Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Manono Trip Pictures

Clair, Me and La La all dolled up for church. White hats and everything.

The grandkids of the couple that owned the house: Junior-age 2, Josephine-age 1, and Si'u-age 5.

The dock next to the family's house that we stayed with.

Some of the women playing Bingo.

A nice shot on Manono Island

Island Trips and Meetings

These last few weeks have really flown by. I could start by saying that they have been busy, but then I feel like I always start my blog entries with how the last few weeks have been busy. So I will just say that time seems to be on fast-forward right now.

First, although Father’s Day in Samoa was the 7th, it was not for Methodists. Our Father’s Day is September 3rd. So, it was nice to still have the national holiday that Monday. We still had the break; we just had church as usual.

I haven’t really done a whole heck of a lot these last few weeks. School has been taking up a lot of my time. It is the end of Term 2 this week and like always I am preparing for my Year 12 and Year 13 CATs (Common Assessment Task). I have been busy trying to get the students ready. They are working with MS Access and it’s actually a difficult concept to teach, but they are getting it. In my Tech classes I introduced MS Excel and they love it. They are really getting the hang of it and want to learn Access next term. So, hopefully they will be prepared for the computer world when I let them go. Who would have thought that I would enjoy this teaching thing? Although I am still not sure if it’s what I want to do when I get back to the states. I have been thinking a lot about grad school or looking into working for UNICEF. We will see. I still have a long time to think about it.

Last Friday Clair, La La and I headed to the main town on Savai’i. We headed to Lucinda’s to relax for the afternoon. We ordered some food and sat out on the dock over the water. It is a really nice beach fale area with fales over the water. One of the ladies that works there used to go to my school, so she sat and chatted with us for awhile. It was a very nice and relaxing afternoon. The only thing that was sad was that it was a pretty windy day and I had worn my Vashon True Value hat to the docks with me. Well, a huge gust of wind came up and blew my hat right off my head into the water. It was very sad. It blew far away out in the water; else I would have jumped in and tried to rescue it. I was very upset because that is the hat that I wear whenever I go biking or hiking. Maybe I can convince them to send me another one… wink, wink.

Last weekend I went to the island of Manono again. Clair is leaving soon to go back home and her and La La had never been. The last time I was there I stayed with a family and we decided to try and stay with them again. When we got to the dock I couldn’t remember the name of the family or the village that they lived in. But, I could remember where their house was. When we arrived at the dock a man asked me where we were going and who we were staying with. I asked him to name the villages and he named one that I thought sounded familiar. I said we were staying with a family, but that I couldn’t remember the name. Just then a man walked down the dock and it was the father of the family I was trying to stay with. He remembered me and I introduced La La and Clair. (Samoan name for Clair is Talea). I didn’t have to ask him if we could stay because he offered his home again to us when we saw him. Samoan people are always so nice to open their homes up to people like they were family. It was very fortunate for us. The whole weekend just went smoothly. We stayed with the family for the weekend. There is no running water on Manono so we had to take bucket showers. We played bingo with the oldest daughter, walked around the island, saw the “star mound” that is pretty much gone, and just hung out with the family. We played with the kids a lot – Clair brought cards, hung out on the dock, it was a nice weekend.

Now I am back in the thick of teaching. I have this last week to make it through and then we have 2 weeks off between the terms. During the break I plan on visiting my family from training again for a few days and visiting a few other volunteers in their homes and villages. The second week is Teuila Festival. I wasn’t in country yet for it last year, but it’s a big deal. For those back home it’s a lot like the Strawberry Festival. Teuila is our nations flower and it is a festival. Schools and villages compete with traditional Samoan dances and there are food booths. In fact, I am helping at one. I am helping Avanoa Tutusa sell Funnel Cakes. It should be a blast. My school won last year or a few years ago and they are putting on a special dance performance in the evening. I am looking forward to it. Our school has really been practicing hard these last few weeks.

Alright, until next time…

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

July Update

I think it is about time that I sat down and typed out another update. I have to apologize because I think that it has been a long time since I last actually typed anything out. It’s not that I am crazy busy, I just haven’t had the time to sit at home and type out an update. I don’t like to type them up at the café because inevitably I never really say what I want to, and I don’t like to type up updates when I have friends visiting.

Now I have some time on my hands. It is a Sunday afternoon and since it is a day of rest, I have nothing pressing on me right now. I have time to type out a quality update on what I have been up to these last few weeks. Let me say things have been going great. I have been busy at school and busy hanging out with friends. It has been a good mix of fun and work and Apia and my village.

The end of July has been full of school activities. Bob’s friends, Alec and Danny Miller have been out here visiting him. They brought a flood of gifts for him (and me) from friends and family back home. They have added a fun twist to these last few weeks out here. School wise we had our Cultural Day and I had a lot of internal assessment tasks to give the students. PC wise we had meetings, going away parties, and BBQ’s.

Sara, Ethan and Mac Bar’s faamavae (going away party) was the weekend of July 22nd and 23rd. That Saturday a whole group of people went out to Italiano’s for pizza. It is one of my favorite places to eat since it is close the main area and it is food I don’t get on Savai'i. I love heading there. We all had a ton of pizza and after food headed for dancing to Paddle’s. I was having a hard time because my back really hurt still and I just wanted to dance. I kept going out to the dance floor to dance then having to go sit back down again, then recuperating and going back out… It was a fun evening. The next day we had a big BBQ at another volunteer’s house. I got to meet an old RCPV from Samoa, Charlie, from group 70 I think? I could be wrong. He was in town visiting Skye. We all hung out and talked about what has happened since he was last in country. I guess you don’t really think about it because you are in it, but a lot has happened. We talked about elections and the upcoming South Pacific Games, things like that.

Monday morning I had a breakfast date with Sara and Ethan. One of the last. It was special to me that they took time away from getting ready to leave to sit down and just chat and relax with me. I miss them, but they are great friends and I will see them on the other side. :) I had a few doctor’s appointments later in the day so I didn’t get to head back to Savai'i until Tuesday afternoon.

The last week of July was crazy at school. I had 2 major tests to give out in my year 12 and year 13 classes. After school classes and evening study time have started up, so I find myself busy at school sometimes all day. From 7:30 in the morning to 10:30 at night. It’s nice though because I have really been getting some more one on one time with my students and I saw the results of it in their latest test scores. I was really proud of them on this last one. Having that extra hour after school and then a few hours of study time at night really does make a difference. This last test was on spreadsheets (MS Excel). It covered a lot of formulas and functions I couldn’t have done before I had to learn them to teach them. I thought it was pretty hard stuff, but they did well.

Friday was our Cultural Day. Cultural Day is when all the teachers and students at the school get spilt into 4 different groups, called houses. Each house has to put together a few traditional Samoan songs and dances and them we compete against each other. It’s a big deal; each school has their own cultural day. They really get into it. They have been practicing after school every day for a month or so. Judges were asked to come in from around the area to judge dances, songs, outfits. Each house had matching puletasi’s for the girls and ie’s for the guys. It has been fun watching the kids put this together and sitting there with them during practice. My house came in second overall and won best outfits. It was an all day thing. We even had our Ms and Mr Uesiliana competition that day as well. I took a ton of pictures and even got up on the stage and danced a few times. At one point one of my students pulled me up there to dance and I thought, I might as well go all out. I danced whatever he wanted me to dance with him. The kids were dying. The rest of the week they all kept joking about how great of a dancer I was. It was just fun and nuts dancing, nothing serious. I think they got a kick out of seeing their teacher be nuts too.

That Saturday I had to head into Apia early (8am boat) for the VAC and Avanoa Tutusa meetings. I had a great afternoon in Apia and went out to lunch with Rosa, Holly and Cecilia. That night another volunteer and I went out to dinner at a really nice restaurant called Apeula Heights. If you are ever in Samoa, go there. It is up on the hill and overlooks the whole bay and Apia. It was definitely a nice dinner and a fun evening. Afterwards we hung out with the new group who had just finished another stint in the village. They had just finished eating pizza so we joined them and chatted for awhile. They had all just found out where their villages were and were getting ready to head out to their on the job site training in a few days. The married couple will be in a village pretty close to my own, so at least Bob and I will still have a few people near us when La La and Clair leave this year.

I headed back to Savai'i Sunday with Rosa and Derek. Rosa came out to stay with me. It was a lot of fun having her at my place. She watched a marathon run of the first season of the Sopranos. Since she lives with a family in her village, she doesn’t have a lot of chances to just veg by herself and watch movies. When we head to Apia it is a shared area so you can’t really just chill alone. So, when I was at school she wrapped up in a blanket and watched movies and had a good veg session. I am glad I can be there with Sopranos to help my friends out when they need it. :) We hung out in the evenings with Bob’s friends and played a few rounds of uno. It has been fun having Danny and Alec here. They are really laid back guys and it has been fun chatting with them and getting their opinions and hearing their stories. I have definitely gotten a good idea and a fair share of stories about Bob when he was in college. I like hearing about his adventures when he was in college. On Tuesday Rosa and I headed out to an Italian Restaurant on Savai'i. It is one of the only restaurants on the island and it isn’t in the main town area. We took a bus out to the restaurant and had lunch and a glass of wine. We sat and chatted with one of the waitresses for awhile and got to know the staff fairly well since we were the only guests there at the time. Rosa headed back out to Upolu the next morning.

This last Friday was a huge Samoan/English speech competition on Savai'i. Year 11-13 competed from all over the island. The year 12 English one was held at our school. The whole school was getting ready to have that here and there were no classes that day. The Year 12 and 13 test results for Computers, Maths and History were due that day so the principal asked me if I would head into Apia and drop them off for everyone. So, once again I headed back to Apia. I hadn’t planned on going in, even though there was an All Volunteer Softball game with all PC, Australians and JICA. I feel like I have been away from my village too much and I wanted to stay a few weekends. But, I found myself back in. On Friday night I stayed out of town with Julia and Mike at their place. They are both teachers at a school closer to the wharf than Apia. It was fun to see how they lived and what their place was like. I like visiting other volunteers; it gives you a better idea of how different PC experiences can be. We rented a movie and made popcorn.

That Saturday I really wanted to head back to Savai’i so I went into Apia for a few errands, had lunch with Rosa and then headed back home. I am glad I did because I haven’t really been around on the weekends lately. I haven’t been to church in my village in awhile. I went today and had some great talks with the faletua and a few students. Today after second service, one of the Year 13 students came by and wanted to chat for awhile. We sat outside my house and talked about what she wanted to do when she finished school (year 13 are seniors). We talked about Vashon and Seattle and what home was like for me. She is not in my computer class, but I have run into and talked briefly with her a few times. It was special. She told me that she thought I really cared about the students. That was probably one of my favorite compliments here. I felt very thankful to get the chance to get to know these students and to make a small difference with them.

This next week is a big workshop on Savai’i about HIV/AIDS. That weekend is Father’s Day here… I don’t know why it is different than in the states. It looks like the weeks will continue to be full and busy. I will try and be better about getting updates out. There was just a lot going on, but I promise to be more diligent. :)

Until next time…

Friday, August 04, 2006

More pictures

Sara and me at Paddle's on one of their last nights here.

Me waking up to some nice Starbucks coffee. They opened a place near the PC office... no. Just kidding. Mary, the RCPV brought some Starbucks coffee and cups for me from Washington.

Rosa enjoying a nice cup of Starbucks too.

Sala, Ethan and me at Marques' bash. Miss them!

Rosa and I at the Italian Restaurant on Savai'i. It's not bad.


Me, Marques and Mary (an RCPV from Group 15)

Bob eating a roasted marshmallow we cooked over my burner... thanks Liz and Grace for sending those!

Danny Miller, one of Bob's friends visiting... This picture is for Danny's mom. :)

Me and Meaalofa during Cultural Day at our school. We were in the same house so we had matching outfits.

Alec, Bob's other friend visiting from home. They are fun guys.