Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Quick break

I just wanted to do a quick shout out. Today we had a drop off where they drop us off somewhere on the island and we have no idea where because we were blindfolded and they say find this village that could or could not be near you. On the way back Bryan (who I was paired up with) and I happened to pass through Apia so we are stopping to check emails and send a quick update.

Things are going okay. I have been struggling a little bit in the village, but all the other trainees are so awesome and we all go through it. I am so excited to have 2 weeks left until the language proficiency test. I think I will get it no problem. I am starting to really pick up sentence structure. We are putting on a big fiafia for the village the last friday we are there. The girls are learning to dance samoan style and the boys are learning some fun ones too.

Can't say too much, I don't have too much time. But I wanted everyone to know Thanksgiving was great. We learned how to cook in the traditional style umu they have here, it is a LOT of work and we cooked a turkey in it. And after we were done we left the village and went to a really nice beach with the turkey and met up with group 73 and had turkey and drank ava anmd swam in the ocean and played and had a blast. It was the next best thing to being with family. These people will become my family here.

Love you all and miss you. For those who emailed me, I will send out replys when we get back from the village. I LOVE YOU! I am doing awesome. I am stoked to be a volunteer soon...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Off to Falevao for the last time

So the top picture is of my sister Folole (she's 21). She's holding her son David Junior Bryan. And my brother Johnny (age 2) is also in the picture.

2nd picture is on the way to Nu'u Lopa. One of the islands I visited on my volunteer visit. It's only accessible by fishing boat if you know that person.

3rd one is of the harbor on the island Apolima. Which I was very lucky to visit, few PCV's get there.

4th one if of my in a Sunday Puletasi on the island Manono. Bob (who I will be working with) is in the back.

5th one is from left to right: My cousin Herene, my brother Gaolo, my brother Marloki, my little brother Johhny, and my cousin Atesa.

Hey everyone,
So we leave for the village today. Heading back for the last 3 week stint. I think it will be hard. 3 weeks is a long time to be living there in Falevao with the family, but we have each other and it will speed by… I am hoping.

Yesterday we had the all Volunteer Conference. It was fun. We, the trainees were there and the volunteers leaving in a few weeks were there as well. It was nice to get to know some of the other volunteers a little bit better. Not that I don’t love my fellow trainees, because I do and we are a great group and really supportive and funny, but in training we do see each other 24/7 and so it is nice to talk with other people as well.

Today we are having our Thanksgiving lunch with the rest of the volunteers because the actual day of Thanksgiving we will be in the village. That’s the day we put together an umu (over thing they make) for our village. I don’t really know what that entails because I have never made one before, but I will let you all know when I get back. Also, I think this is cool, one of the days this week, I forget which, we are going to catch the palolo. It’s a reef worm that comes out of the coral twice a year, once after the full moon in October and then again after the full moon in November. Last time we were in the village and had just arrived. This time we are going to try and be apart of the catching of the palolo. It’s like a delicacy here. And you go out at midnight and wait until low tide and something else and then it’s supposed to rise and you catch it in nets that look like snow shoes. And the worms are really bright colors. Like bright blue. Should be fun. We also have our language proficiency test while we are in the village too. So I should come back fluent… Just kidding.

So I will be without email or phone access for 3 weeks. We should be back early mid December. I am not sure of the exact date we get back, but check out some of the other websites. I know they have it…

Until I am almost a full fledged volunteer…


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back from Apolima, Manono, and Nu'u Lopa

So, I just got back from my volunteer visit. I stayed with Karen, a current volunteer. She was a lot of fun to hang out with. Her district includes all of the minor islands in Samoa: Manono, Apolima, and Nu'u Lopa (the last once in the uninhabited one). I had a blast. And I know I am lucky because very few voluntees get to visit these islands in the hole 2 years they are here.

The last week in the village was not too bad. I am starting to fit into the grove of my family and am starting to get used to how they operate day to day. My language is getting better. I can't pretend that I don't understand them anymore. They know I do. When I went to visit these islands the last few days, in Apolima no one spoke English (most people here do), and I learned SO much. So did the volunteer I was with. We did a lot of hiking. I hiked around Manono Island. It has 50 families on it and about 4 villages. Apolima has 1 village and 9 families. On Apolima we hiked to the top of one of the mountains (it used to be a volcano and so is a crater shaped island with the harbor in the center, where the village is). There is a solar powered lighthouse on top of one of the mountains and we spent some time up there because it was a little cooler. Karen was working on a few projects out in the islands and I was lucky enough to follow. And the other volunteer we were with, Lafi, is who Bob followed around. Bob and I will be at the same school on Savai'i. We got to swim around and look at coral or lack there of in Manono because Lafi is working on a coral restoration project.

