Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When In Samoa, Do As The Samoans Do

I had fleas. Yea, fleas like dogs and cats get. I’m sure every one of you reading  this is thinking two things: “Oh my god that is so gross”and“I didn’t know people could get fleas!” Yes, it is absolutely gross and apparently people can. Well, actually what had happened was the fleas were living in my foam mattress. They mostly come out at night and bite you all down your sides and under your arms.  This isn’t uncommon.  I know of a couple other PCVS who had the same problem. The only problem was how to get rid of them! I went to the Peace Corps nurse asking for tips on how to solve the issue. She said to put my mattress out in my yard and let it sit in the sun for a couple hours.  Even though she has dealt with many other PCVS who have had the same issue, and I’m sure knew what she was talking about, I didn’t really believe her. It is a regular practice for Samoans to lay things out in the sun. Dish towels, pillows, and mats (the mats are what Samoans sleep on) I’ve been told that doing this does kill whatever germs or bugs there are, but again I never believed it.  Nevertheless I was getting really desperate. The bites on my body were really getting to me and I could feel the fleas jumping all over me at night. I would wear long pants and  a long sleeve shirt to bed (even though I live in the tropics and its super hot at night).  I did it just to try and prevent the biting. It didn’t work. So I took my nurses advice and put my mattress out in the yard for about 4 hours. That was yesterday, and I am happy to report that after a night of sleeping in my new sunned mattress I have no new bites. J

(I have to say that is something to definitely be happy about. )

Name Change In Blog

So I’ve changed the title of my blog from Lindsey for Peace to Travels Towards Happiness. Let me explain. After a very VERY long first year in the Peace Corps, a wonderful trip home for the holidays, and the ambition to knock my second year out of the park, I have decided that the only way to get my blog going again is to switch it up a bit. I stopped writing posts a very long time ago. At first, it was because I was going through a very difficult time in my service (“the bottom of the rollercoaster” what people in the Peace Corps like to call it) and I didn’t think that anyone wanted to listen to me bitch and moan and complain.  So I decided to wait to write until I was a little higher on the rollercoaster. However, by the time that happened I had changed and didn’t really want to write about the things I had been writing about before. Talking about rats, Samoan food, or whatever, just didn’t seem pertinent anymore. I had been here long enough to where I was now calling Samoa “home” so talking about the oohs and aahhs just didn’t do it for me anymore.
                So when I got back to Samoa after my vacation I thought about what I did want to write about. And I decided that what I want to write about is happiness. I spent so much of my last year in emotions that were anything but happiness. Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am not the most positive person in the world. But it’s kind of funny because I think last year, a year of anything but happiness, taught be how crucial happiness really is.
                I should preface this whole thing by saying I have no intention of writing a “feely do good” kind of blog either. I just plan on writing about things in my life that are or maybe will one day lead to my grand life goal of true happiness. Because really, isn’t that what everyone wants? So as I am abroad now and have intentions of continuing to teach abroad; as I learn, experience, fall into, and grow throughout the days please stay tuned in my travels towards happiness. J
“Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, the very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is toward happiness.” –The Dali Lama

Here We Go Again!

Year 2. They say it’s a lot easier and goes by a lot faster than year 1. Since my year 2 is just starting, I’ll have to take their word for it. Not that I don’t believe them because I do. I was fortunate enough to be able to go home for Christmas this year. It was amazing to be home and kind of re-live my old life. Take hot showers, sleep in my old bed, hang out at my regular spots, etc. But as my trip ended, and I was getting ready to go home I thought back to how I felt the last time I was leaving for Samoa. The last time was the first time  I was going there and the word ‘nervous’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I remember having a range of emotions at any given moment that could, and most likely were, all over the emotional scale. But this time, this time I wasn’t nervous and wasn’t on an emotional rollercoaster ride. I knew what I was coming back to. I knew what to expect, and what people were going to be in my Samoan life.  That’s why I believe year 2 will be better than year 1. Last year I had to learn the language, and the fa’asamoa (Samoan way).  I walked on egg shells every day and with everyone. But now I know the language and I know the fa’asamoa. I’m more confident with day to day interactions and experiences as well as more confident in general. I know how to say no to people in a polite and respectful manner, and I know how to get my point across without being rude or stepping on any toes.
There are a lot of things that I have learned from my first year in the Peace Corps, mistakes that I have made, and expectations that just plain weren’t practical.   One of the biggest mistakes I made last year was setting expectations for something that I knew little to nothing about. Last year I had expectations of doing several projects in a certain amount of time (usually a short amount of time). It took a serious crash into a brick wall to realize that this was not the way to go about it all. For this year, my plan is to make no plans, and have no expectations. With this, I won’t have all the pressure and no brick walls to run into. 
I am excited for my year 2 of teaching. I will have all the same kids. I know their abilities and I know them as individuals. I am excited to bond with them more, and I’m excited to revise my lessons in a way that I know will work best for each of my kids.  I know I said before that I’m not making and plans or having any expectations for year 2, but I do have a goal for this year… my goal is to just accept things for what they are and how they come. Whether it’s bad or good I’m just going to accept it.