Friday, September 28, 2012

Yard Work

Talofa lava!

Today we have a school assembly for remembering the victims that died in the Tsunami in 2009. The tsunami only hit Tutuila, so everyone on Manu’a at the time was fine, but a lot of people have family over there, so everyone pretty much knows at least one person who died because of it.  Each of the classes had to put together either a song, poem, or skit. My class will be singing Amazing Grace, they’re the cutest.

Yesterday was a really cool day. I was done with prep work at the school by 3:30, so I came home and I found Logoleo and Asila doing yard work at my house. When people here cut the grass, they use a weed whacker; there aren’t any lawn movers. Imagine cutting your ENTIRE lawn with a weed whacker. Then, when they are finished whacking, they literally sweep the pieces of grass that have been cut into a pile. This is super labor intensive, but everyone does it. It usually takes 2 days to do someone’s yard. Needless to say, as soon as I came home from school I went out to help. I was sweeping the grass into a pile so that it could be burned. In my backyard, I have a pretty thick forest; there are coconut trees, bread fruit trees, papaya trees, and cotton trees. When Leo and I got tired we would wander into the back yard’s forest and go hunting for fruit. We climbed coconut trees to cut coconuts down with a machete. We cut down cotton to make pillows. We even cut down some coconut leaves because he said he needed to make something. When we were done, we came back to the house, sliced open a coconut with a machete and shared the water.  Then, he taught me how to make a traditional Samoan basket with coconut leaves!! Here is the finished product!!

How cool is it that I climbed a tree, chopped off leaves with a machete, and then weaved a freaking basket. Pretty sweet, right? I also got some quality time with Leo, which was nice. He told me he is going to teach me how to go fishing by throwing a net. After we stopped working around Sa, I came in and showered and got ready to go back to their house to hang out. When I walked out of my house, this was the sunset.

No, this isn’t photo shopped. This is just the sunset. It looks like pink and blue cotton candy resting on the mountaintop. How did I get so lucky? I get to live in this place for a year (well only 8 more months now), when most people will never experience this kind of beauty in their entire life.  After I went back to their house to hang out, they kept on calling me a ‘strong girl,’ which I think is funny because all I really did was sweep, which might be the most traditional woman job I can think of.  I think it’s safe to say that I’m starting to become more and more part of the family. I spend a lot of time talking to Mealofa, who is Neta’s 5-year-old daughter. She is helping me learn Samoan and I am helping her learn English. She definitely helps me not miss my nieces and nephews as much because she reminds me a lot of them. She has Caleb’s curiosity, Rowan’s sass, Ben’s love for sports, and everyone else’s charm and adorableness.
Those are my only updates now. Until next time. Tofa se fua, alofa ia te oe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Almost Perfect Weekend


Even though I'm 6,000+ miles away from home, I'm still an American. I just sent in my absentee ballot (my first one ever!) and I'm excited for this election to finally be over. It turns out that I am able to do a lot more here than I originally had thought and planned, although it takes a little bit longer than what I'm accustomed to. For example, I sent in a transcript request form and student loan deferment request via snail mail because our fax machine does not go off island. So even though it took my transcript request 4 weeks to get back to Ann Arbor, I finally got confirmation it was there and processed. So even though I did a lot of work before I left to get everything together, applying to law school is really hard from abroad. However, slowly but surely everything is falling into place. Hard to imagine that a year from now I will be sitting inside a classroom being a student once again. Now that I've been a teacher for a little bit, I understand how good the students have it. We just go and listen. We prepare all necessary work, but our job is to learn, not to teach. This is one of the reasons why I'm so thankful that I took a year off. I now have a new perspective on learning, and while I'm sure it will continue to change as my year away from home progresses, I'm already grateful for the things I am learning.

This past weekend was great. Although Michigan lost, the game was broadcasted here!! I had an almost perfect Saturday. I woke up early and went on a long walk/run by myself all the way to the ocean. I walked on the beach and just sat on a rock and looked at the waves for a while. Taking in everything. I'm still in awe of the constant beauty I'm surrounded by. After going back home, I was able to skype with some people back home. I then went swimming with the family. We sat in the ocean, ate papaya, and saw a whale swimming in the distance. Then when I got home, the football game was on! Totally unexpected, but I was able to cheer and cry along with the rest of my fellow wolverines. The reason why I say this day was almost perfect is because MI didn't win, but if they had, this would easily be one of the coolest days here. I'm loving it. Sunday was wonderful as well. Skyping with Patti, Rick, Caleb, and Rowan, and then my Mom, finishing lesson planning, and spending time with my adopted family. Sunday evening Mama and Papa surprised everyone with ICE CREAM. We were sitting outside chatting and all of a sudden out comes bowls of ice cream. It was funny because I was just telling my mom how I haven't had ice cream in like 2 months and I was craving it.

As you can see, things are going well here. I'm enjoying my village, the people, and constantly learning new things. I'm also starting to slowly understand when people are talking. I can put simple sentences together, but it is harder than it seems.

I'm very excited to come home and see winter in less than 3 months. Miss and love all of you. Wish you were here. xoxoxo