Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This is Samoa

This was a title I was waiting to have until I had a good reason to put it as it. All of the literature I read from past volunteers talked about various illogical things happening and the people here in Samoa not really thinking anything about it. Dogs chase you and people just watch? This is Samoa. People stop you on the street just to ask how your day is? This is Samoa. You see 4 rainbows in one day? This is Samoa. Internet goes out in the entire country for a week and no one thinks anything of it? This is Samoa.

The last quirk I mentioned is what just happened to me. Internet here has been really spotty. It went out Friday mid-morning and didn’t come back on until today. People honestly didn’t freak out; in fact everyone went on with their daily lives as if nothing had changed. In a way I admire them for this trait. If this were to happen back in the States, shit would hit the fan. Everyone is so laid back here, an attribute that I’ve never been able to master. Because of this, I have a few updates to give you and the blog post is kind of long.

Here was a post meant to go up Sunday morning:
Finally. A morning off. Even though I still woke up on my own before 6:00am, I’m loving the fact that I don’t have to be inside a classroom by 8am. Yesterday afternoon we finally got to see a pretty big chunk of the island. We started off at 11:30 am and drove pretty far East. It was beautiful. We drove along the coast in this beast:

Yea, that’s the public transportation here. It’s an old wooden bus that blares music. We rode the whole way jamming to Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and the Temptations. Clearly they know how to party here. You just wave one down and hop on. Like I said in the last post there really is only one road, so you hop on one going the direction you want to go and then let them know when you want off. When you get off you throw them a dollar. It doesn’t matter if you’re going 2 miles or 20 miles, it’s $1.00. Once we got to the Eastern edge, we went swimming in a wharf. The water was SO WARM. But, me being me, I had to ruin the gorgeous day somehow and the way I managed to do it was by getting cut by coral. Now, the cut really wasn’t that bad. I was actually kind of excited by the tropical idea of being cut by something you can’t find anywhere near home. The novelty of it quickly ended as soon as I remembered all horror stories about the ocean—Jaw’s and Finding Nemo included. Sharks smell blood and that’s when they attack. I once again found myself RUNNING out of the water. While I know it was highly doubtful that a tiny scrape would attract a man eating great white, I wasn’t taking chances. So I spent the next little bit going around and catching crab, which was just as entertaining.

Here is a pic of me standing next to a giant rock along the way. Legend has it that this rock, along with one other right next to it, were once brothers. They had to flee the island for safety, but became rocks. I don’t really know the whole story. But it sounds like it must be true. Also, you’ll notice the skirt I’m wearing. It’s like a sarong, but it’s called an ie’lava lava and is traditional casual dress for women.

Here is another pic of the scenery we saw along the way. We drove all the way East and then all the way back West, so there was a lot to see.

After coming home from an exciting day, a group of us wanted to enjoy the fact that we didn’t have any place to be in the morning, so we decided to go out.  Now I know I told everyone at home that women don’t really drink on the island and that is true, but in the city there are a few more westernized bars where women come and drink. Luckily, there is one right up the road from where we are staying right now.  There were a bunch of palagi’s (white people) there, which is fine for a night, but I definitely would not want to make this a regular thing. I actually won’t be given that option because on Ta’u (the island I will be living on), there are no bars, even for men.  While at the bar I had the local beer; it was a lager and tasted pretty bad.  The best part about this bar is that at 10pm in turns into a karaoke bar, which is when the Samoans come out. It was awesome to hear men that could easily be mistaken for a real life giant to sound like Michael Buble.  Also, you’ll notice that in the pic of me at the bar I have my hair down. Here, people don’t wear their hair down; they only wear it in buns or ponytails because when your hair is down it is easy for evil spirits to get in. Whenever I’m out in public my hair is always up, so it was nice to be able to have it down, even if was just for a night.

(End of Sunday post. Here is what has happened in my life the past few days.)

On Sunday, all of us lounged around the campus. Sundays are meant to be a day of rest, so in the mornings you are supposed to lay low and go to church. There aren’t any catholic churches around and because I won’t be on Tutuila for very long, I decided to just stay inside Sunday morning. That’s one luxury I won’t have once I’m on Ta’u. So a group us played cards and even got out and played volleyball in the evening  with the locals. We played with a brother and sister and they were pretty great.  Obviously my team won. J

Monday was another busy day. We started with a lesson on long term lesson planning then we headed to Blunt’s Point. It’s a hiking trail that ends on a point with old cannons and unbelievable view.  We hung out there and talked about culture shock and how to readjust to living in a new country.  I forgot my camera, but I was able to snag a few pics on other people’s camera, so once I get ahold of those I will be sure to post. Then we spent the later part of the afternoon going over appropriate apparel. I need to get a puletasi made, which is a formal dress for women—it’s what all the teachers wear. Think of the most unflattering outfit you have, times it by a million and then that’s a puletasi. Once I get the fabric and get it made, I will be sure to post a picture of how ridiculous I look.

Today has been great. I started the morning out with a meeting with my principle. She let me know that more than likely I will be teaching 3rd and 4th grade, but at a 4th grade level. There are only 2 3rd graders in the entire school and 6 4th graders. That means my classroom will only be made up of 8 students, which is unheard of back home. I’m so excited to have so much one on one time and to be able to start them out early with constant English speaking in their life. Typically, only WorldTeach has students in the older grades and they don’t experience much English until then. While I did prefer to teach 5th or 6th grade, I am excited to have students that are excited to be there. We have the same standards and benchmarks as back in the States, but they are rarely met here and even if students don’t meet the benchmarks, they still pass them on to the next grade. I’ve heard that past 6th grade teachers have students at a 2nd grade level. This should be quite challenging. It’s weird because for the first time in 4 years I’m reconsidering if law school is the way to go.  (Mom and Patti- I don’t want to hear any “I told you so’s.”) This is still an idea bouncing in my head, but maybe a MPP, MSW, or even an MEd is the way to go. Who knows? Maybe I just will always travel and find new countries to teach in so I never have to go back to school. I still have time to figure everything out.

Just a head’s up, I’ve been having some issues with my cell phone and my minutes. Hopefully I will have that fixed soon. The way my phone works is that if you call me, it’s free (for me). If I call you it’s $0.12 a minute.  The issue is that they’ve been charging me way too much per minute, so I’m staying positive that my time on the phone with them and going into the phone company’s office will lead to it all working out.

Alrighty guys, that’s all from me. Hard to believe I’ve been here over a week. I’m staying busy and loving every minute of it, but missing all of you.

Until next time. Alofa.

1 comment: