Monday, January 30, 2006

A few pictures from Mexican night and In-Service

This first picture is during the meetings during In-Service Training

This second picture is of Bob (Ropati) and the dog Ropati, and Cecilia at the meetings

This third picture is of the Lady Samoa 1, one of the boats between the islands

This fourth picture is of a Jica (Rumiko) and Cecilia at Mexican Night at Holly's

This last picture is of Bob and Pete at Mexican night

Friday, January 27, 2006

Meetings and Crazy Sandwiches

So, this last week was the Inservice Meeting for the Methodist Schools. We met Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Bob and I headed into town with our principal and the school's bus on Monday and stayed with Holly during those days.

So, basically what the Inservice Meetings were was just for all the teachers of my school and our sister schools on 'Upolu to get together and discuss lesson planning, exam writing skills, assessing students progress and to try and coordinate syllabi and tests between the 2 schools. It was interesting. First, it was nice because 2 other volunteers work at Methodist Schools as well as Bob and I, Cecilia and Peter. So we got to hang out with them and share experiences, and Bob and I got some great advice.

First Day
The first day we split up into Tech School teachers and Secondary (High school) teachers. I am both, but since I will have more Secondary classes, I stayed with those teachers. We discussed assessments and basic things. At one time we split into groups and had to evaluate a sample student project. It was a blast. I was joking with some of the women at the other school. They were speaking in Samoan, but I love it because my Samoan is getting a lot better and they love it when you joke back with them in Samoan as well. So my first day wasn't that bad, but Bob was starting to get frustrated because he still wasn't sure what he was going to be teaching exactly within the Metal Working department, if he in fact did have a counterpart, and what his syllabus would be. That night him, Pete and Cecilia (Tech teachers) had to write out sample test questions because their days topic concerned writing tests.

Second Day
The second day was a little frustrating for me because it was a lecture day in the Secondary teachers meeting. The man speaking was very quiet and slurred his words, and since my Samoan isn't the best to begin with, I just couldn't understand him. But, there is a Jika (Japanese Volunteer) working at that school, so I got to chat with her and get to know her a little during that part of the meeting. Which brings me to Bob's story for the day. He wrote his sample questions about sandwhiches. His first question that he wrote on the board in front of the other PCV and Samoan teachers was: "A B.L.T. consists of Bacon, Lettuce and what ingredient?" Options were: a) Tim Tams (A kind of cookie here) b) Taro c) Tomato or d) Tinned Fish
The other teachers looked at him and asked what a blt was. Then he explained to them that it stood for something. So they wanted to know what. So then he explained that the letters were the first letters of the ingredients in the sandwich. So they then wanted to know why he didn't write out the name of the sandwich instead of abbreviating it. He tried to explain that while yes it was made out of Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, it is still called a BLT. To which then they said it would make more sense to just write out the whole thing. But if he did that then asking what is the last ingredient in a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich wouldn't really be an effective question. I guess it's not a common sandwhich here. Okay, after that confusion he wanted to move on to his second question. Which was: "A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich has ____ ingredients." The answer is 3 of course. But, one of the teachers raised his hand and said that he thought there was a gramatic error in Bob's question. To which Bob thought oh no, I spelled sandwich wrong. That actually never came up. The teacher said that he thinks the question should read, "A peanut butter and jelly sandwich have ___ ingredients." Bob was pretty sure it should sound the way he wrote it, but he was being patient and listened; he just got confused. So, they have peanut butter sandwiches here. And they have Jelly sandwiches. But they were thinking what kind of crazy person would put the two of those ingredients together? :) They thought there were 2 different sandwiches. After all the confusion was over, the teacher called Bob a Fancy Sandwich Maker. So, we asked Bob if he would be willing to make us one of those Bacon, Lettuce and Tim Tam sandwiches later, since he does like to make fancy sandwiches like Peanut Butter and Jelly. :) Everyone had a good laugh over it all together. So, not all sandwiches are universal.

Third Day
The last day was my favorite. We were supposed to split into groups with the teachers of our same subjects at the other schools to try and coordinate our syllabi. I could not find the teacher from the Secondary school who teachers computers, and since Cecilia is the tech computer teacher, I sat down with her. Unfortunatly we had a problem. Her tech and primary schools are 2 separate schools. Ours is smaller and so it is still one school with both departments. I teach years 10,11,12,13 and Tech1 and Tech2. I have my tech classes about 3 hours a week each. Cecilia has them for 3 hours a day. Since I teach so many other classes, there is just no way I can meet with the tech classes that many hours a day. So we were unable to coordinate our syllabi, that is just too different. Then, I was being called because the secondary teacher of the other school had shown up and wanted to meet with me. I found out in fact that the teacher had resigned over the break and there was a new teacher that had didnt know computers as well that wished to speak with me about lesson planning. So we sat in the back of the hall and went over old lesson plans, planning books, old tests and the like trying to plan out some kind of syllabus. It was a blast. I felt like I was working finally. It was fun. Then my principal called me over and let me know that we had a new secretary that needed some help on her computer skills and asked if I could help her out a little. Bob's day was pretty good too. Turns out he will have a counterpart to train and work along side at our school, and they sat down together and wrote out a nice syllubus. So he got to finally get a good taste of what he would be working on out on Savai'i.

Other Fun News
So, now it looks like I will be pretty busy over the next term that starts on Monday. I am looking forward to it. Though I am sure all of my friends back in Apia won't ever see me once school starts. ALTHOUGH I will be back in Apia for the weekend of February 5th. For the Superbowl! Go Seahawks! My fellow male Peace Corps volunteers had no faith in them and look how far they went! It will be fun to chear for them and see them win the whole thing. ;)

So, last night we had a bit of fun. Cecilia and Pete came over to Holly's last night. Bob and I spent the night there. And we invited the Jica over and we made Mexican food. We found a few ingredients that are a little harder to find in Samoa, and cooked up some enchilladas, spanish rice and beans. So we had Mexican food in Samoa with a Japanese Volunteer. Bob started to plan what he considers his best idea yet; a "True All-Volunteer Conference." Where all the PC, Jica, Australian and French volunteers in Samoa get together and have a fun party. Play softball, a couple other games and just have a blast. I think it would be fun if it happened. We know some Jica and Australian volunteers well that could get it going in their groups... It could happen. That is Bob's goal while he is here. Well, one of the many goals he has. But that's one of my favorites. We'll see how it goes.

So, school starts Monday. But I probably won't start teaching until the next week. The first week usually consists of registration, cleaning the school, cleaning the school grounds and such. I am looking forward to it. I think it will be interesting just trying to see where I fit in and what school will be like compared to the states.

Until next time...

Pictures from January

Okay. First picture is of a water spout (small cyclone type thing) in the water outside of La La's house on Savai'i.
Second picture is a nice sunset in Apia.
Third is of Holly, John and Bryan in Apia dicussing things of very important matter.
Fourth is of Bob and I at Moto's house, saying a few words of thanks.
And the last picture is of Holly's fridge before I cleaned it out to make snowballs...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Snowball fights and dances

So I finally made it back home. I swear when I head into Apia for "A few days" it turns out to be a good long week. In my defense a dignitary from DC came into Samoa for a few days (read Marques' website for details on why) and my group (75) was invited to dance a few of our dances from the fiafia that we put on for the village at the end of our training. All of the girls from my group were going to do it, and so I decided to stay. Then I had every intention of returning on Friday. But since it is still the stormy season, and because certain volunteers thought it would be their job to distract me, I ended up staying another night.

But it was a fun night. I wanted to share one aspect of my evening last night. I have been staying at Holly's house these last few nights and her freezer has a few issues. It is never fully closed on the fridge part and never opens on the freezer part, so the freezer had stalagmites and the other ones going on pretty hard core inside. I decided to help her clean it out. As I was scraping off all of the frost I was playing with it and smashed one up into a snowball and showed Holly. We then decided that it would be a good idea to have a snowball fight. Another volunteer, Pete, was over and Holly, Pete and I ran outside with a few snowballs in hand. We saved a couple for the little girl that lives in the house behind Holly's and taught her what snowballs were and began a small snowball fight in the middle of the 85 degree weather in Samoa. It made the 3 of us feel a little bit like being back home.

School starts soon. I am looking forward to a nice change in things. Until I have more time to write...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pictures around my site

The top picture is a view from my house. Second picture is my school and compound. Third picture is my bed room. Next picture is of my living room. Fifth is of the road from our town. Next picture is of the store I shop at. Next picture is of Bob biking near our school. The next is the picture I promised you Christi (I am cooking in Bob's kitchen). The windy picture was taken outside of my door during the cyclone near us. The rainy one is taken out of my house too, towards the water. And the last picture is of Bob right outside of our school.

Pictures from the last trip to Apia

The top picture is of the waves on the boat on the ride home.
The next picture is of Josh and Marques waiting for the bus home.
The third picture is the centipede that we killed that crawled on Holly's foot.
And the last picture is of Josh, Holly, and Marques in Marques' lab.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Back Home

I had a fun trip coming back to Savai’i yesterday. I know I just posted something yesterday, but I thought this adventure was a blast and wanted to share a bit of it with you.

