My first week of school is finished! This week was full of interesting adventures. Turns out school can be just as hard for teachers as it is for students. I am starting to be happily settled into my new home. I posted pictures earlier this week of my new bedroom, but here is a photo of the outside of my house. I have no idea why there are two front doors, but there are—so deal with it. I took this photo from the street this morning before school.
I’m not sure if you can see it or not, but the ocean is in the background. If you look out my front door, you see the mountain/volcano know as Mt. Lata. It is the highest point in all of American Samoa, not just Ta’u. Also we live on the side of it, so all we really see are trees… it doesn’t really look like a mountain to us because we’re already on it, not looking at it from afar.
Last night, right before Madeline and I went to go to bed, she came into my room and said there was a centipede on her laundry basket. I pretty much laughed at her and told her she would have to take care of it herself. I assumed it was the same size centipedes as we have back at home—not much longer than an inch. I was wrong. I went into her room to help her for moral support and this is what I found:
That thing is about 5 inches long. I was mortified. After several failed attempts to kill it and multiple murderous screams later, our landlord’s son came over to see what the deal was. Asila, the son, was out back behind our house picking coconuts. We told him about the centipede and he laughed at us and told us to just step on it. He then gave us each a coconut that he broke open with his machete and drove away. Both of us decided it was time to ‘man-up’ and get rid of it ourselves. Within 5 minutes of this decision we heard a knock at the door. Neta, a fellow teacher and neighbor came over because she heard we were trying to kill a centipede. She quickly walked over got the RAID and killed it. Like it was nothing. We felt really stupid, but also SO thankful for Neta. She has come to our house every night this week to make sure we didn’t need anything. There’s a thing in the culture here where the women do their own thing and the men do their own thing. Asila didn’t help us because I’m assuming he would have felt uncomfortable coming into an all women household without having male supervision. So he went and found Neta and asked her to help. He’s the greatest. Finally we fell asleep and I woke up this morning to finish my lesson plans. I saw ANOTHER centipede and killed it this morning ALL BY MYSELF. Like I’m a big girl. J haha
School so far has been different than anything I’ve ever experienced. This week we got out early every day. There was no set time and the teachers didn’t know it was happening, but the bell would ring and the kids would go home. It doesn’t matter if I was in the middle of a test, lesson, or game. The kids had to go. So I would wrap up everything and off they went. I’m starting to better know my students and see what they like, what they get, and what they hate. They are starting to understand our routine and I love seeing when they pick up stuff I taught them. I love that on Tuesday they didn’t know my name but today (Friday) they knew that before the bell rings to start school they should be sitting in their desk reading quietly and once the bell rings they do their journal for 15 minutes and then go sit on the carpet for our morning meeting. Routines rock, they rock even more when you get 7 and 8 year olds to follow them.
So every day the teachers get free breakfast and lunch. Some of it can be completely Samoan style, but other times it is just like I’m home. For example on Wednesday they served Crispix cereal and kiwi for breakfast then at lunch they served Pizza with spam and corn. Clearly it is just whatever they can scrounge up they serve.
My life now is pretty different. I went to bed last night by 9:15pm and I was up this morning at 4:15am. I was in my classroom by 6 and the kids arrived around 6:45. Every morning I am able to watch the sunrise out my classroom window over the ocean. Here is picture of my school. You can see the ocean in the background. My classroom is the first red door on the left of this picture:
I know I said I would post pictures of my classroom and here it is now that we have some work up on the walls.
My favorite part of my classroom is our constitution bulletin board. I’m a social studies junkie so when I saw a remake of our constitution I knew I had to have it for my classroom. On the first day, my students and I made our own constitution for our classroom and they signed it with their “John Hancock.” I don’t know if you can see their signatures or not, but here it is:
Because we knew school was getting out early today we decided it would be OK if the kids played a game outside. Our school is SO small, so 4th grade through 8th grade all play together and they surprisingly get along really well and there isn’t much bossing around by older kids. Here the kids are playing a game called Lepe. It is essentially baseball, but because there are no bats or baseballs they use their arms as bats and a dodge ball. You can see the base of Mt. Lata in the background and you can also see the roof of the church (the white building with beautiful windows.) The little boy in the second picture in the Jordan jersey is one of my students. His name is Ioramo, but he goes by Joe. Makes sense.
Well this weekend will be full of lesson planning, church, and getting to know my village. I spoke with some women that are going to take me “women fishing” tomorrow. I’ve also spoken to my landlord and he said he would find some man who spearfishes that will take me. Should be exciting.
Once I figure out my skyping situation I will be sure to let everyone know.