Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November Update

It has been so long since I put a real typed update here, I am not really sure what to type… currently I am in Apia for one of my longest stints yet. I had to come in during the middle of the week last week for some training sessions for last week and this week for the new group.

Where to start? The trainee volunteer visit the beginning of this month was a blast. Laura came out to visit and her and I just really hit it off. Like I said in the last entry, we hung out, she weeded with my year 12 students, she taught classes one day for the same class. They love her. One of the things that they had to do for training was bring something back that was significant to their visit. When I was a trainee and visited with Karen I drew a picture. Bob brought back a leaf that reminded him of the visit. Laura was laughing that one of the items that Kevin (the trainer) had put on the list was a rock. We laughed about that for a little while and then I got an idea. I have my acrylics here in country with me. So we picked out 5 rocks and proceeded to paint them. We painted one for me, one for Bob, one for Laura, one for Wesley visiting Bob and one for dog. It was a riot. She made up stories to go with them, like they represented each of us and we couldn’t bear to part with them and we carried them around with us the whole week. Kevin now has them in a nice little row on his desk.

My students took their finals last week and my Year 12 class took their School C (Samoan certificate) test. The School C is to determine how well they have done in the Secondary level and if they qualify to go on to Year 13 (same as seniors). This is the first year that there has been a certificate for year 12 computers. I was a little nervous because I had no idea what would be on the test or how it would be worded. Usually the wording of tests isn’t that big of a deal, but out on Savai'i the majority of my students don’t have the grasp on the English language that some of the students in Apia do. So tests like the PSSC (determines if they go to a University –it was given today by the way) tend to be harder for my students just because the English is tough. Well, half way through the School C I walked up to the lady monitoring the test and asked to see it; she said teachers weren’t allowed to see it until all students were done with the test. But, she said not to worry because it was fairly easy. As the test was ending I wandered back over to the hall and the lady handed me my copy and said that the students had finished an hour ago, but the testing required them to sit the full 3 hours allocated for the test. When they were excused they crowded around me saying it was easy. They started asking me what the answers to some of the questions were. The lady monitoring laughed as she was leaving and said it was obvious that I liked my students. Since the test was on the compound a few of the other teachers were hanging around as well. Some of the students were sad and told me they couldn’t wait until next year. Then the students all piled into the back of the truck that was to take them home and all said in unison bye to me. One of the faifeau standing there said, “What? You all say bye Julya, but none of you say bye Paseto.” The students thought that was funny and laughed as they continued to wave bye to me. I realized as I was watching them go, that I do really care about them. I will miss this class next year. They will be my seniors with me.

Now, I have been told over the years that I have a gift working with highschoolers; I seem to be able to make a connection with them. I realize that I have done a lot of work with them, YL, coaching, hiking trips… After a lot of thought this last year to what exactly I do want to do with my life when I finish the PC, I have started to realize that I want to continue to work for a cause and become a HS teacher. I would love to work with HS age students when I get back. It just took moving to the other side of the Pacific Ocean for 2 years to realize this fact. Maybe when I move back I can work at a HS with Samoan students. There are a lot of Samoans living in and around the Seattle area. Something I will think about during my last year here.

I went on a camping trip this last weekend with Marques and Sara and a few other people (Samoans and palagis) from their church. It was a blast. We went to Aganoa Black Sands beach. Sara and I shared a tent that was obviously made as a toy and to not actually be used by adults. There was no way one person could lay down in it let alone 2 people. It was held to the theme of Survivor so we were split into 4 teams and had competitions, but it was pretty laid back. We ate better than any camping trip I have ever been on let alone any Survivor season. We hung hammocks around the camp fire. Sara and I pitched the tent on the beach and almost got washed away by the tide one night. The first night we didn’t sleep very well and woke up to a clawing like sound on the tent. After a period of slight terror and graphic images running through our heads, we realized that it was crabs running over and around our sent. The beach is well known for its surfing since there is no reef (which means fun waves and swimming) and it is also well known for its mosquitoes. Not the best thing since dengue fever is back in the area, but thankfully no one has had it from that camping trip yet. Like with all camping trips they are a blast when you look back on them, but I was ready to get the sand out of my hair and off of my body. It was fun and I can’t wait to go again. It made me miss all the backpacking trips I love back home and the camping trip dad, Bryan and I used to take every summer or so to Cape Alava.

This weekend is the volunteer thanksgiving. Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, obviously it isn’t celebrated in Samoa, but the volunteer community and a few others get together before the actual day, make a TON of Thanksgiving-esque food and have a feast. Because I miss all of that great food from home, I am in fact looking forward to the pumpkin pie. (Mom and dad and Cousin Tom, I bet you never thought you would hear me say those words. – Cousin Tom I am still waiting for you to mail me a piece of your chocolate covered wild turkey saturated pecan pie). During the actual day, I have school.

There have been a few other things that have happened at the school, but I want to wait until everything works itself out before I write about them on my blog. So, until then…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Trainee Visit

For the Trainee Visit, Laura came out to visit. Bob had Wesley stay with him. We did the usual things like go to the waterfall near our house (though the water was super strong because it was pouring that day) and taking them to the beautiful beach near our house.

On Thursday a couple of other volunteers around the island met up at La La's house with their trainees and we cooked a massive meal. Then a few of them headed over to Bob and my house to stay since La La's house is smaller and she had a trainee.

I think the highlight of the visit for me is that I love Laura. She is an awesome girl. I cannot wait for her to swear in and to hang out. She will be living far away from me (on the other side of the other island), but she has promised to visit and I will make it out her way too. I also loved the work day. One of the days at school was a work day. I told Laura we could do what we wanted to that day, but she wanted to weed with the students. So we got down and dirty with my Year 12 students and they LOVED it!

Here are some pictures:

Laura at the beach near my house.

Wesley and Dave (both from the new group) chowing down on some great food we cooked for them.

Laura with a few of my Year 12 class.

The Year 12 class showing Laura how to eat a sugar cane.

Laura and I weeding next to my house with my Year 12 class. It was work day at school and Laura wanted to join. They were excited.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Halloween Pictures

I don't mean to update everyone on my life this last month using pictures, but right now, with the limited email access I have and just how tired I seem to be in general this month, that is what you are getting, like it or not.

Selima, Tim and Sarah at the party. Tim was a Prefontaine wannabe and Sarah was a school boy.

Jame went as a belly dancer. Very beautiful one at that. She's done some in the states too.

Me and my brother Bob. I went as a Greccian Goddess. Bob went as a "Vampire Princess Robot from the future."

Group 77 Fiafia

Me and La La... oh how I will miss you La La!

Group 73, heading out soon. Selima was the taupou. Left to right: Julia, Skye, Cecilia, Selima, La La, Kevin and Amos in front. I will miss you all!

John helping on of the trainees (Molly) stay awake for the fiafia.

Dylan and Laura from the new group. Great peeps.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pictures - Late October

Dog. Bob and my dog. His name is Dog

A Tee-shirt I made with La La on my birthday. Savaii Girl.

Bob, Sara, Me, Diane, and Candice at our year party.

Some of my students: Togipau (Yr 12), Valasi (Yr 11), Solema (Tech 1) and me.

After a Wednesday night church service. Me with 2 students: Togipau and Ivapene. Both Year 12.