When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.
For the past three and a half months, the team has been living in the Papakaio community in New Zealand. However, Papakaio has become more than just our temporary residence location. In this small community there is a primary school next to the town’s City Hall. It is small enough to make you think it is insignificant, but it is nothing of the sort. Papakaio Primary School was established in 1867, and it is situated in the outskirts of the beautiful town of Oamaru. The student body is typically composed of about fifty students and a few faculty and staff members. The children are quite talented and full of joy; learning about more than just arithmetic and grammar. On any given day, you will find these little artists utilizing their creative skills in their local productions, sports, plays, and even their vegetable and flower garden they worked on as a project - for which they received a prize form the city Mayor! These students also have a rich Mãori heritage. According to Papakaio's school website (http://www.papakaio.school.nz) “Te reo Māori (the Māori language) is a vital part of Māori culture, and a defining feature of Aotearoa New Zealand's education system. No other country in the world has national curricula in two languages that are not direct translations of one another.”
The team has been busy serving at the school in several areas, including but not limited to the the arts. Music and the creative Arts are important parts of the curriculum, and a great outlet for these students in helping them excercise their talents and skills. The School Principal, Mr. Gary Shirley along with the rest of the faculty and staff gave colleague Taylor Haff the task of designing, painting and teaching the students to work on several projects. Colleague Sydney Kahle assisted her in these endeavors, while Founding Director Brian Schlottmann helped coach the school music band and individual vocalists for several presentations, as well as serving as judge for their talent show, and as videographer, and editor for their graduation ceremony. Co-founder Beba Schlottmann helped with photography, and assisted with vocal coaching.
When working with the Papakaio school children, you soon discover that they are great learners who adapt quickly to new methods, and are open to new challenges. They are bright, and loving, making the team feel fortunate to spend any amount of time in their company. As the team emotionaly prepares for their last few days of interaction with these amazing pupils, we can certainly say, our time with them has been memorable. Papakaio School's motto is one we can relate to: Whakatauki "E aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!" - "What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!" As we always say, “Love God, Love people!” -Sound familiar?