Monday, November 26, 2007

Winding Down

As most of you know, I have about a week left in Samoa. I want to try and describe what it is like to leave the developing country you have called home for 2 years... I think the word "twisted up gut" is a good one. In some ways, I am so ready to go and yet, on the other hand I feel like it's not yet time. With my new lab, there are still so many things I know I still could do. But I have a great new counterpart and I need to let it go. It may sustain itself for a few years, it may last only a few months, but there is nothing I can do to change that now. I just have to dwell on my students and what i have passed off to them.

I wish I could be around to see the lab successful and my counterparts fixing computers left and right, but I can't. I have my ticket to Japan and Korea and then I am finally heading back to the states. I can't wait to see my family. But, its hard because there are also people here that I now consider just as close as family and don't want to say good-bye to them (Laupama, Meaalofa, other Peace Corps). I have my routine and life here in Samoa, a job, a set group of friends...when I return back to the states, it will be different, I know what to expect, but everyone back home has changed too, so it will be different too. Adjustment to Samoa was very difficult but re-adjustment to America might be just as if not, even more difficult. There is just so much to think about. Even as I write this my stomach is in knots. I'm sure it will pass as soon as I get on my plane to go, but good-byes are tough as are new starts. I really wanted to write this so that everyone back in the states knows that while I am excited to see you all again, I am anxious. It will be hard to re-adjust and it will take time. Be patient with me...

That being said, I wanted to post a little update on the last few days and my plans for my last week in Samoa. I have been on Savaii now for a week or so and it has been crazy. I haven't gone to bed earlier than midnight everynight. With the lab not being finished, I really wanted to leave it in the best possible shape I could. This means, finishing installing O/S on all the computers, fixing some of the computers that have been lying around broken for the last year, organize everything, make backup copies of our programs, cover the windows with cardboard to try and keep at least a bit of the humidity and heat out of the room, un-glue all remaining computers from the counters, finishing writing a Guide to Easy Troublshooting for my counterparts when I leave... You get the idea. I have also been working on gifts for a few people on the compound, slide shows for the families and CDs of pictures for my year 13 students. I also had my farewell tea for the teachers on Friday. I baked 3 chocolate cakes (from scratch), with chocolate frosting and one with vanilla. The teachers really liked them and Amosa asked me what they were called in America... Um, chocolate cake. :) All of the women wanted the recipe and Amosa wanted it for his wife.

This last week hasn't been all busy though. I also went on a bike ride with Jan out to Gataivai. That stretch is probably my favorite in Samoa and I wanted to stop and see a few places I hadn't gotten around to. We finally visited a waterfall out that way and did a few side trips. I got to take a few pictures of my favorite places and we stopped and visited Jacob, a new volunteer in Gataivai. Then Jan came over and we hung out and chatted awhile before she headed off. Sunday was my last day at church. Nothing special for me, but they did have Prizegiving (graduation) for the Sunday School classes. La'i, the son of one of the families on the compound, won best in his age group. Tuesday is Prizegiving for our school. I will really miss the Year 13 students. I think they will be the hardest to say goodbye to... And then Wednesday we are having my farewell function in the morning, and I head out that afternoon into Apia. I leave the country 1 week from today. It has been so busy. With all the stuff mentioned above and trying to pack up and figure out what to take or leave behind, who to hand all my stuff off to, and what to do with all the gifts the families keep bringing me... it's been busy.

Before I get to the pictures, let me leave you with one funny story from this weekend. As I was cleaning the lab I noticed a few students had stollen mouse balls (nothing drives me more nuts then when they steal mouse balls), some had written on the computers (eg, I love Julya, Faleuli Yr12 2007, or even I love the Song Beautiful Girl)... but one made me laugh harder than anything and I didn't even notice it at first. I was signing into a computer with the Admin password and the letters looked wrong on the keyboard, then I noticed it... A student had popped out all of the keys from the keyboard and then put them back re-arranged in alphabetical order. So, where QWERTY was, he had put ABCDEF... Very ingenious.

And with that, I am still not ready to go, but its coming... :) Here are a few pictures from my last week, enjoy.

On the bike ride I took with Jan. In Papa. A few villages after mine.

On the road to Gataivai just past Papa.

My village. Looking at the bus garage from just past my school.

Lai. He won the best student in the class at the Prizegiving (graduation) for his Sunday school group. The necklaces (ula's) are all candy.

Jacinta's baby... Very cute and smiles all the time.

Lai, waving the Samoan flag.

Togipau and Tofa on Sports Day. There were a few girls who started up a game of rugby. I have always wanted to get a girls rugby team! I am too late. :)

The 3 cakes I baked for my farewell tea for the staff. All chocolate cake, one has vanilla frosting.

The Tech 2 girls who helped me serve the cake.

Jan on our bike ride. (Notice she has her helmet on, she's such a good volunteer)


At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Cousin Tom said...


As I sit here in a flood of tears I must first thank you for allowing us all to live (vicariously) through your adventure.

I have not had this good of a cry since Mom died and really needed it.

I have so many thoughts of "advice" and suggestions that come from my memory of when the time came for me to leave Denmark after, in my case, only 7 months.

However, I will save them for my own memory and say once again how much we all love you and look forward to your return.

I only wish that Lloyd, Grandma Steyh and Audrey could be hear to welcome you home. I know that they are very proud of you.

Please excuse any typographicals as I can no longer see through the waterfall of tears.

It has been a true joy to share in this exeprience with you.


Your Cousin Tom

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Christi said...

First Julya, then Tom makes me teary-eyed. Ah!

Safe travels Julya!

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Aunt Susan said...

Hey Julya,
I agree with Tom -- I've so thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Samoan life. Nevertheless, we're ready to welcome you back. Of course you know that transitions are never easy, but the next adventure of your life is ready to embrace you, too!
We're soooo looking forward to Christmas on Vashon!
Love you . . .

At 12:32 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Hey Cous,

Even though I won't be there to welcome you back to the US, please know that at some point I'll be back (at least to visit)... and I'm gonna give you the biggest hug ever!

Of course I also have to say that I've loved reading about your life... and I share it with people here who have never even met you - but they've heard about you!

lotsa love and hugs!
safe travels!
good luck with the reverse culture shock! ;-)

At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Miranda said...

I second everyone else's thoughts. I have so enjoyed your and Liz's blog. It's like your sitting next me when I ready it. I look forward to your return and you can come over any random night you like. I also understand the need for space and alone time. I love you! Eat lots of sushi for Eric.

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