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Activities on Majuro: Part II

And then there are the kids! Human puppies are cute too.

Most of you know that kids and I wind each other up.. its a thing, and looking back, there may be diagnoses that indicate the obvious. Our longer stay in Majuro has offered me some fun times with children.

When I was at the pop-up vet clinic and handful of children were curious about ALL of it. The crated dogs, the bustling vet techs and the locals-plus-yachties schlepping cartons and unwieldy items. The first attempt to distract them only led to them bringing back more kids, asking for the same notepads and colored pencils for others. We returned from first round of dog-catching to a cadre of videographers outside filming the Veterinarian. Now I become the kid wrangler and I loved it. Like a pied piper I murmured ideas for some activities and skipped away from the film crew. I saw them fall in line with me then I sprinted away. They hollered and headed out like shot after me. I came to an abrupt stop and they bumped into my back like cartoon characters. I dashed away again and this was the game until we found puddles. Puddles are fun but we did not use them to splash. The game was a version of Simon Says or do as i do: feet together hop over facing front, clapping for every pair of legs that cleared it (clapping for every pair of legs). Then feet together hop over facing the side, then take a looong step over, then short run and jump. They were cheering each other along and coming up with their own variations of this game. Howls of laughter erupted but they were otherwise occupied.

The other group of children I'm enjoying hanging with are the kids coming together for a community production of the musical Oliver! Although it is the first in five years due to COVID, this is a longstanding tradition going back to 2007. An educator from Dartmouth comes out to Majuro each year with university students and rallies kids from different local schools to create a production and performance in the the span of 8 weeks. Professor Andrew started off doing Shakespeare but was persuaded more recently to do musicals. The speaking parts are in Marshallese and all the songs are English. It is quite a metamorphosis to witness. Initially an all-call is printed in the local newspaper and four days are allotted for auditions. Watching these kids come in barely willing to spell their name during sign-in for shyness with strangers, they are guided expertly in group exercises that crack open their giggling, wiggling shining selves.

I've been admiring the way that Andrew is respected and adored by the group. There is definitely a cultural element of respect for elders but the affection is obvious both ways.

Auditions revealed the cast, understudies and ensemble and the group reading began immediately. One hour for characters read

, going through the script, then one hour or more for singing and learning all the songs.

Their progress is striking and pumping up the volume seems incremental but is monumental given their starting place. What a joy to witness! On Opening Night, we will see new butterflies in big lights on stage that first week of March. Meantime, I'll assist with making peanut butter sandwiches for snack and painting sets as needed.

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