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.


At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Christi said...

I love the updates Julya! Sounds like you had an awesome birthday with all that celebration. If the other PCTs knew about your candy and Barbie thing, you guys must have bonded. :)
How's Samoan candy compared to US candy? :)
Thanks for posting! We all appreciate it!

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Liz said...

Glad you're having a good time - you sound really positive, which I'm happy to hear. Keep it up :-) You'll do a great job of teaching - I'm sure before too long the students will be loving you! Big hug!

At 11:31 AM, Blogger gp said...

Talofa Julya,

I got to your site via Mari. She and I excahanged a few e-mails. I am RPCV Western Samoa group 24. I was stationed in Palauli, taught at the PJHS and also worked for the ofisa o le mumu (elephantiasis). I left in 1980. Used to live with the family of Tiamalu and Feenuu Sefo, they are probably passed away by now. There is a former G-24'er running around in Palauli, last I heard he was working for the Marist, David Brindisi. He and I were room mates for awhile. Anyway good luck, you'll love Savaii.

Greg Paulson

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Julya Steyh said...

I think it's hard not to know someone that well after hanging out with them 24/7. I woudn't have it any other way! They are great and will be great friends.


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