Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sevens Tournament in Hong Kong

Samoa’s Sevens
They did it again! Victory! I may not know much about rugby, but I do know that Samoa is amazing at it. Saturday night the streets went crazy as Samoa celebrated a 3-peat of winning the last 3 tournaments! People were driving around honking their horns, others were crowded in the street close to a restaurant to watch the television. Any place that had a television was packed beyond belief!
It may have been after midnight, but I do not think I have even seen the streets as alive as they were that night.
There is a good reason the Samoa Sevens are on the ten tala bill. They have earned the respect of the world in terms of rugby.
I hope Samoa continues to amaze the world with their skills because these little islands really do have a lot to show off.

Scuba Diving

Things I love about scuba diving:
1. The people at dive shops are always amazing and have great stories to tell.
2. The boat rides are always fun…except when I forget to take motion sickness pills…
3. The coral reef in Samoa is beautiful.
4. How cool the Pacific feels on my skin
5. Even if you do not see anything, you still see something!

Things I dislike about Scuba diving:
1. Feeding the fish.

Passover Eve

No busses-denied!
After a weekend of spending time with my Samoan family, meeting the US Coast Guard, shopping for Passover, and scuba diving, I was ready to head home. I headed on the 4:00 boat (There are only two on Sundays). The cab driver taking us to the market tried to scam us into thinking there was no pase o va’a today, and we fell for it and took his cab to the wharf.
The ferry was nice and relaxing which meant I was able to sleep well. Sitting on the outside deck, there was a wonderful breeze and I loved having my feet flop off the side of the boat.
When we got to Savaii I felt relaxed and rejuvenated and ready for the work week….however people had other plans in store for me..
There were only 3 busses there. Two going to the north shore and one going to the south shore. There was no bus for my district, or the district that is after mine.
We waited..
And waited…
And waited…
Finally I got smart and called the bus driver. There would be no busses running to either place tonight and I should take a cab.
Taking a cab is about 14 times the cost of the bus…and simply cannot be done.
So we tried to bargain rides from others…but none of them were heading our way.
So here I sit, looking at a text message I got from Rachel explaining her day. “In the spirit of Passover, overcoming the lack of busses was a hardship I had to overcome…”
I am enjoying an early start to Passover in similar fashion.
Tomorrow the busses will run. I will get home. I will get to school. Life will go on, and today will just be one of those many days where the busses just did not come.

A Little Piece of Home

A little piece of home
On Friday when I arrived in Apia, I was surprised to see a piece of America sitting in the harbor. The coast guard was in town. I never knew much about the coast guards, except that they look out for the coasts….and I guess Western Samoa is right next door to American Samoa.
It was nice to see a piece of home, and it reminded me of how I was when I first came to this island. They complained about the heat, and that was my first complaint. (Although they are stationed in Hawaii and I did not think that it was a big change for them..but apparently Hawaii is much cooler.)
I think I met all 172 men and woman onboard the ship as we shared our experiences. They asked about the best places to visit on this island, and I asked about all of the places they have travelled. We shared information about each other’s jobs, as many of us did not understand what it entailed to be serving in the Coast Guard or in the Peace Corps.
By the end of the weekend I was impressed with how they embraced the Samoan culture in their whirlwind of a trip. I know a big group of them helped out with Habitat for Humanity to help out in the tsunami infected areas, others embraced the culture with clothing. It was great seeing some of the men wearing the I’E faitoga (Samoan men’s dress skirt). I thought they looked great as they too are doing a part of our job. They are sharing the culture with their friends and family at home.
I really enjoyed meeting these men and woman and wish them the best of luck in their service.

A Little Piece of Home

A little piece of home
On Friday when I arrived in Apia, I was surprised to see a piece of America sitting in the harbor. The coast guard was in town. I never knew much about the coast guards, except that they look out for the coasts….and I guess Western Samoa is right next door to American Samoa.
It was nice to see a piece of home, and it reminded me of how I was when I first came to this island. They complained about the heat, and that was my first complaint. (Although they are stationed in Hawaii and I did not think that it was a big change for them..but apparently Hawaii is much cooler.)
I think I met all 172 men and woman onboard the ship as we shared our experiences. They asked about the best places to visit on this island, and I asked about all of the places they have travelled. We shared information about each other’s jobs, as many of us did not understand what it entailed to be serving in the Coast Guard or in the Peace Corps.
By the end of the weekend I was impressed with how they embraced the Samoan culture in their whirlwind of a trip. I know a big group of them helped out with Habitat for Humanity to help out in the tsunami infected areas, others embraced the culture with clothing. It was great seeing some of the men wearing the I’E faitoga (Samoan men’s dress skirt). I thought they looked great as they too are doing a part of our job. They are sharing the culture with their friends and family at home.
I really enjoyed meeting these men and woman and wish them the best of luck in their service.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some days are good.....and some are really bad...

Weeks are full of good days….and then a bad day shows….At least a box of candy can make it better.
Yesterday was a great day. School was amazing. I felt like me and the other teachers worked real well together. I rearranged my schedule to go over to the kolisi in the afternoon so I can assist with a computer class. At my school they fed us well in the morning and again at lunch. When the kolisi school day was over, they fed us again, and I got oka! I got to ride my bike all over, and there is nothing more exhilarating and refreshing than zooming downhill on an awesome mountain bike in the rain. I still love how in villages all around everyone knows my name. In the afternoon and evening I had a good time relaxing with my family.
Today I should have realized was not going to be good from the start. I took my time getting ready for school, and usually I am the first one out the door on my walk to school. However today, my sister had to knock and see when I would be leaving. (I still was the first one at school, although not by much.)
I started my day by attempting to fix the school computer that decided that it was done with working. While I was working, I was interrupted for lotu. I don’t mind going to the table to join in the prayer, however it frustrated me how I was approached about it. I was accused of not attending when I have not missed a prayer session in weeks (the only time I missed was when I was teaching an early morning class.) There were three of us in the morning prayer. Normally there are 11 teachers including myself.
The lack of teachers should have been my second clue that something would be off for the day, that and the fact that there was no breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and I feel like I am dragging if I do not eat it!
With an empty belly, I went to my year 7 class and had a few kids acting up. I had them sit in time out on the side of the room. It frustrates me that other teachers do not seem to respect my behavior plan for my kids, as another teacher came in to hit a student for being out of line. The kids continued to act up a little (is it a full moon?) so I decided to give them a quiz based upon what we were just doing. I became real frustrated as several students copied off of one another. They do not even pick the brightest student to copy off of which is a mystery to me….
I then headed to my second class when we were going to do interactive writing. On my walk there I passed the teachers’ office where out of the 4 teachers who attended (there was a few meetings and Samoa has such a teacher shortage that there are no substitute teachers), three were in the office. One is always in the office as he is resigning soon and does not go to a classroom, even though he might be needed. The other two were just talking. One of them was the teacher of the class that I was supposed to go to, and asked “E ke alu ai? Vasega fa? There is no teacher there today so you should go there.” I told her no I was going to her classroom since there was also no teacher in that classroom. I was surprised when she showed up to sit in the room for a bit while I was teaching. We worked on interactive writing about professions we might want and I love how different children’s views are here than in America.
I then headed down to the classrooms full of little kids. One teacher was alternating between years 1, 2 and 3. I took one of the classes off her hands and had a good time playing games with the kids. There are some days when a class of 30-40 little kids who speak a language that I am unsure of my abilities in are intimidating, however, today I felt on top of my game.
I was worried that there still wouldn’t be food for lunch, so at interval I went back to the teacher’s room to try to fix the suicidal computer. Thankfully, someone heard my tummy growling and brought food for us to munch on. At lunch they discussed how since there were not enough teachers they would be dismissing all the students shortly after lunch.
When lunchtime was over I headed to my class, which since the teachers decided to eat in their classroom was moved to another room. (Frustrating!) I taught them about acrostic poems and the kids were doing a great job with it, but since the day was not my day, the good times had to end. Other kids who did not have a teacher for the day began wandering into the classroom which completely interrupted the students work as they could no longer get the help they needed as I became a traffic cop. (The other teachers decided not to go back to class and were still enjoying their lunch.) All of a sudden the bell rang, and the kids were to head to an assembly to dismiss them for a day. I was no longer allowed to teach my last classes.
I went back to the box that once resembled a computer and tried my magic on it, however I still do not know any magic potions and was unsuccessful. The kids were being dismissed and I really wanted some Lili time, so I stayed in the office with the box of error messages.
When I thought the coast might be clear I started to head home. I should realize that kids really enjoy walking with me and will always wait for me to leave the building. Still wanting my Lili time, I decided to use skipping to see if I could lose them…however they decided to skip with me. Then they started being cheeky and one boy pulled my hair and ruined my pig tails. I just stopped, gave a nasty look and said “leai fia fia” (not happy). The kids have learned the contrast between happy me and upset me, and I quickly had the boys apologizing.
In the afternoon I learned that I had lice, and I was given the shampoo to get rid of the little creatures, however the water was shut off.
I was beginning to think that it was going to remain a horrible day, when I received mail.
Tammy had come to the rescue. I finally received my Christmas package from (4 months after she sent it) Tammy and I now had a giant box of candy. Real candy is hard to come by, so if you get it, you treasure it. Hopefully this box of candy is my turning point to a brighter day.

Why do people think I am good with computers?

Okay….I did not sign up for being a computer person. I know how to make educational programs and do basic things on the computer (My kids last week really did like the fancy work I did on Excel to show their test results. I do make them look mad pretty.)…but when it comes to fixing them and diagnosing the problem I am as lost as can be. My secret weapon has always been calling my brother or a friend to help out, and it is not that simple. Trust me it is hard to do while being so far away, especially when my support is 7 time zones away.
So naturally, after being my site for 4 months I have had to fix a computer, set up a computer, figure out why parts of a computer don’t work, and I now have our school computer that will not turn on, and I am going to be helping out at the Kolesi for teaching computers.
Now….where is my brother when I need him? Seriously Billy?

Monday, March 22, 2010

It is a learning experience

Things I Have Learned
 No matter how much money I think I spend in a month, I always seem to spend the same amount. It doesn’t seem to affect how often I go to the city or go out for food. It all averages out. I do not understand it.
 Not every teacher will be as enthused with teaching as I am. And having them in the classroom not teaching is still better than having them just hang out in the staff room.
 Never listen to people in America about downloading files you need when you pay by the megabyte for internet. The internet is still slow, and although the file may seem small in American standards, when you are using dial up internet, and paying for every little bit it adds up. Just think of AOL when internet was just getting started.
 When curry gets on your nice white church clothes the stain appears yellow. Then when you wash it, the stain turns red. Only after bleaching it like crazy will you get it back to its original color.
 Anytime you talk to someone they are your pe’u
 Going to the bank is important. Make sure you have enough money at your site for any expense that may arise. Because the last bus to the city leaves while school is still in session, so bank trips can only be made on weekends.
 Anything can be used to make a fan. Cardboard from boxes make great temporary fans.
 Drinking caffeine is a luxury. Enjoy every sip of your coke.
 Although you may not know anything that is going on in the outside world, you will still learn that the outside world does not seem to effect Samoa. Also getting newspapers and magazines that are months old make us realize how out of the loop we really are.

