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…


At 9:20 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Hey Cous,
It's great to hear a longer update and to find you are well... Congrats on the successful completion of a school year! I know you're a great teacher and I think considering a longer career in the field is a fabulous idea!

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Cousin Tom said...

Hey Julya,

I am so sorry I have not sent you the recipe sooner. I have been swamped with rebuilding the front of my (3 story) house and have been VERY busy.

I will try to get it to you this weekend, ASAP.

We all miss you and wish you could be here for Turkey Day.

Also - KUDOS on the great job you are doing.

Take care and God Bless,

Cousin Tom

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Ropati said...

... i travel the other side of the world to learn - i can change rural communities in Samoan through education --

At 11:30 PM, Blogger MookFish said...

robot shoots lasers at owl.. test penguin waits stoicly

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Bob Smith said...

We really enjoy reading about your experiences and great work with the kids. With your personality, experiences with Young Life, and two years teaching young Samoans; you would make a fantastic high school teacher. If that is your desire, we hope and pray that it will come to pass.

Bob and Pam


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