumes (!!) and organising ‘traditional food’ to take. The school was helpful and provided a list of food but unfortunately I was in trouble with the kids for buying Pao de Leite (dry white bread bun things) instead of Dolce de Leite (delicious fudge). Apparently all products leite  are not the same and guess which ones they took?

Pet day – (Pet Day???) When we got the notice for this, I can’t tell you how excited I wasn’t – talk about don’t mention the war. One of the smorgasbord of incentives we put in front of the kids to get them excited about leaving all they knew and relocating to a country they’d never heard of, was to tell them they could each get a pet when we returned. It worked but only to a certain extent. They were then okay to leave Australia (yay!) but now they want to return as soon as possible to cash in on the deal, and have spent a fair portion of the last seven months arguing about who’s getting the cat and who’s getting the dog. Pet day was a reminder that they are actually still petless and invoked another round. The next issue, was that pet day required each second grader to bring their pet along and do a talk about it. So because we do not have one, Mitchell instead decided to take a photo of the pet we left behind. Yes, our dearly loved old guinea pig Dandelion who has unfortunately just died. Hopefully it didn’t end in tears but I’ve been too scared to ask.

R.I.P Dandelion!  And a big hug for the lovely Caitlin and Michaela for looking after her in her old age.

R.I.P Dandelion!
And a big hug for the lovely Caitlin and Michaela for looking after her in her old age.

Oh and did I mention that parents had to accompany all pets and it was mandatory for them to have up to date inoculations? This was presumably so that when the inevitable brawl broke out, they didn’t give each other rabies.

Stepping back for a moment though, aside from the fact that we felt a touch bombarded by everything going on, each activity has been done with the students in mind and a lot of effort was put in by the staff. And, coming from the Victorian state system where resources are tight, the contrasting standard of art and music exhibitions was fantastic and the kids loved it.

In other news, the Confederations Cup has begun and as it’s a kind of precursor to the World Cup in 2014, (go Socceroos!!!), Brazil is somewhat in the glare of the global sporting spotlight and has consequently gone a touch mad. The public are using the opportunity to stage political demonstrations in all the  cities hosting the matches and unfortunately, although they are supposed to be peaceful, there has been a lot of violence. None of this has occurred in Rio, although this may change as there is a demonstration planned for tomorrow, and even as I write this, there is a helicopter gunship flying low over our end of Copacabana with a bloke sitting in the open doorway holding a big gun. The people on the streets seem barely to notice the constant presence of the navy, the military police and the helicopters, which indicates they’re used to them. For us, it’s a reminder of a level of volatility that exists here that unfortunately we’re never going to be relaxed with. Day to day safety is mostly fine with a few added precautions, but in terms of general safety and freedom to move around the city, there are significant limitations that contrast to what we’re familiar with.

However, it’s all part of the experience and it’s hardly the least safe place in the world, so we’re doing our best to go with the flow and not get too hung up on caution. After all, that bloke in the helicopter is there to protect us, right?

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