It's been a good last few days. We return to the village on Saturday. This time we will be gone for 3 weeks straight without coming back. So you won't hear from us for awhile. But I plan on putting some pictures on the site tomorrow or the next day, so I will be in touch before then.

Miss ya all!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Back from Falevao and off Again

Hey everyone, I arrived back in Apia Wednesday (Aso Lulu in Samoan) afternoon. So, if any of you have read other volunteer blogs, you might wonder why they have updated their site and not me. Well, I have been on the island of Savai'i these last few days. Yeah. I found out my assignment. I will be working at Uesiliana (pronounced Wesliana) College (but it's more like a private high school.) It is located in the district of Satupaitea on Savai'i. I will be teaching computers to year 10, 11, 12, and 13. Year 13 is the hardest; they have to take four nation wide tests each year throughout the year, and then an entry level test at the end, which pretty much says if they get to go to college or not the next year. It seems like a pretty set schedule and teaching curriculum. I think it will be hard because I am replacing another volunteer that did a pretty good job these last few years. I will probably get compared to how Travis did it often. But that's okay, he's a cool volunteer and I think he set a good example of volunteer behavior. Another volunteer will be there with me, Bob. He will be teaching Metal Working at the tech school. He has a counterpart, but they don't cover a lot of materials. And as other trainees are finding out, he won't have a lot of tools to work with. In some cases the students get tested on material and safety for tools they have never used before. Maybe he can help get a grant or something. About an hour walk or 20 minute bike ride away Josh will be stationed at the Marist Center in the town of Palauli. But they live nearby in a little compound with other volunteers. One current PCV and an Australian volunteer and a Japanese volunteer. I will be over there often to hang out.

The village stay was okay. At first I really struggled with my family, getting used to different living situations. And communication proved a problem often, my family didn't understand why I walked with the guys all the time, but the village is so spread out in fact I only lived near some of the guys: Bryan, Marques and Andrew. It was an interesting week. Marques's site has more in depth details about the village stay. We head back out to the village today, Saturday, in a few hours for another week. We get back next Saturday. It's taken me awhile to get online and check and respond to emails. Things are busy when I get into Apia. We are swamped with language classes all day long and then during lunch we have to eat and find a few minutes on line (which ends up longer because the connection is slow--pictures are near to impossible right now), and mail any letters (which have to be individually weighed and then stamped). I am not complaining, I am just letting everyone know that email wise, I might not get back to people for awhile. So, we head back to the village on Saturday and then head back the following Saturday, late evening. We have one night in Apia and then stay with other volunteers for a few days just to get used to what it is like to live in Samoa. I think it will be fun. And it won't
nessesarily be on Savai'i, probably won't be. We'll see. Anywhere will be fun.

My birthday was awesome. The other trainees here are great. They had gotten together while we were still in Apia and had put 6 hours on my internet account as a gift for me. And they bought me a Samoan Barbie and some candy. They already know me that well; And they had the trainers pick up cake and ice cream for me. THEN, my family in the village had put together a big thing for me back at the open air fale. They invited all the trainees and some of the other villagers and the pastor of the town (which is a HUGE deal) and had a little party. The pastor said a prayer and read a little scripture and my parents served ice cream, cake and a lot of food, and then gave away lava lava's (wrap around skirts) to all the other trainees. (Men where lava lava's here too). And they made me get up and dance. It was fun; it made me not miss home so much on my birthday.

Let's see. What else? I am actually starting to like taro. Though I don't want to, it's not all that good for you. I love some of the food here. Coconut is growing on me too; it's so much better when it's fresh. Palolo is a delicacy that is only available once a year. It's a reef worm that rises
from the coral once for about a week in October. It rises at midnight and usually comes in October right after a lot of lightning. I had some of it in Satupaitea when the principal served us some. It wasn't that bad. It is defiantly an acquired taste, though.

I am really enjoying getting to know some of the other current volunteers and getting to know those of us in the group a little better. I realized that when Josh, Bob and I went to Savai'i that was the first time that we had been separated in 3 weeks. It was nice to get some alone time and do something different. It is also nice to be back and regroup with everyone before we all head back out to the village. I will continue to try and keep everyone updated.

Las night was fun, more relaxed. We sat around in the hotel and chilled awhile. Not too many people went out to dinner, we ate from the nearby grocery store and drank some beer and watched a movie in one of the rooms. Although I did not join the movie, I tried to get homework done but that really didn't happen. Some days it is hard to feel motivated to study so much. Yesterday we had language all day long. Not even medical or safety and security. They usually break it up a little with tea and lunch, but language all day long can be a little tiring. My brain is fried. Not to bad.