Friday, May 13, 2011

Sports Day

In a previous post I wrote that this week is the last week of school for Term 1.  On Thursday we had Sports Day. From talking to other volunteers their schools are doing other type of events. Such as Culture Day, English Day, and Book Day. Most schools do all of the events throughout the year it just depends on the principal and teachers what day they want to do first. As for my school we decided on Sports Day. I arrived at school Thursday morning to find the students their bright and early and ready to go.  There were two teams, the red team and the white team. Each with players from grades 1-8.  There were many events. There was: the flag race, coconut gathering, eating contest, ball throw, ball roll, and tug of war.  The day was a huge success. Both teachers and students had a lot of fun. Some of the parents and older sibilings came to help out and watch all the races. It was a pretty good day.
The Red Team

The White Team

The Flag Race

Coconut Gathering Competition

Food Eating Contest

Ball Rolling Contest

Barefoot and playing

Tug A War Contest

Mother's Day in Samoa

Mother’s Day, a highly celebrated holiday here in Samoa. So much that everyone gets the following Monday off from school. For me, the forecast for this day started a week before. It all started when I was at the monthly meeting of Mother’s in the church congregation. No I am not a mother but this is just one of the many odd things I do to integrate myself into the community. Anyways, I was sitting in the meeting with all the elderly women of the church. They all talk while I pretend like I’m listening and understand what is going on. Finally the faletua, (Pastor’s wife), also the president of the committee looked over at me and told me that the group was going to be performing a dance during church next Sunday for Mother’s Day. She said that I too would perform the dance. Well you don’t argue with the faletua because then you would for sure be displeasing god, so I put on a smile and nodded my head complying with her. We were to have dance practice a few times that week prior to church on Sunday. I spent the next few days worrying myself about this dance. I knew that during that dance I would be the one everyone was staring at, even though there were going to be 12 other women up there. I called my host mother the night before the first dance practice to ask her what time I needed to be there. She said that I didn’t need to go because I was not  a mother. “Obviously I’m not a mother,” I thought to myself. I sighed with relief and was jumping up and down on the inside, but managed to keep cool while still on the phone with my host mom. Before we hung up she said that she wanted me to come over for measurements because she was making me a puletasi for Mother’s Day. Pulatasi’s are the standard wardrobe for women to wear. You wear them to church, work, any kind of professional/respectful place.  The next day I went over there to give her my measurements. She was making me an all white puletasi. White puletasi’s are always worn to church. No matter the congregation. Methodists, Catholics, EFKS, they all wear white. The women also wear these big white hats as well. They remind me of the hats women used to wear (or maybe still do) to the derby.  During the week I decided to get my host mother a gift for mother’s day. I went into Apia on Friday, and I was shocked at what I saw.  The main strip of Apia was packed with tents where people were selling all sorts of things. Kind of like a flea market. All the tents had everything from pulatasi’s to jewelry to plants.  I was relieved because I knew these new tents were going to make shopping for a gift a lot easier than I had expected. I ended up getting a pair of yellow flower earrings and a matching ……. Saturday night I got a call from my host mother saying that I needed to come over before church so I could try on my puletasi to see if it fit. Why I was trying it on a half hour before church was besides me. Its not like any major adjustments would have been able to be made if they needed to be. Nevertheless I did what I was told.  Luckily the new church appropriate, all white puletasi turned out great, and no adjustments were made. The Mother’s Day church service ran an extra hour and a half later than normal. The women’s committee read passages from the bible instead of only the pastor reading.  At the end of the service all the women from the committee went up to the front of the church. They sang a song, but no dance. I was very confused, and when I asked later why they didn’t do the dance. My host mom said that they never ended up having practices. I can’t say that I was very surprised.  Because one of the many things I’ve learned is that here, things usually do not go according to plan. All in all, a one day holiday turned into a nice three day weekend, and one eventful week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Month of May

The month of May has always been a busy month for me. This year is no exception. All the events are still happening, but this year I’m just not there for them.  In my month of May I have Mother’s Day, my dad’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, college graduation of friends, and the beginning of summer fun. I’ve always been the person to make a big deal out of special events. I can’t help it, it’s just something that I love. So the fact that my dad is turning 60 and my sister is turning 20 , the fact that 2 of my very close friends are graduating college hurts me that I can’t be there. Not only does it hurt, but it also makes me feel extremely guilty.  I’m sure some people think that’s crazy, but I don’t. these are my people, and you’re supposed to be there for your people. So because I can’t be there, and sending any type of gift is out of the question (considering sending a package to the States costs an arm and a leg) I can only resort to one thing. Giving them a shout out here. So here it goes…
To Mom: Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you relaxed and enjoyed the day. I love you so much, and miss you terribly.

To Dad: Happy Birthday! I truly wish I could be there to celebrate your birthday with you. I know you don’t think it’s a big deal, but to me it is. You do so much for the family and you deserve a day to celebrate only you. I love you, and think about you every day.

To Kristin: Happy 20th Brithday! You are no longer a teenager. I remember when you were all excited to become a teenager. Have a great birthday, and don’t get in too much trouble! J

To Xiomara: Congratulations on Graduating!  You and I have been friends since the 5th grade and now we are both out in the real world….god help us.  However I know  you are going to do fantastic things with your life.

To Dave: Congratulations on your graduation! I’m sorry I wasn’t there to celebrate with you. But you finally made it and I am so very proud of you.  You have really come a long way.      


Let It Be

It’s the last week of Term 1. In other words nothing is really going on. Both students and teachers are checked out. Ready and counting down the days for break.  Students sit around day dreaming and playing while teachers are coming in late and dismissing early. Not really an uncommon practice here, however I must say it can be frustrating.   Granted I too am thinking about this marvelous three week break I have, but my trained teacher ways are refusing for me to check out completely.  All my training has taught me to prevent everything that is typical for Samoan schools. Don’t leave students unattended, only give assignments that have a purpose, make sure their engaged. These are things that have been drilled in my head from day one. However here it’s so not the case. For my class in particular my students are done with their tests, and I have no new material to teach them until after break.  I was going to give them their end of Term 1 exam¸ but my principal informed me that I had to wait until after break to give my test for some reasons regarding district policy.  So I’ve been stuck, not knowing what to teach, and not wanting to teach anything of great value because I know they would just forget it over the next month of break. I looked around at the other teachers who were not worrying about what to do with their students or about what was going on in their classrooms and I couldn’t help but think how much easier that would be.  Truthfully it’s amazing to me how easily one can settle and take on other people’s habits around you. For example, when all the teachers are sitting around talking while their classes are left unattended, leaving early and or giving busy work. I am not proud of this, but I have been guilty on all charges. Certainly not as often as the other teachers, but nevertheless I’ve done it. After days and days of getting closer to break I’ve been watching the productivity level hit an all time low. I decided I would not be a part of that anymore. I decided I was not going to let the contagious feeling of being unmotivated get me. That’s why I chose to make this last week, music week. First song I decided to teach my kids… Let It Be, by The Beatles. I felt this song suited my new attitude perfectly. The kids loved the song and they really got into it. Teaching songs to my students really helps with their pronunciation as well as becoming comfortable speaking English. So even though both students and teachers are checking themselves out, I’m going to do what I need to do and remember one thing… Let. It. Be.