Alumnus Kiran Swamy ’12 Missionary to the Solomon Islands

My time here in the Solomon Islands has been arguably the greatest experience of my life.

I’ve always had a passion for doing volunteer service in developing countries and communities. When I first saw the email from Kellenberg saying they needed volunteers for teaching English, I knew it was something I had to inquire about because teaching English abroad had always been an experience I wanted. The decision to go was easy after hearing of the positive testimonials of Father Tom, Brother Tim, and Clare Carroll.

Upon arrival, I had a good idea of what to expect in terms of logistics. Internet would be limited, showers would be cold, the diet would be simple. It took a few days to fully adjust to the new lifestyle, but it was an easier transition than I thought. The accommodations are beyond adequate: privacy, food, and a clean living space.

Despite being in a very different environment, I have never felt unsafe while being in Honiara or Tenaru. The culture in the Solomon Islands is very inviting, and it’s appropriately nicknamed the “Hapi Isles” (happy isles).

I was tasked with teaching the 1st year seminarians at the Holy Name of Mary Seminary in Tenaru, which is adjacent to Rick’s school called Nazareth Apostolic Center (NAC). I majored in Social Work at Sacred Heart University, so I’ve had experience in working in public schools. However, teaching is a whole new challenge. Teaching English is the 4th language for my seminarians. Their first two languages are family and local dialects. Pidgin English, commonly spoken in Melanesia, is their 3rd language. We covered different parts of English grammar (mostly the grammar that is taught at Kellenberg), with an emphasis on Active vs Passive voice and verb tenses. Pidgin does not have a past or future tense, nor a passive voice.

I also taught Methodology and Computer Science. Methodology included an emphasis essay writing, but also study habits. Both are new skills for the new seminarians, and requires time to practice. Computer Science had an emphasis on Microsoft Office, especially Microsoft Word.

My favorite thing about my time in Guadalcanal was learning about the backgrounds of my students. Most of them came from different villages in Guadalcanal, while others came from different islands. Learning about their cultural norms fascinates me.

The other thing I loved to experience here was the historical significance of the area. The Battle of Guadalcanal was arguably the most pivotal important for United States’ fight for the Pacific. There was a ton of bloodshed where Ricky and I were staying, and to be there for the 75th Anniversary was something special.
I’d be happy to answer any questions any potential volunteers have. Again, my 3 months in the Solomons has been the best experience one could ask for, and it’s opened up opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t do it. My email is [email protected].