So I decided to aim for the 2pm ferry back to Savai’i. I thought if I leave Holly’s house (who lives aways outside of Apia) around noon I would be fine. It had been raining all day long off and on. It has been pretty overcast these last few days. Usually when there is a lot of rain people get worried a cyclone is coming. But there is a saying in Samoa that if there is thunder and lightning with the rain and wind, then there is no cyclone. The thunder and lightning has subsided, but we are still fine. I think we are out of the path of, but maybe on the edge of a tropical storm because it really has been windy and rainy and yes, a little chilly. (Keep in mind when I say chilly it’s still probably 70 degrees, but that wind and being wet makes it feel nice and cold.) Don’t worry about us when it comes to safety and cyclones or typhoons, the PC takes really great care of us safety wise…

So, went outside in the pouring rain with my huge bag and a bucket with more things to wait for 1 of a couple of different busses that will take me to the wharf. I ended up waiting with another man and his daughter. We started talking and the village they live in is the village I did my volunteer visit in. So we had a few common things to chat about. The bus they were taking would also go to the wharf, so I loaded the bus with them, and let me tell you it was crowded. When you get on a bus and have a lot of things, you leave them up front of the bus. It was already packed. My bags were placed in the isles where people weren’t already standing. The man I was chatting with got to sit down because he is older and they get seats, so he held my bucket for me. I was standing as the bus started taking off and I heard someone call me by my Samoan name (Tala). I turned around and a lady I had met while on the volunteer visit remembered me and told me to sit on her lap for the ride. So I sat down on her lap for the rest of the ride and did lose a good amount of feeling in my legs. Usually when buses get crowded here people start sitting on laps. But, the ride took twice as long as usual. Once we stopped at a gas station to fill up, but that’s pretty usual. Then, the driver stopped the bus and got out and the whole bus got up and went into a grocery store to go shopping. They all got off and got a coke or a few groceries, waited until we were all back on, and then headed off again. The lady whose lap I was sitting on and know had bought me a mango drink and offered it to me to drink later when I was on the boat. So, we started getting close to the wharf and the driver asked if anyone needed to get off there and about 5 people said that yes, Tala needed to get off there. So he drove me right up to the entrance and someone grabbed my bags and placed them by the entrance for me. As I was getting off the bus I had about 10 people say “Fa Tala.” This means bye. It was really cool.

THEN came the fun adventures on the boat. Since I was taking the 2pm boat, it was the smaller boat. This means that there is no upstairs enclosed place away from the cars. We sit in a little overhead covered area on the same deck as the cars. It was a very stormy day already so I knew the ride would be rough. Marques and mom, you wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Good thing you weren’t visiting me today. :) The boat was rocking so much that waves were coming over and things were falling over. Since it was raining, they let down a little tarp in front of us, but the rain was coming in sideways so it didn’t really help all that much. Because the waves were so high and coming over the side of the boat all of our bags that weren’t put in the containers up front got soaked. There was a stream of water on the floor, gushing over our feet getting us wet and our bags soaked. The rain was coming in sideways through the sides of the boats. I want to say windows, but they aren’t. For those of you on Vashon, like the “windows” on the lower deck of the ferry boats. A lady offered the guy sitting closest to the window an umbrella to hold up in front of it to try and block the rain a little bit. I took one of my lavalava’s (wrap around skirt) and wrapped it around my body to stay somewhat dry and to keep myself somewhat warm. It sounds miserable, but it was a blast. Everyone on that boat was laughing or sleeping. Thanks mom and dad and Jenny for sending that long sleeve shirt because it was the only one I had with me on the trip and I ended up putting it on to stay a little warmer.
So that was my fun day. Now I am back and already into the laid back swing of things here. Bob and I are going to go for a bike ride later if it doesn’t rain too much today. Other than that, maybe I will read some Neal Stephenson, try a few new baking recipes I received, or go for the bike ride with Bob.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Heading Home

So, after a good long while of just hanging out, I think it's time to head home. Other than the centepede encounter (I had another one last night), things were pretty much low key around here. Holly and I headed to Marques' house to help him with his cooking skills. It was fun getting to see where other volunteers in my group live and to see their labs. He has a nice setup in his lab as well. One thing we were joking about when we finish the Peace Corps is that we can put Head of Computers Department on our resumes, because we are the only computer teachers at the school. Marques has a nice view of the city from his place. We had fun making coke floats and eating some good cooked food if I do say so myself. :) Holly and I fried breaded chicken still on the bone for the first time. It turned out great. We had to show him that even if you haven't ever cooked it before, it can still be great.

Holly and I pretty much spent the next 2 days at her house. You would be suprised how much money you can spend when you head into Apia for the day, especially since she lives a good distance away from the town itself. I felt a little spoiled there these last few days because she has a tv at her place and gets ESPN on her tv. Most tv's just get one channel. It's not bad, and has movies at night, but it's always a treat to watch some sports. Feels a little like being home. We just got into a nice routine of hanging out, chatting, doing laundry and cooking. It will be sad to leave a little. We really get along well and I guess we are pretty comical while cooking together -- according to a few volunteers that stopped by that day.

But, it will be nice getting back to Savai'i and doing a little bit of getting ready for the school year. (I say that, but the odds of me actually doing it are pretty slim). :) Because I cannot get a few things on Savai'i that I can in Apia, my bag is also maxed out. I couldn't fit anything else in there if I tried. I expect to do a lot of baking and biking these next few weeks before school starts up. I might make it back into Apia once or twice more. Some other PCV's are involved in an NGO named Avanoa Tutusa, in which I would also like to get involved in. They are hosting a big Career fair for Savai'i and Upolu coming up that I would love to be apart of. We'll see how easy it will be to continue being involved once school starts back up again because meetings are in Apia and I will have a regular work schedule soon.

Oh, I have also been informed that the original Aggie is dead. So who knows who Holly and I met earlier. Maybe the lady that currently owns the hotel. Or maybe the real Aggie back from the dead. Either way, we still have a standing for a free meal at the hotel anytime we wish. Save it up for a day I am dying for a good meal. :)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Quick Update

Hey everyone. I am still in Apia. I just wanted to tell you about my crazy day that happened today. So this morning I got up a little later than usual, like 7:30am (I have been having trouble sleeping). Holly slept in until 9. Which is kind of a joke because that isn't really sleeping in, but seems so here. We were in her kitchen getting ready to head into town and she felt something brush across her leg and kicked it off. When we looked a centipede ran across the floor and under a counter thing. She freaked out and was a little shocked. (They are NASTY buggers). I grabbed the mortein (good bug killing stuff) and just started spraying. Finally it came out and came at me. I started yelling, Holly was on the chair yelling. The neighbors must have thought we were nuts. Finally it died in a pool of mortein.

Then we headed into town and started walking to the PC office. We stopped into Aggie Greys on the way (a high upscale hotel in Samoa) and asked to see a girl that works there that lives in the village we trained in. She was on lunch, but this lady that works there started chatting with us and asking us if we were PC. Turns out she is Aggie. She invited us to have lunch with her, but we had just eaten. It was cool.

Next we are heading over to Marques' house to cook him a nice meal. (He doesn't have the most experience cooking) so we are going to help. And it will be nice for me to see where he lives, since he has been to my house in Savai'i. It should be fun. I got my new camera recently (my old one was shot), so I will start uploading pictures soon. Until next time!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Manuia tausaga fou

That means Happy New Years.
I hope this update finds everyone well. I hope your New Years was fun. I do not have any pictures yet, because believe it or not, I have not been home yet since my last update. I came out for the holiday and then the country pretty much shuts down for about a week. Things just opened up again today. It's been fun, I am staying with Holly. She is great. We really get along well and she is a riot so she keeps me laughing. I think I might head home early next week. I just wanted to get a break from home for a little while and hang out with some of my group for a week or so. It's amazing, I thought that after being with them for pretty much 24/7, I wouldn't mind a break. But I miss them all! They are like family to me. I am so glad to have Bob right next door, he is a great person and really helpful when I start to turn a little psycho. And Josh and La La are close, and they are really fun too. I feel lucky in that sense. Living out on Savai'i, the nearest volunteer might be a good couple hours away.

So New Years was fun. We went to Lalomanu for the night. Marques put up some good pictures on his blog from that night. Go to his photo albums on the right of his site and see New Years. (Christi, if you want to see me cooking, but not a view of the skirt, click on his visiting savai'i photo link). The night was fun. I really got to know a lot of the other volunteers. We headed back the day of the 1st. A couple of us decided to head back to our training villages for awhile. I headed there too. My parents were at this huge church opening on Savai'i, so it was just my sister, her husband, and my oldest brother Tavita. We had a blast! We tafao (hung out) and all the young adults came over (age of my brother Tavita, 15) and we passed faitala (gossip)... It was fun. You could definatly tell the parents and little brothers were away. Holly, Josh, Mari and I all spent the night there and then headed back into Apia the next day.

It's been fun just hanging out and getting some down time in the city. Yesterday I met up with a lot of other volunteers and we went to a Sports Bar and watched the Rose Bowl. Bryan in our group is from Texas and so a few of us were chearing for them. It was a blast. Once again I deter you to Marques's website for a more detailed description of the day. :) It will be fun to watch the SuperBowl as well. Then I ended up playing a couple of rounds of Texas Hold Em with a few of the guys later that evening. I won a little, lost a little. It was fun.

So I am heading back to Savai'i later in the week. I just wanted to get some time in with a few others in my group and get to know a few of the other volunteers here. There are times I want to go home and times I look around and the people in my group and realize I think of these people like family and couldn't imagine leaving early. I mean, who would keep Bob on his toes, bike with La La and Josh, just act silly with Holly, tease Marques, laugh with Bryan, John and Ryan, an just be friends with those I couldn't imagine leaving behind. For those of you I had mentioned the struggle of wanting to leave, rest assured.