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A Community of School Mates

My school years were seen out at a strict Catholic convent in the Salisbury city centre (Zimbabwe) where academic or sporting prowess was king. I was neither. I was more middle of the road, still trying to find my way even into adulthood. In fact, having my nose in the middle of an adventure story like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or Secret Seven was more my scene.

So, if one combines a not-really-interested academic and minimalist sporty attitude with a preference for made-up companions, it was pretty much a recipe for isolation whilst I grew up. Therefore, it was easy for me to pack away my school experiences once I married, had children and left Zimbabwe, and in fact, the African continent.

Deirdre, my mum and I

Returning to Africa - my birth place - after seventeen years of living in Australasia was an interesting experience. I’d seen my mum and sisters over the course of the years, but I hadn’t seen any school companions since just before I left. I reached out and was delighted to catch up with a dear long-lost schoolmate whom I’d kept in touch with into my adulthood but then had finally lost contact. Yet, how easy it was to slip into that close friendship. The time flew by as we chatted about the past and our present life. The photo here is of my gorgeous friend Deirdre Peel (nee Turner), with my mum and me. How wonderful it was to catch up!

A surprise outcome was the invitation to a Facebook community of previous school companions from the Dominican Convent, that I attended in the seventies and eighties. How extraordinary it has been to discover that adulthood and life experiences has taken away that awkwardness, and instead revealed, on many sides, an eagerness from many to reconnect.

We are spread out now in different parts of the world – Australia, Europe and America although over fifty percent remain in Africa. Our memories of bygone days may be slightly different from each other but perhaps it is the fact that we are survivors and have a link that can never really be broken. It is there in the most familiar history book - our brains. For each, it may be flavoured with varying perceptions. But, there is almost a sense of romanticism upon recalling childhood events. I am a different person now but many of my traits were shaped by those twelve school years and my interaction with my classmates.

Marisa Parker - Author


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