Well, er. Sorry about the 23 day lapse in posting... its been busy, to say the least. I will try to at least summarize what has been going on, but first, a clarification about my last post. I was upset when I wrote that- generally, if I write something negative, it is because it is fresh in my mind, and I feel the need to unburden myself and share it with others. It also would not be honest of me if I did not include both the positive and negative experiences I am going through. Transitioning to a new life is definitely not always easy or fun. However, so far on this journey, I can honestly say that my experience has been good. I have done things, overcome challenges, tested myself in ways I could never have dreamed of. I have a job I love right now, and people who I like all around me. The experience has been great, and positive, and I am not doubting my being here.
That said, the list of stuff that has happened (this is in the order it pops into my head, not the order it happens):
- Went to a traditional Samoan Catholic mass for a Saint's feast day, complete with traditional Samoan dances, half naked men with copious amounts of tattoos, and happy birthday balloons for said saint.
- Cooked a Rosh Hashanah feast for 14 people. Appetizer: mini pancakes with a topping of spinach, onions and edam. Main course: 3 roast chickens, herbed potatoes, corn with tomatoes and onions, stuffing. Desert: banana carrot cake cupcakes with spiced cream cheese frosting.
- Tried fasting for Yom Kippur- the heat made this not doable, so I ended up drinking water.
- Hiked a 7 mile hike to the top of Mt. Alava: the first 1. 5 miles to the summit were the hardest 2 hours I have ever experienced. The trail included tons and tons of basically vertical ladders. Very proud to have completed it though.
- Saw Salt- the Russian in it was actually fairly accurate.
- Our football team won their first game OF ALL TIME.
- Went to a beautiful place called "Sliding rock." Unfortunately, went on a day when the water was very rough and high. Said water picked me up, threw me around and against some rocks. I now have some awesome scars, and a newly found appreciation for being alive.
- As a result of said win, we had a combination assembly and school dance- I have video to prove it.
- I discovered that as punishments go, wall-sits are the best; far better than sit-ups, push-ups, or jumping jacks. The reason is this- push-ups are ineffective because most students can do a maximum of ten. Plus, they take up a lot of space, and the students find great pleasure in counting as loud as they can. Sit-ups are good, because Samoan students can all do around 50 of them (though slowly and laboriously), but they whine about getting their uniforms dirty, have to have their feet held down, and also count really loudly. Wall sits are the best- they take up little space, as its pretty much vertical, there is no danger of dirt, the kids hate doing them, and since I time them, they can’t count out loud. Plus, thanks to old softball coaches, I can do wall sits for a looooong time, so if a kid whines too much, I sit next to him and continue my lecture while doing a wall sit. This usually shuts them up- after all, I am a girl. Perfect solution all around. Plus, it helps their physical fitness!
- Went to a Mormon Church near my house- all two hours of Sunday School, plus the service. Everyone in the village now knows my name. It started at 8 in the morning; apparently, the first two hours, everyone goes to different classes. From 8 to nine, I went to the women’s class. 9-10 was the class for people over 18 but unmarried. 10-11 was the actual service. It was very interesting- I had to get up and introduce myself in the first two classes (they make all visitors do this), and they gave me a copy of their Sunday school book in English, which was very kind of them. They also gave me an English book on the history and beliefs of the Mormon church; from a scholastic perspective (which is by and large how I am approaching all the church services I attend here) and from a human one, it was an interesting, positive, and enjoyable early Sunday morning.
- Finally convinced my students that I am palagi, and am not at all Samoan. Apparently, my vaguely ethnic features can add one more nationality to their list.
- Watched the first season of Dexter. It is a really creepy and really good show. For those who don’t know what it is, it is basically about a serial killer, who leads a double life, as a forensic specialist and loving boyfriend and brother (to two separate ladies of course) and as a serial killer with a code of conduct (only kill those who deserve it) instilled in him by a cop adoptive father. Not a great description, but it really is a good show.
- Hiked to Larson's Bay and swam, read and relaxed. The hike was beautiful- through straight jungle with some sheer rock faces on either side of the trail at some points. I saw the biggest bat ever too... and collected a ton of gorgeous weird shells which I am now obsessed with.
- Got really sunburned. Apparently, some days the sun is really strong here... even for my skin. It hurts to sit now :-).
- Almost won at Trivial Pursuit. Stupid Mark beat me by ONE QUESTION.
- Gave my first test in Science...
- ... Had to send two students to the office for cheating. However, on the bright side, I think a lot of my students did really well. I am really proud of them, and apparently they are really proud of themselves as well; a bunch of them are in April (my roommate’s) English class, and for their journal prompt on Friday (something that they are proud of this week) a ton of them wrote that they were proud because they studied hard for Ms. Rosa’s test and thought they passed. I have to say, reading some of those entries was so far one of my best teaching moments; I like knowing that my students are caring about my class.
- Made a breakthrough ( I think) with my English class...
- Finally got to video-chat with Jeremiah. He got EOD!
- Started Gear-Up (one hour of tutoring every morning before school)
There is more I am sure, but I can't remember it all now. Later this week, pictures and videos of my students!
I love you and miss you all,