Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sometimes football games get called for brawling...

I <3 Leone. My village.

Sorry for the blogging delay…those of you who know that I have kept a journal for the last 18 years also know that I write in that journal approximately four times a year. So I don’t have the best track record with journaling of any kind.

And then once I don’t blog for a little while, it becomes kind of a chore because I have so much to catch up on…I guess I should just write a little every day and then it wouldn’t be a problem.

Anyway. I left off with the Explosion in a Cafeteria (anyone get the literary reference?) That Thursday, September 29, was Tsunami Remembrance Day in the Samoas, in memory of the lives lost in the 2009 tsunami that hit the Samoan Islands. We had an assembly that day in school, and it was sad, and then we got an early dismissal. My kids’ stories remind me a lot of the survivor stories I heard after the Alabama tornadoes last April. Only it was a wall of water instead of a wall of wind.

Last weekend I went with Amanda to Tisa’s Barefoot Bar. It’s a pretty cool beach bar over on the East Side on the island (WEST SIDE 4 LIFE!), and we saw a shark, which was super cool. Although it did put a damper on our swimming plans, for obvious reasons. I like Tisa’s, but it’s a bit touristy for my taste, and the drinks are super expensive. So I doubt I will be going there on a regular basis. But it was fun for the day. Here is Tisa's:

Monday and Thursday of the past week, our field director came in and observed two of our classes, and then gave us feedback. My classes were fine, but I did feel like most of my feedback was negative, which kind of sucks. I think it’s really hard for our field director to accurately judge our teaching and our kids by watching two hours of teaching. I know my kids really well by now, and I know what works for them and what doesn’t, and so it kind of sucks to be judged on two random classes. That’s not to say that I don’t have room for improvement, because I totally do. I definitely have things I need to work on. I guess the reason I have such a bad taste in my mouth about the observations is that I know how difficult my classes were in the beginning, and I know how far my kids and I have come in the last two months. So while I see marked improvement, an outside observer wouldn’t know the starting point was much worse than now.

Anyway. The good news is, I really feel comfortable with my students now, and I feel like I’m coming into my own as a teacher.

Some of my classes put on skits last week, and they were really hilarious. They were about how you would survive if you landed on Mars, and they were predictably riddled with guest appearances from Aliens and Martian royalty. But they did mention finding the water at the polar ice caps and bringing oxygen with them since the atmosphere on Mars is pretty rough, so I was happy. I’ve included some pics of the skits.

Friday was the football game, Leone versus the Samaona Sharks. The Sharks beat us at the beginning of the year, so we had something to prove…apparently so much to prove that the JV game erupted into a massive 100 person brawl and was called during the third quarter. They cancelled the Varsity game, too, and said both teams would get a loss. Which was really not fair, since neither Varsity squad was even near the field when the brawl broke out. (Plus, all my boys are Varsity, and I wanted to see them play!)

After the “game”, my (Samoan) friend Danielle picked up Amanda and Julie from Pava’ai’i and I rode with the Samoana WorldTeachers , and we all met at the market downtown, which is totally sweet on the first Friday of the month. It was really crowded, and I saw a couple of my students (of course, I can’t go anywhere without seeing a couple of them. Lol.) We had some delicious food and then Danielle, Lisa, Lisa’s BF Rufus, and I went to the bar to sing some karaoke. It was awesome. Samoans a) take their karaoke very seriously, b) pretty much all have amazing voices and c) love them some tragic love songs. Add those three components together and you have a pretty excellent time. A pretty excellent time involving a lot of Celine Dion, song by females and males alike.

Saturday was kind of a bummer. My roommates tend to do stuff together, without me, and they went off to Western Samoa for the weekend, so I got kind of lonely on Saturday. Mostly because I had nothing to do. Then I find out, after the fact, that they rescheduled the Varsity Leone/Samoana game for Saturday afternoon. And we beat the pants (fins?) off the Samoama Sharks. Woo! But I was seriously bummed no one told me the game was rescheduled, because I would have totally gone and supported my boys. And my football habit.

Sunday was completely amazing. It was White Sunday, which is Children’s Day in Samoa, and is a really big deal. The children basically take over the church service, and it is awesome. I especially enjoyed the little boy (about three) who had enough of being onstage and just wandered down the aisle in his spiffy white suit, wearing only one shoe. And I enjoyed the roughly 8 year old that got completely into the dance, and was showing a lot of hip action. Very sassy.

After the service, Drew (my aforementioned field director, who I actually do quite like despite earlier complaints about observations), and I went to have afternoon meal, or to’onai, at a lady named Tui’s house in Leone. She works for the Department of Education, and also goes to my church. The meal was delicious Samoan food (lots of coconut stuff and lots of meat), and the company was great. Afterward, Tui took us on a drive up the west coast of the island, which was awesome because I had never been past Leone. And the West Side is MY side, so I felt that is was necessary to see it all. Plus, a lot of my kids live up the west side, and I wanted to see their villages.

Well. Let me just say, the East Side might be beautiful, but it ain’t got nothin’ on the West Side. It’s SO pretty. I can’t believe I let three months pass before ventured past Leone. One of the problems is that there bus service past Leone is a little shady, but I’m not going to let that deter me anymore. We went up past the village of Amanave, home of many of my students, who for some reason refer to it as Unkabunka. Look, I have stopped trying to explain the minds of my students. I just go with it. We drove the whole way up to the village of Poloa, which is almost the end of the road, literally and figuratively. The road past Amanave gets super scary and sea-cliff hugging. It’s really not so much a road as a death defying adventure ride.

The West Side was so beautiful, but also really sad, because it was the most devastated by the tsunami in 2009, and many people still don’t have homes. They live in the tents FEMA provided for them. We went the whole way to Poloa Elementary, which I’ve included a picture of here. It was completely destroyed by the tsunami. Luckily, the teachers got the students safely up the hill in the nick of time.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were learning about human impact on the ocean, I asked my juniors and seniors to write an essay about why it can be bad if too many people live near the ocean. I wanted them to give me answers that talked about pollution and depletion of marine resources. Instead, I got answers like this:

“People living by the coast is bad because the tsunami will come and everyone will be running and you will try to help them but you can’t.”

It wasn’t until this Sunday and my trip up the west coast that I truly understood that answer.

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