Monday, August 8, 2011
Living Life in Lovely Leone
Well, we finally moved out of the Nu'uuli Voctech and into our placements. Abby, Quinn and I have been living in the little village of Leone for the last week. Leone is a really cool little village, and seriously, the people here are the best. Everyone knows who we are, and just walking down the street, people stop their cars and talk to us. Leone is on the west side of the island of Tutuila, and boasts such landmarks as the oldest church in American Samoa, and a rather scary monument either to John Williams or Jesus, I haven't actually read the inscription. (John Williams was the missionary that did a lot of work here. Not to be confused with the composer or my road trip friend from Alabama.)Have you ever noticed that a lot of people look like Jesus? Or at least the European vision of Jesus. Anyway. Leone was hit really hard by the tsunami that struck in September 2009, and so a lot of the main village area is still kind of messed up. I guess a lot of the textbooks from my school were lost in the tsunami, which is one reason I don't have enough for every student. On the plus side, American Samoa just installed all these fancy tsunami sirens, and one is right behind our school, so we'll hopefully be more aware of a threat than they were two years ago. I guess the earthquake hit in off the neighboring island of Tonga, and American Samoans had about five minutes to evacuate, which is of course not enough time.
Anyway. On to happier matters. Since the outer islands people (those of us going to the islands of Ofu, Olosega and Ta'u) couldn't go to their islands yet, they all had to stay with us Tutuila folk. Here in Leone, we housed Jessica, who's on Ofu, and Wes and Cat, who are going to Ta'u. We had a blast with them this week. Jessica plays a lovely ukulele, and I freakin' love Wes and Cat. I miss them like whoa. On Wednesday, we had a BBQ at our place, and all the people living in Pava'i'ai came over. It was a lot of fun, but I was seriously sick. For a couple of days this week, I was running a fever of 102 or more. It was awful. On Thursday morning, Cat left for Ta'u, and then on Friday night, Jessica left on the boat for Ofu. And finally, after some delay, Wes left for Ta'u on Sunday. So all our guests have left us now, and Quinn, Abby and I are settling into our lives for the next year.
On the school front, last week was Orientation, and Monday we all went to Tafuna High School (booooo!) for the General Assembly. It was kind of a spectacle, with all this singing and the Governor of American Samoa there, and the whole thing being in Samoan so none of us could understand it. At one point they were praying (AmSam is very religious, which as a Christian, I find it nice that no one makes fun of me for my beliefs like they do in the States), and I didn't even realize it until I heard the words "Jesus" and "the Pharisees." Lol.
Tuesday and Wednesday we went to our schools, and we got our first taste of Leone High School. Oh, man, that place is a trip. Apparently, it's the party school (for the faculty!), and I am greatly looking foward to getting to know my coworkers. They seem like an insanely awesome crew.
Saturday I had to go the Post Office in Pago, and while I was there, Lisa called me to come to Tisa's Barefoot Bar with her and the Samoana group. So they came and got me and we had a blast just hanging on the beach on the east side of the island, where I don't get to spend much time. It was some birthday party or something, and the Samoans were just so welcoming when we crashed their party. They were all, "Come eat some food!" and "Come do Zumba on the beach with us!" Lol. It was great. And it as great to see the Samoana peeps, as they live far away and I don't see them much. And I got to say goodbye to Mitch before he went off to the outer islands for the year.
Today was the first day of school, and it was pretty good. I had this vision of huge, out of control Samoan boys challenging my authority, and it really wasn't so bad. Most of the kids were really nice and sweet. There were, of course, a couple of rowdies, but I can handle them. Of course, half the school doesn't actually show up until the second or third week of school, so I may yet get the punks. Attendence here is really kind of...well, it sucks. Both teachers and students don't come to school whenever they don't feel like it. This doubly sucks for the WorldTeachers, because we signed a contract saying we wouldn't miss school, and we often have to pick up the slack for the teachers that do miss. AmSam doesn't have substitutes, so other teachers have to take care of the kids with the absent teacher. Especially at the beginning of school, there seems to be a "They'll get here when they get here" sort of mentality. It's taking some getting used to.
Anyway. I'll write more as the week progresses, but for now, I think I've written enough. I've including some photos of my house (with a party going on), and of my school.