Architect teaches Cook Islands schoolchildren

Wayne Hilbert taught math classes on the spur of the moment during a volunteer trip to the Cook Islands, a free association territory of New Zealand.

The CNH Architects principal was part of a group of eight that traveled to the South Pacific with Global Volunteers based in St. Paul. They worked primarily at schools.

Smaller children up through eighth-graders played rugby and soccer and got along very well, said Hilbert. Students called him “Papa Wayne.”

Some of the volunteers went to a larger school of 500 children, but Hilbert stayed with a smaller group. There was a great need for reading comprehension, and he was able to help raise the level for some from a four to a seven.  Each level represents a half-year of school.

Three of the volunteers were from Minnesota, and there were individuals from Seattle, Boulder, Colo., Hawaii, Ohio and Sydney, Australia.

Hilbert said it took about an hour to go around the island he was on, and there is a “gorgeous” lagoon.

Another interesting observation was that the children brushed their teeth after each meal.

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