Many students thought meeting a "marine" meant they would be interacting with an ocean biologist. But after greeting and hearing the introductions of the 20 or so marines that came to IPCS to help trim trees, remove weeds, hang tiles, and paint, our kids knew "marines" as an arm of our nation's military might - the soldiers that bark "U-Rah!" when they are feeling stoked. The whole school even learned how to say "U-rah" to the approval of our soldiers.
I got to direct 10 marines in duties to help our school. I took them to rough landscape I saved just for them - riddled with rocks, pokies, and a sharp decline, I can not take students to maintain this part of campus. I thought the marines would slaughter the weeds and battle the uneven ground no problem.
Then I found out that one of the cannon gunners was scared of spiders. He almost refused the work after his inquiry about spiders revealed that they do indeed exist on our campus. He stayed to work with me after I explained I could not protect him if he was with the other working group.
It was a hot and humid day. After glancing over to see our 3/4 graders taking a break, I asked if any of the marines would like to try some of our school grown fruit. Tools were immediately discarded. Students were invited to harvest items they thought our guests might enjoy. Children scurried across campus to gather guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), oranges, Buddah hand. Students even brought fennel and mint; their favorite leaves to grind fresh from the garden.
The marines were champs - they nibbled fennel leaves, munched mint, loved fresh oranges, and devoured lilikoi. I relished in watching our students select meaningful foods to share with our new marine friends. The children got glee from watching these massive men suck on fennel branches with smiles and words of amazement.
The marines ended up bailing work and joining in school play. Some went to the music room, some marines joined extreme sports to play campus-wide Capture the Flag. These big men were running around like gazelle bounding off bleachers, scaling rock walls in one leap, and running around with huge grins like oversized fourth-graders. Smiles everywhere. High fives all round. Sweaty fatigue from hardy play.
A deeper understanding that big boys masquerading as young men fight our wars. Adult baby boys fire our cannons. Man-children wage our nation's battles.
I am full of joy that our students shared love and lilikoi with our marines.
Ms Krista says:
Everyday encounters with real garden sprites; tortuous panorama of the surf; old-growth collards; machete lessons; mantis rehab; pesto pasta. Days as a public school garden teacher on the Big Island are filled with unexpected gems of wisdom and infinite inspirations. Introducing my life as a school garden teacher...