By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
THE start of the 2018 school year, while it might not bode well for many students, is a time of joy for the rest of them. In all grades, from little kindies to university and college students, the emotions that come with this time of year vary in degrees of either good or bad.
I took leave from work this month to be with my children who were about to start the school year. Shopping for uniforms and other school stationeries was also on our list of to-do things. Enrolment time finally came and went and as I sat back after the formalities were over, my mind drifted back to my early school years, especially my first day at Gordons High School (now a Secondary school) some years back.
The memories of that day still stand out in my mind because I suddenly found myself, barely into my teens, alone in a strange new environment as my parents were busy with other things. I graduated to Gordons from Waigani Community School. My days as a primary school pupil were very much sheltered as my home was close to the school.
I was 12 and had never moved around the city without one or both of my parents with me, least of all, caught a PMV on my own before. I now found myself at the main bus stop. This was the start of a new school year, and a new routine. “Why did my dad have to go to his office and my mum to the primary school with my younger siblings,” I thought.
Back then, there was no ordered bus service like we see now. PMVs operated on routes of their drivers choice. Getting to my new school now meant that I had to get off at the Boroko Motors PMV stop, and walk all the way to school, come rain or shine.
Disappointed with my parents, and scared as I was of being alone, I tried to dispel the bad thoughts so that they did not completely ruin my day. A part of me was also excited as I looked forward to seeing my school mates who also might have made it to Gordons.
Upon entering the school gates, my nervousness and fright heightened. None of my mates were anywhere in sight. To add salt to the wound, every other new grade seven student seemed to have an adult guardian with them. I was alone among new grade sevens from schools all around Port Moresby. Everyone else seemed excited, I thought. The feeling was not mutual.
I felt out of place and distressed. “How will I cope in school? Will there be bullies? Will I make new friends?” I pondered.
Not long after, senior students came around to brief us on the registration process.
I recognized some boys who had played against us in the Under 12s school soccer competition. I tried to strike up a conversation with them but they ignored me and moved away (we are now lifelong friends). Just as I was sinking back into my depression, I caught sight of my dad in the crowd. Boy, was I glad. With my dad proudly by my side, I went to register and we were informed that students would be sorted into different grade seven classes at 1pm.
We had about three hours to go so we waited at the assembly grounds.
To my utter disappointment, my dad said he had to return to work. “What! Couldn’t he stay with me for a couple more hours?” It was heartbreak all over again for this young man.
Nevertheless, 1pm soon arrived. I finally heard my name called and joined my new classmates and the butterflies flew away and never returned. Even to this day, those classmates that I met that day have remained my best of friends.
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK