Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Doctor's Appointments and the New Group

It has been awhile since I last updated my blog but things have been busy. I have traveled back and forth between the airport/wharf area and Apia 8 times in the last week.

On Monday the 5th of June school started back up again with the second term. After grading the mid-year exams, I decided that I needed to re-evaluate the lesson plans. There are a lot of activities that take place throughout the school year that take precedence over class time, and so I had to re-write the plans. I have a lot of leeway with my Tech classes and I really want them to get it instead of just passing through class. So, I decided to focus differently on what I would teach Tech 1 and Tech 2. They have to take both years and so I wanted to switch focus to more hardware and file management the first year and use the second year as software.

But, I was unable to start this new lesson planning since on Monday I received a call from the medical officer asking me if I could leave for a flight to Pago Pago the next day. I have been having problems with a tooth and there just aren’t the medical facilities here in Apia to really figure out what was making it hurt so much. So, Monday afternoon I hopped on the boat and headed back to Apia. My flight left early Tuesday morning. They weren’t sure exactly what was making it hurt so much, but they x-rayed it and there was no visible cavity. They thought that maybe my filling had a leak so they drilled it and found that there was no leak. When they had the filling out they saw a small cavity that wouldn’t be causing all the pain, but was still a cavity anyways. So, they filled that and told me to come back in one week if it still hurt. It did, but thankfully the pain has gone down. I am not sure what it was, but at least it isn’t hurting anymore.

I flew back to Samoa that same day I left and arrived in town too late to take the boat back to Savai’i that day. Since I was in town now on Tuesday night and the new group was arriving early in the morning on Wednesday morning, I decided to head with the volunteers to the airport to pick them up. We decided it would be fun to stay up all night while we waited for them to come. I don’t know why we thought that sounded like a good idea now, but we did it. We stayed up the whole night drinking Ava and playing Trivial Pursuit. We played so much Trivial Pursuit that we started making up our own rules to make it more competitive and last longer.

The group arrived at 5am, so those of us signed up to pick them up put on some nicer looking clothes and headed out to greet them. We gave them lei’s (called ula’s here) and took their luggage from them and got them back to the hotel. As I was getting my stuff in order to head back to Savai’i, I heard that they still needed a few volunteers to help out at the new group’s welcoming Ava ceremony. If you don’t remember from some of my first blog entries, the new groups are all welcomed in with an Ava ceremony. They sit there for awhile not understanding the Samoan and at the end they have to take a drink of the ava and say, “lau ‘ava lea le atua, soifua.” I remember when I first did it I had NO idea what was being said and we were sitting there for a long time cross-legged trying to sit up straight and remember what we were supposed to say. I know we didn’t say it right. So, it was really fun to go this time and watch a new group go through it. I understood the majority of what was being said at the ceremony, and it was fun watching them and remembering what I was thinking. I took pictures for the group and got a chance to talk to a few more of them.

Then, even though I was extremely tired, I had to head back to Savai’i. On Friday my Year 13 class was taking one of its CATS (internal Assessment test) and I had to get prepared for it and give it. So, Wednesday afternoon I traveled on the boat back to Savai’i and taught classes Thursday and Friday. Since the new group’s fiafia was Saturday, I had to head back to Apia on Friday.

Friday night was fun. I met up with a few volunteers and we sat on the balcony chatting and drinking ava. It was a nice cool down from the crazy week I had had. We had heard that the world cup games were playing at JT’s Sports Bar, so we invited the trainees and headed down there to watch the game and eat some food. However, when we got there, there was a rugby game on that was playing on every screen. It took precedence over the soccer game. We sat around for a while chatting with the new group and finally headed out to hang out near the office. A few of us ended up staying up pretty much the whole night just chatting and having fun. The next day I was trying to remember as I struggled throughout the day why we had decided to almost pull another all nighter. It was fun though.

So, now it is Saturday the 10th. The whole day consisted mostly of getting ready for the fiafia that night. The volunteers cooked the food and put on the dances, so we ran around trying to find ingredients before the stores closed and getting last minute dance practices in. I ended up making something with La La. I made a peanut butter cookie crust, and La La made banana custard that we put on top. It was SO good. I ended up helping another volunteer too. He was making fajitas and needed floor tortillas. I know how to make them, so I made up a few tortillas for him.

The fiafia was fun. I danced in the girls’ Siva and the sasa. The boys had 2 dances, a few volunteers sang, and we got the fire dancing guy to come back and do a show for the trainees, like last year. It went well. I think they enjoyed themselves which is really what it is about. Then after the dancing and eating we hung out the rest of the night just chatting with them and getting to know them. There are 3 other volunteers from Seattle in the new group, so it was nice to chat with them and talk with them about places back home that I am missing.

Sunday morning I had to head back to Savai’i. I ended up taking the same boat back as Vena who was heading back to her village for the last time. Vena is done with her 2 years of service in a few days. It is interesting talking to Vena as she is getting ready to go and hearing what she is thinking and going through, while at the same time reflecting on my own experiences so far by watching the new group coming in and being reminded of things I was struggling with and going through.

So, this week is going along okay. Monday Maka came out to visit Bob and me and we had dinner and hung out. It is nice getting visitors out here. Apia people are so used to it, but I love it when someone comes out our way. We aren’t on the main road so we aren’t visited as much. My Year 12 class has one of their CAT’s tomorrow that they are probably not prepared for, but we will see how it goes. We don’t have class Thursday or Friday because of a holiday on Thursday and a parent-teacher’s conference on Friday. I will be heading back to Apia on Friday to go hiking with a few other volunteers and go to the going away party for Brian and Vena. It will be sad to see Group 72 go. I like them all a lot and have gotten to be pretty close with a fair number of them. But, soon Group 76 will be swearing in and we will be getting to know them better and I am sure some of them will become good friends.

So, I am staying busy. Almost too busy I am sure. I have been enjoying my time in Apia lately and I have been getting to know a few other current volunteers that I never really knew before, so that is fun. School is just trucking along. I am still amazed that in a few days I will have officially one and a half years left. It is hard often. There are times I really don’t want to be a teacher. There are times I get so frustrated with things, but the other volunteers here are going through a lot of the same things and I have some close Samoan friends that make it so nice to come to and share when it is really starting to get to me. It might be another week or so until I can update this again; I find it hard to update my blog when I am traveling so much back and forth between the islands, but I will try. I think not this weekend, but the next one will be the last time I head into Apia for awhile. I have to go for the Avanoa Tutusa meeting, but after that I am going to lay low on this island and try not to spend so much money.
Until next time… :)


At 4:41 AM, Anonymous Dad said...

So, two all nighters and travelling back and forth between the two islands 5, or 6, or 7 times, with more back and forth travel to come. Ah, to be young. I'd be exhausted.

It must be fun watching this new group and remembering back 8 months to when you were first wide eyed. I wonder what it will be like 18 months from now?

Hope your tooth clears all up (or maybe it's time for a root canal).

Take care and keep your chin up.


At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's it like in Pago Pago? I've always liked that name. Is it worth visiting?

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

You sure are bouncing around like a basketball. Hope the boat rides have been smooth sailing. When will the new group be heading into the villages for hands on language training? Sounds like you need a couple of good nights sleep. Are you still biking after work each day? Bike a couple miles right before dinner and that should help you sleep. Did you get the email from dad? Let us know what you think about all the activity that will be going on. Bryan is getting ready to go back to Alaska soon, so we will be childless again. Your dad gets lonesome without you or Bryan around.
Take care sweetie, and don't wear yourself down.
Love You Lots

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Christi said...

So this is what they mean by burning the candle at both ends :)

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

Pago Pago is like a shadow of Samoa. It is pretty, but not as pretty as Samoa is. I would say skip Pago Pago and head to Savai'i for a true taste of Samoa. But, if you want to not worry about customs or a different country, then head to American Samoa.


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