In Lili's brain

Inside the brain of Lili early in the morning
It is 4:04 AM. My alarm just went off. Why did I set my alarm for this early? This is a crazy time to do anything productive. Let me lay down again.
It is 4:08 AM. Okay. I must have a real purpose for needing to be awake. The siva. The one I have been practicing for afterschool each day. They said to meet at 4:30. Is it a Samoan 4:30, or an actual real 4:30….it is too early in the morning to be sure of what time they might mean. I better just go with 4:30 means 4:30. What was my uniform supposed to be? White tasi top and green i’e. Should I bring anything else? Water. You never know when this will start and finish.
It is 4:30 AM. I am ready to head over to the church. Put the phone in flashlight mode so I do not step in any poop. There are 5 ladies already at the church. Good. 4:30 actually meant 4:30. The bus isn’t here yet… at least they are asking me to help get ready so I am feeling productive. Go to the kitchen. Open the freezer. Put the bags and bags full of chicken into the pots. These pots look big enough to cook a person. Note to self stay on everyone’s good side. So that way I don’t become dinner. Now the sausages stay in the box, but carry it to the van. Now the utensils go in a box. Put in the rest of the cooking ingredients. A few bags of potatoes, a few bags of onions, many noodles, many packages of curry, a few big bottles of oil and a big bottle of soy sauce.
It is 5:00 AM. The bus is here. It is the bus that got into the accident a few weeks ago. I hope the driver stays safe. He is driving way too fast. Please let no one else be stupid enough to be awake at this time of the day. Why is there no music on this bus? Some awesome Samoan music to dace to would be real nice right now.
It is 5:30 AM. Into the church the lotu is about to start. I love the people in this church. They are always so nice and try their best to make me feel welcome at any activity. They show this now by everyone asking me to sit with them. I feel like the popular kid at school.
It is 6:30 AM The service is still going on. STAY AWAKE! Try not to nod off like a few of the people are around you. Not working….at least it is short periods of eye closure. Wow, the girl next to me is real good at playing the snake game on her phone.
It is 7:00 AM. I think nearly everyone who is in the front of the iglesia talked. Which means it should end soon….right?
It is 7:30 AM. Finally! It is over! 5:30 is too early for a church service. At least for me. And one that is this long not fun. We are heading outside to the head of the church. Each village that came is finding their own spot to stop at. I see a few people giving their children bread. DANG IT!! That is what I should have brought. My brain is still half asleep and I think food fuel would have been good for it.
It is 7:40 AM. People are carrying bags and bags full of loaves of bread. YIPEEE! They are feeding us! I see someone taking out pounds of butter. Two tins full of crackers. Also one other container….it is…it is… coconut jam! So delicious! Everyone should make coconut jam! One person cuts the bread in half, pours delicious jam throughout the inside, cuts it in half again, and then repeats the process. Wow, she has a lot of work to do. I think counted 27 loaves of bread! The other people are opening the cracker tins and taking a spoonful of butter to create a butter sandwich. People are starting to take out their plates. Was I supposed to bring a plate and a cup. Think back to yesterday….did anyone mention ipu? “Aua le pepoli” the person next to me said when she realized that I did not bring anything to eat off of. She gives me a tin cup and a plate. The youngest of the women (Who are at the age where they probably just finished kolisi) start going around serving food. Everyone gets a half loaf of bread, 3 cracker and butter sandwiches, 2 eggs, and a cupful of Samoan cocoa. Drat! Tin cups are not good for heat! I think I burned my fingers! Never again should I hold the ipu ti while someone pours into my cup. Next time it remains down.
It is 8:00 My half a loaf of bread is devoured and I am starting to be full. Many of the women are taking out bags and solos to put their leftover food in. I should learn that I should bring something to put food inside when I go to a big event as chances are they will give me food, and expect me to take it home. I do have an extra I’e that I can wrap the food in. The person next to me comes to the rescue again and tells me to make sure to give the food to Iosefa, my bro, to eat. The lady sitting across from me said to bring the food to my family and mentions Iosefa again. Man Iosefa is popular with the ladies! It is now time to change for the games. I wonder what games they will play. The only games I ever see are volleyball, basketball, and rugby. But since it is all women…maybe it will be volleyball, and netball. What was the name of the game my family was talking about last night?
It is 8:30. Let the games begin! First up tug o war! Wow I am happy that I was wrong! This is fun! Just pull as hard as possible. Don’t think of the rope burn you are getting. Pull! Pull! And fall when the other team lets go of the rope! Yes! This is a pretty sweet victory. I few more games of tug o war go on and all the teams that were on our side won. Hmmm.. Is there some type of sun glare on the other side? Our village team which had women only over 50 won their tugging game. Time for us to be up again. Crap they are putting us on the other side. I guess I will learn if this side is jinxed. They blew the whistle too quickly and I among a few other people did not grab the rope right away. We are going the wrong way….pull! pull! Pull! We can do it! YES! There they go on the floor again. This time I get to celebrate the victory standing up!
It is 9:15. Time for more games. There is a hole in the ground where I think the volleyball pole is supposed to go. They are putting a stick inside. Someone asked me if I wanted to play and I told them the honest truth. I have no clue what this game is at all. So I enjoy it from the sidelines. Four women on each side, and when the fai fe’au blows the whistle one person runs to try and capture the stick. The other person tries to tag them. Sometimes they look like they are about to start a fight for the stick. It is a pretty intense game to watch. Some of these girls are so fast and others are funny as they try to trick the other team. It is a good spectators sport. They are bringing out bags of apples. And bowls. They say it is an apple eating contest and ask me if I want to partake. I have eaten too much already to chow down any more! I also eat so much slower than most Samoans. I think I’ll watch. They have brought bobbing for apples into a new exciting game. It is more sanitary than the US children’s game at least. (Which me and Jen did enter and win at a concert this summer.) Everyone gets a bowl of water with one apple inside. They have to be the first one to eat the apple with their mouths only, and they are blindfolded. Water was spraying everywhere it was funny! After that was the pie eating, all of the women were cheating in this event and picking up the pie and eating it with their hands. Out of the two rounds of people playing, only one person actually did the game the right way. It was easy to tell who the winner was. I think some of the women were just hungry and that is why they entered the event.
It is 10:30. Time to change for the dances. The real reason for coming to this other village. We all crowd into classrooms inside the church and begin changing out of our sports clothes. I head back out to the gym (It is amazing that this church has both an indoor basketball court and an outside one.) Someone has an extra i’a uniform bottom for me to borrow. Back to the changing rooms.
It is 11:00 The dances are beginning. In between some of the group dances there is music for people to dance to. People keep inviting me to go and dance each time. It is real funny the attention you get when you are the only Palagi. The different villages have awesome sivas and sasa. It was fun to watch. During a few of the song breaks some of the women are pulling me up to do silly dances that I would dance in America. It was a lot of fun. These are the kind of girls I would be friends with if they were in my village!
It is 11:45. All of this anticipation and it is finally time for us to go! Thank goodness! Do I remember the dances…maybe. “Talofa teine, How are you today? Do you remember the good times, when you come and play?” How does the rest of that song go? Too late to worry now. Just do whatever feels natural. A few people gave me a thumbs up sign during the entire performace.
It is 12:15. The dances are over. Time to wait for the bus. Many people are coming over to talk to me. It feels like I am one big tourist attraction sometimes. I guess it could be worse. Again the bus drives super fast. Please be okay, please me okay….
It is 12:30. Time to eat. What a good way to end the day. Chicken curry, barbecue chicken, ulu, noodles, this meal cannot be beat! They pass out birthday cake too since today was the celebration of the birthday of the Woman’s Group for this church. Again they give way too much food, and remind me to bring it to my brothers. Everyone keeps asking to make sure I had a good day. And of course, invite me to their singing practice later, and church tomorrow.
It is 1:00 and I am exhausted. The day has already been 9 hours long and I am ready for a nice nap. I love going to church events like today.


Not Another One
“Did you hear?”
“The Beautiful Savaii crashed.”
The nice bus driver, his bus crashed.”
“The bus was totaled, Liu had to jump to the other side of the bus in order to not get hurt.”
This was the chatter that was heard on Wednesday in my village. The Beautiful Savai’i was my favorite bus to take. I always felt safe on it, and I knew the driver was always looking out for my best interest since he was like a brother to me. Plus as an added bonus, it always played awesome music to brighten your day.
Apparently for the 2 AM bus, there were cows on the road. (It seems like there are always cars on the road at that time. They always seem to break free from the rope around their necks during the night.) There was a car in front of the Beautiful Savaii and it stopped short. I guess the bus was too close to stop, and tried to go to the other side of the road, but there was a car there. The bus ended up crashing. I am not sure into what, but apparently the bus was totaled. The driver’s seat was smashed pretty badly. Thankfully no one was hurt.
This bus crash was scary for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that this was the second bus crash within the past month from my district. The first one, some people lost limbs, and this one the bus was destroyed.
I hope these drivers learn to stay safe and go slow. I would hate to see another accident occur.

Dear Friend, I love you, Do you love me?

Year 8 Pen Pals
Rachel and I decided to encourage our Year 8 students to write by creating cross island pen pals. I don’t know if we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into! Rachel had her class write the first week and she created postcards for them to write on. I did not have extra colored cardboard to create that as well, so I decided to make stationary for the students.
Rachel’s class was funny. It cracks me up how people write in English when their language is so limited. Sometimes they copy each other, other times they repeat what they do know. Phrases such as “Got bless you”, or “I love you my friend” are used quite frequently.
One of Rachel’s students decided that the person he was writing to was name Rache and gave him a last name. It was funny how he formed his letter.
The first day of our writing week, I had my kids plan where we did a web. The second day I showed the kids how to use the web to write their own letter, as I too had a pen pal and wrote my letter to Rachel. I described my looks, my likes and my family in my letter. One of the lines I wrote was “I am short but I am beautiful.” (When people in my village ask me my name I tell them teine ou’lelei-which is beautiful girl.)
On Tuesday the kids then formed their writing and it was funny to see the phrases they copied from me. There were quite a few short but beautiful boys in my class. I used this as a time to teach them that boys are handsome, not beautiful. When they finished their rough draft I gave them their letters and they basked in the glory of their new friends. They were so happy that they were told “I love you new friend” and being asked for their phone numbers.
On Wednesday I read my letter from Rachel to the class and used it to edit my letter to her. When the children all edited their letters I gave them stationary to write their letters on. They were so excited to start their own letters. I quickly had a stack of letters ready to go from my class. Two of the boys in my class that I have spent a lot of time with did not give me a letter and were being a little cheeky about it when I told them they needed to have it the next day. I was really disappointed in them
One of those boys usually waits for me on the road to walk me home, and today was no exception. He even waited for me while I talked to a few people. I think he likes to have the time to practice the little English he knows and make sure I stay safe. I reminded him that I am serious about him writing the letter, and he happily handed it to me on our walk home. He was proud of his work and you could tell. It was great.
On Thursday the other boy surprised me by not just handing me one letter, but two. Apparently in my confusion and wanting of him to write a letter, I handed him two pieces of stationary….so he wrote two letters. I was impressed.
I have 32 kids in my class, 2 I think are MIA in New Zealand and Australia. And I think only 2 others did not write their letters. Not a bad turn out for an assignment that was all in English.
The following day Rachel and I went through the letters giggling about how many children wrote that they love their new friends. I think this project is going to be a complete success!


I can’t seem to understand rugby. I want to learn the rules so badly. In the training village I played with the boys sometimes and learned a little. In my village the people play tackle and they are strong, so they play rough….which makes me fefe (scared)! Last week there weren’t many people playing so I was able to join in, as I was still wearing my dress clothes from school. It was fun having them pass the ball to me, and I think I was doing okay.
However, after playing for awhile, more people showed up, and nevertheless I got kicked out of the game for not being good enough.
Tonight the Sevens tournament cup was on tv and in the finals USA played against Samoa. During the broadcast they mentioned that in the US rugby was getting bigger, although I have never seen this happen, and leaving only 5 months ago, I didn’t think things had changed that much.
This was the first time that the US made it into the finals and they showed a lot of effort. However, they did not prevail. (I just learned that the US won the last Olympics in rugby…and are hoping for a repeat.) Samoa was victorious and did an amazing dance to show their victory. Samoa has a lot of talent in rugby and I love being able to watch it.
So again Samoa shows themselves as being superior in rugby. I love it! Seki’a Samoa!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Many things reside in our houses…termites, ants, cockroaches, cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, cows, little lizards, big black lizards, as well as many other things.
I have learned much about insects by observing them during my down time. Here are some of the observations that I have come up with. (Some with the help from other volunteers…)
1. Some termites only come out during certain hours of the night.
2. Chickens eat cockroaches
3. Cats seem to eat everything you give them…except taro….so do they eat cockroaches too?
4. Dogs eat babies diapers
5. Cows like to pretend they are human
6. The pigs chase the chickens, and the dogs chase the pigs.
7. Believe it or not ants like water. In face there is a colony of them growing on our water cooler.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Dark

Stuck in the dark
Today was a good day. After church I relaxed in my room, caught up on some z’s, read and had a great time malolo-ing. The water has been out since yesterday morning so I did not want to do anything that required physical activity with it being so hot today, to avoid smelling horribly and to be in search of a bucket to shower outside with the water tank.
In the evening, I realized I should emerge from my room so I am can get some school work done. I turned on the water boiler to make some tea and began writing out my story for the school week.
I went back inside to check the hot water boiler and all of a sudden I heard a cry from a surge protector and all the lights went out. Hoping that it is a short power outage I went back to work writing my story until it was too dark that the little light from my phone was of no use to me.
My family came home from spending their time walking down the street and found candles to light up our house, which was nice since it was completely dark. Not using my flashlight in awhile had made the batteries go dead so I was not being helpful in this department. Through the candlelight we made our dinner, but not in the kitchen as we learned there is a gas leak there.
The village is amazing as walking around all you see is a few candles, it is so peaceful and beautiful.
So here I sit in my dark bedroom listening to the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash. There is no water, no power, and a gas leak.
I will have to wake up early to finish my work, although my sister and a friend offered to hold candles over my piece of cardboard so I could finish the story, I told them “aua le pepoli” tomorrow is another day and nothing is that important.
Hopefully tomorrow there will be water, and power; but no matter what I am still happy to be in this situation as I have a loving family both in America and in Samoa that are always looking for my best interest and I love them!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It is a learning experience

Here is a list of things that I am learning to accept…especially now that I have been living here for over 5 months.
1. Ants- Ants are everywhere. You may think that there is actually an anthill in one of your orifices in your body because of the amount of ants you may see crawling on your body. They will crawl on your pillow next to you, or just hang out next to you as you are eating your lunch or infest your computer…I am still not sure if they are eating my computer apart.
2. Giant centipedes do exist and are ugly looking. I guess I have been in denial since I’ve been here…but today I finally saw my first one.
3. Mosquitoes will bite you whether you wear bug spray or not. If you have bug spray on they go for areas not covered by the spray…like your bum.
4. food-If you buy some kind of special food it will be gone by morning…no matter what the size is. It can be a giant Costco sized tub of cheese doodles, or a jar of peanut butter, they are all luxuries.
5. tanning-If you are biking during the afternoon, you will get a ridiculous looking tee shirt tan. That stays…
6. Phone numbers-if you put your phone down there is a 90% chance that someone will pick it up and call themselves to get your phone number. Then delete the record of their call. So my advice is to hold onto your phone.
7. English – If there is ever anything to do with the English language in my village I will be the first called. They will try to get me to do their homework, since they do not understand the words “I will only help”, type different documents for them, write letters as well as many more.
8. Breadfruit- When breadfruit falls off the trees and you step on it, it feels like poop. Too many mornings I have thought that I have stepped in poop. It is too squishy and stays inside my bicycle tires.
9. Money- Being from America I must be loaded and can buy people phone cards, pay extra for things, or just give them money. Also, since I am here from the United States, the US is willing to help out whoever I pick by giving laptops, bicycles and other random items. Saying “no” is going to be something I will have to get used to saying over and over again.
10. Personal effects-If you leave anything out, expect it to be read, moved, eaten, or go missing. Journals will be read, food will be eaten, shoes will be used, phones will be gone through to check who you have been texting, I could go on and on!
11. Personal Space- it does not exist. Things that I used to think of as being strange, such as guys sitting on each other’s laps, holding hands (except when you are dating), it will continue to happen and I am the odd one here if I do not partake. Besides it is always an adventure when there is 4 to a seat on a bus, and other standing on 50 kg bags of flour.
12. Peeling like an orange-After being out in the sun, my arms peel….and they peel where I sweat the most, which happens to be at my elbows, and it looks ridiculous.
13. Saying no-Family is always an excuse on why you cannot be someone’s “uo”. Since it seems like everyone is connected in some way, and I have 2 Samoan families, there is a good chance I am related to each creepy guy that hits on me.
14. H2O-Water is important and you should respect it, as you never know when it will be there and when it won’t. Showering without piped water isn’t impossible, but it is harder, just like doing many other daily activities.
15. Mail-Mailmen have such an important job and you have to love them. They always bring such fun filled things. Mail will take awhile to come, it may get stuck in Apia for awhile, or California, or even get sent to the wrong country first. But it will come. You just need to be patient. Besides a Halloween present, may work for Valentines’ Day.

birthday fun

My birthday
In Samoa, birthdays are usually not a big deal. The only ones who make a big deal about them are those that are palagi. This is probably because everyone is looking out for each other to make sure they do not get homesick. Just like we don't want our fellow palagi friends to go home early, Samoans are the same way.
The normal birthday celebration that I have noticed for a Samoan is acknowledging the birthday, possibly singing “Manuia le aso fanau” and the rest is just a normal day. I have never seen a gift exchange here. So naturally that is what I was expecting for the day.
My little sister is always trying to make sure I am as happy as possible and was trying to find the “perfect birthday gift for me, and did not want to accept that being a part of their family was the perfect gift. She asked if I wanted one of their new kittens, I told her Albert and Sativa would get jealous. She offered a phone card, i told her I didn’t want her to spend any money on me. She settled for drawing me a picture and making mea paper airplane. This was a great gift as the drawings were cute and the paper airplanes reminded me of Jen and her making birthday samurai helmets for people.
At school I headed to my year seven class. The children all jumped up and screamed, “Surprise! Happy birthday” to me. They told me that their gift was to be on their best behavior. They certainly were.
After school that day I decided I wanted to do one of the things I enjoy the most, swimming. After school I headed to the ocean and went for a swim. My sister was going to come with me, but she ended up staying at school late. I didn't mind because I just wanted to go out and swim. On my walk down hill, everyone was asking me where I was going, and I think my village was nervous about me going by myself, as shortly after I was inside the water, a little boy showed up to watch me from the beach.
I brought my goggles and had a good swim, chasing fish and realizing how much I want to learn how to spear fish. It is such an amazing world under the ocean. I think it would be great to learn a new activity in the ocean.
The waves were strong, and getting stronger. I knew that I had to begin to head back to shore to avoid being stuck in the ocean for longer than I wished. I began swimming back, and quickly saw that all my work wasn’t being rewarded as I was staying in place.
During one of our safety and security sessions we learned about safety in water and I remembered that I had to swim diagonally. It still took a long time and a lot of effort, but I finally made it ashore. Me and the little boy played in the sand digging holes and making sand walls to protect the walls (eventually the tide got so high that we lost all of our amazing new creations).
That evening my family got together for their evening prayer and were thankful that they got to spend this special day with me and prayed for the health of my family both in Samoa and America. It was real sweet how much I am included in everything that happens in their family. For a treat my family cooked barbecue chicken and this amazing potato dish. I learned how much I really missed eating potatoes!
My brothers and a few others in my village wanted to have a little get together for my birthday. I was excited for the idea of hanging out with those people, however the rain started, and then it became dark. I could not find my birthday party for the life of me! I wish I had some kind of excuse for not being able to find it, but I texted the people there and still could not find it.
Birthdays in Samoa are different than America, but just as special. I had a great time with the people in my village. Birthdays are a time for the people that you care about to come together and spend time with you. It was nice to start my 27th year in my village because this is the only full year that I will spend in Samoa. It will be full of adventure and learning experiences and I am thrilled about it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Oka Oka La'u Hani

Oka Oka La’u Hani
I just want to dedicate this to my awesome sister Jen and amazing brother Billy. It was great talking to you the other day…and allowing me to sing to you…So whenever you miss me…just attempt to sing this splendid song.
Oka oka la’u hani
La’u hani faasilisili
Out e faatusaina I se apa helapi
Po’o se pisupo sili
Po’o se masikeke mai Fiti
P’o sina sapasui
O ni tamato ma ni pi
Tia tia e tofa
O le a ta tetea
E leai se mamao tele ga’uta
Avonoa sou taimi
Telefoni ane I se itula pe fsi sau leta
Avane I se motoka
Afai lava ua tonu
Ua tonu I lou finagalo
Ta faaipoipo
O ane I se Pikopo
E leagao le taatua
Tele ai le tiapolo
Pe maua sau pepe
O le pepe o le po
And now for the even better translation of the song. Believe me it will make you want to learn this song.
Oh honey, my honey
My foremost honey
I compare you to a can of hellaby
Or the best corned beef
Or a biscuit cake from Fiji
Or some chop suey
With tomatoes and peas
Dear, my dear farewell
We are going to part
But the distance is not great
So when you have time
Call me at some hour
Or write a letter and send it by car
If it is agreeable with your will
We’ll get married
Let’s go to the Bishop
To play around is bad
And there’s a devil
Or else you will have a baby
The baby of the night.
Admit it…you are now hooked and singing this song too. I have been trying to sing it for the past few months…however I can only remember the first two lines and the last one. Which makes everyone laugh when I suddenly skip to “o le pepe of le po”.

Flag Day

Flag Day
Growing up in the States, we enjoyed our Flag Day in the elementary school classrooms with a little assembly, but it never amounted to much. Sure we showed our pride in our country in little ways on that day, but it never came close to comparing to the fourth of July or other American holidays.
Apparently in American Samoa it is the complete opposite! My Samoan tama was hired to help choreograph the celebration there. He will be there for around a month to prepare for the festival.
It is amazing that an American territory put so much into this holiday and show so much American pride. I would have never pictured that. This might have been because I never had any idea how American territories viewed being a part of America. You always hear rumors that the US territories would prefer to be on their own.
But hearing how big this celebration is, makes me think otherwise. Everyone who has went has told me how spectacular of an event it is.
I hope that I can make it someday to see this so I can tell everyone how I have been to a real Flag Day celebration!


Just a taste of chocolate
With such amazing cocoa in Samoa, and very few exports, a few of us decided that we should find a way to assist Samoa in a business venture.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to get high quality delicious Samoan cocoa in a chocolate bar in America?
As soon as we find a way to make this happen, such as an organization to work with and a place to make it, you will be seeing Samoan chocolate on the shelves at your nearest store!


I’ve gotten used to the idea that fish will be a part of my diet and it actually does not taste bad…for the most part. I have learned that I actually prefer it to most meats. The problem comes when all of it comes in cans! There is something off with the taste of fish when it is in the cans and it reminds me of why I have avoided eating this for years!
When we live on the ocean, and the fish market sells fresh fish daily (even on Sundays), why is there a need for canned fish. It traps in the bad smells and ruins the taste!
I think I am going to have to find a fishing pole and get to work on finding delicious food in the ocean so we can avoid the cannned. Or maybe learn the craft of spear fishing.
Either way, by the time my two years is up I will be more ready to be on Survivor than anyone!


My birthday weekend.
I should have known…Rachel is jinxed when it comes to diving. If you want to plan a dive trip, be sure to not include her….Not because Rachel isn’t totally amazing, because she is. It is just that the diving gods must be against her or something. She has been trying to get her diving certification for many years and something has always come up. This year we have had a hurricane scare and a tsunami scare the two times she was supposed to dive.
I thought it was about time for her luck to change so we planned a dive trip for my birthday weekend. However, strong winds prevented the dive trip as the shop was worried about their boat.
That didn’t bug us because we still had our plans for dinner, an awesome grilled cheese night. The night did not fail us as it was just as delicious as we were hoping.
Rachel gave me a watermelon for a gift....which was amazing! We have been trying to figure out for the past few months how we can grow watermelons on trees. We planted the seeds, so hopefully they will sprout soon!
The night was full of food singing, and merriment. It was such a good night.
The next day we hopped on the bus and headed towards Salelologa to continue our merriment. We headed to the Peace Corps office and was completely disappointed because the door was locked and we could not get in.
Ali was with me and we took turns punching the code in the door. We heard the sound of the click, however with it still not unlocking, it got us nervous that someone played a nasty trick on us and locked the office with a key that we do not possess. We also tried the trick of in case someone was inside ensureing them that we would not tell the police of their wrongdoings, if a dead body was inside. Nothing was working.
We really wanted to have our central place where we can place our items from the market and just enjoy the luxury of air conditioning for a little bit. Across the street from our office is the Digicel store and we decided to head there to learn about their new promotions.
They just installed two computers and if you buy a phone card you are able to use them. Since there is talk about them closing our beloved office, at least there is a place where they play fun dancing music, have amazing air conditioning, and lets us use their internet.
The people in the Digicel store are so amazing that if you request a different song, they actually will assist you. Needless to say I will be gladly returning to our new office because it is full of good times!
After our fun in the store/new office we went swimming and had a jolly good time. I was rocking my swim cap to avoid any more ear infections. We were all diving off a dock into the water splashing every which way.
On Sunday, I went to a river and gave swim lessons to a group of children. It was a lot of fun and made me miss being in the water as much as I used to be!
Since my birthday is midweek, I am sure the birthday fun is sure to continue and I am looking forward to it, especially since so far it is one of the best birthday celebrations.

bus accident

Saved by the hair on my little chin chin!
On Friday I was heading for my amazing birthday weekend which was to start with fabulous grilled cheese at Rachel’s house. Being the amazing school system that Samoa has, my classes were cancelled for Friday for tests, singing and sports. I had an awesome lesson planned, but I guess that’s fa’aSamoa!
Since there were no classes for me to teach, and I had already probably doubled the teaching hours I was supposed to do, I decided to go off for an adventure. It was either going to be to see the amazing sports day for the kolisi kids, or send in paperwork to the Peace Corps office that was already overdue from not having internet.
My desire to be responsible won and I headed to Salelologa to use the internet. Since I was not going to be in school I decided that I would be prompt with my visit to the city and head there early. I left my house at 5:45 to ensure that I did not miss the bus at all. Of course with my luck with busses, I had to wait a long time. After about 45 minutes, in which I got to talk to a lot of the girls headed to the games to participate in netball (still not sure what exactly that game is) and volleyball. The busses towards the event were packed with children crammed in there worse than a can of eleni (or I guess most people would say sardines…)
I have been on my share of busses that were four to a seat with people standing, but this was taking it to a new extreme! There were so many people on these busses that it was hard to imagine!
So there I was waiting for the pink bus to come when a teacher from Sagone pulls up to offer me a ride. I gladly accept and off we were on our ride to Salelologa.
Little did I know that that teacher saved me from a car accident.
I don’t know if the bus drivers from the north shore aren’t used to the roads on my side of the island or if they were just tired. But they were riding on the wrong side of the road worse than normal! Our car had to swerve off the road a few times in order to avoid an accident. That should have been my warning that something was about to happen.
I made it to the city and did my computer business before heading on the bus to Rachel’s.
I was beginning to hear rumors of a bus crash. But did not hear all the details until later. (Not that I still know all the deltails.) But the pink bus that I was supposed to be on collided with a bus from the north shore. The busses were driving too close to each other and touched going at a fast speed. (35 miles per hour can be considered fast for some people!)
The major problem with this is that it can get hot on busses, especially crowded ones, so some people lean out the windows. There can be arms, heads and other body parts out of the windows. Sadly at least one person was leaning their arm outside the window, and lost their arm.
In my life I have just missed being at a lot of scary events, and I am happy this is another one that I missed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hate and love

Hate and Love
The longer I am here the less and less the words hate and love make sense to me. It does not seem like there is any middle ground at all.
For example I was told that I was hated for not texting someone. I was also asked if I hated some of my students because they are cheeky (I wonder if that word will stick with me after I head back to America!) Another time my sister said she hated a girl on American Idol because of her song. Every time I have a talk with the people about how hate is such a strong word. You can dislike something, but hate it really rude to say all the time. I doubt I am getting through to anyone yet….but maybe this will be mission over the next two years.
The word love is tossed around so much as well. If you spend any time with someone you love them. It is a little ridiculous.
Living here is like being in a kindergarten classroom with these words being thrown around so much. Maybe it is because English is the second language (or trying to be) and it is difficult to learn new words that mean something similar.
If Samoans can say that they hate things or people so easily and share their love with everything, why can I not use the word love when I talk about papayas?

School Bus

School Busses
Primary schools are usually made up of one village, however for some smaller villages, they often combine to make one school. My school is just the case. I live in the center village so I see the students all the time. The villages that are furthest away from my school are super careful about going to school. More careful than anyone could even imagine in my mind!
Instead of having a school bus, the students that go to that village line up single file and march over to their village together. There are a few parents that help keep the students in line.
It is hysterical to watch the student train pass by. But I love how the parents take the initiative to keep the children safe.

Chile Earthquake

The earthquake in Chile and Tsunami watch
I learned about the earthquake after midnight after the third text our safety and security officer sent finally woke me up. Around two he was making his rounds calling everyone to inform that they should head to higher grounds by seven in the morning. Living uphill, I wasn’t too worried because I really had no need to evacuate. Still I was anxiously nervous to see what would come out of this. I figured it wasn’t worth waking my family to warn them as we would not need to evacuate. I was in a half sleep slumber the rest of the night, not fully awake and not fully asleep. At four someone called my Samoan parent to let them know about it. So they were awake and loud as they were investigating for answers. I don’t think any of us went back to sleep after that. After I finally left my room around 7 in the morning, the television was on and thankfully Saturday mornings are brought to you by BBC so we were informed of some of the news. Barak Obama was on warning people in Hawaii to evacuate the coasts and I am pretty sure he also made his shout out of Guam and American Samoa to do the same.
In the morning I was still planning on going to my different church activities, since it was Saturday. I headed to the Momona church at 8 o’clock for their event. The Momona church is as close as a house can be to the sea and I was looking forward to having a view of if the tsunami happened while I would still be high enough uphill and safe. However, when I got to the church it was completely deserted.
I headed home to get ready for our own church service. It was more uphill than we lived so I know that our safety and security officer would be proud of my decision! On the way to church a noticed a few people evacuating our village. Now this may seem like a smart idea, however they were evacuating towards the sea. I never understand the Samoan way of thinking.
Thankfully the tsunami never hit here. My sister was giving me updates from the American news which is the only reason I knew that the waves hit Hawaii and Pago Pago. Since it didn’t make the news here, I am hoping it was not bad, and everyone was safe.

School calendar

I am starting to settle into my school calendar more and more each day…although that because of teacher shortages it makes everyone’s job harder. One teacher in our school has been out for the past three weeks from being ill, so that means the rest of us have shuffled around to attend his class, which usually means having a class or two unattended. It is very frustrating to see these children just sitting there so I sometimes fill in a class for longer than expected because otherwise there is no teacher. I have been neglecting the younger children in the school. I guess that is okay since I am supposed to focus my time on the upper grades, and I have been enjoying coming up with new English activities to do with my class.


Did you see it? The World Cup of Rugby was just in Las Vegas…I know I never knew much about rugby in the past…and in fact I still do not know much…but I do know the pride Samoa feels for their team. (They also seem to have a lot of respect for the American team…in which I never knew America really had a team…)
I hope you are flying your Samoan flag high in the air since Samoa became the winner of the tournament! If you are wondering what it looks like, it is red white and blue with a star….doesn’t it seem like every flag fits that description?
Go Samoa!

The Dating Show

The dating show
To make up for missing church a few times from being out of town, I am quickly making up for it by going any day that I can. (Well only on the weekends…I do not want to commit to the 5:30 am service.)
At church on Saturday I went to the evening service and they did the one thing I hate about church. They completely call me out and ask me what my beliefs are. They switch to English and look at me directly and say, “What do you think about this Lili?” I never know how I should respond to this. I usually just do a quick agreement because I do not want to start an argument over religion. I did get to practice my reading in samoan in the Tusi Pa’ia.
I have really enjoyed going to church, and I never thought I would say this. It gives me a time to see my community, enjoy beautiful singing, practice my Samoan, and think about my future.
After the three hours of church on Sunday, I went to to’ogan’i at the faife’au’s house. It was real nice because I talked with his wife and helped his daughter with her math homework. (I love the Momona education system here! They are some of the best teachers it seems like!) When we sat down to eat the faife’au brought over a guest. Throughout the entire meal the faife’au was trying his best to entice me into dating that man. (Did I remember why Momona men are the best? They don’t smoke, drink or beat their wives. It is part of their rules. You cannot trust a man who is of a different religion because he might beat you”) Needless to say it did not make me decide to find a husband, or even a uo at this time.
I stayed there for hours chatting about all different things and it was nice and relaxing. I showed the daughter how to plan before writing to make herself more organized, and her mom was so impressed! They gave me Samoan bananas (they look like a banana who took steroids…. And they taste amazingly!) and vee (similar to an apple) to take back to my family before I returned home (to take my cat urine pill).
I never thought I would enjoy the experiences church gives me.

A Trip to the Doctor

A trip to the doctor
I had an appointment for the doctor in Apia for 11:00…which meant that I had to take either the 6 A.M boat, or the 8A.M one. I know that usually a bus comes in my village around 5:30 that will take me for the 8 A.M boat, but sometimes it shows up late and I will miss the boat. My solution was to take the bus for the 6:00 boat.
I heard rumor that the bus will come anywhere from 1:45 and 2:30 in the morning. Luckily I had my sister Sharlene to travel with so we could figure out the bus together. My alarm went off at 1:30, after only about two hours of sleep. We headed to the bus and it came close to 2 o’clock. We traveled on the bus for awhile, with the bus driver showcasing his chain smoking ways, and finally arrived at the wharf around 4:45 in the morning. (Umi malaga! And it was still just the beginning!) The boat was so crowded that there were no seats at all inside, and outside all the seats were wet from the rain. Sharlene and I found a little corner in the ferry to lie down and take a much needed nap. I woke up my own drool dripping down my bag (it made a great pillow housing clothes for the following day). Shortly after I woke up, tons of people were crowding all around me to try and rush down the stairs to be the first ones off the va’a. There were so many of them that I thought that they were going to fall on me. I kept having flashbacks to my lovely Staten Island ferry, and the announcements they make on every trip to stay off the stairs until the va’a has docked. Here the stairs felt more dangerous, but that did not stop anyone from being on them.
We got on the pasi o va’a and for awhile it felt like it was the express bus because it made very few stops. I decided that sitting on a lap for an hour did not sound like fun, so I stood, surprising many of the Samoans around me. I think I was asked about 100 times during the ride to lap sit.
At the market, I said my goodbye to Sharlene as she headed to our other uso’s house, Sharon. I did some errands and headed to the Peace Corps office to get my ride to the doctor’s office for eleven. I was so tired from such a long day of travelling, but I knew I could not go back to sleep yet even though my day felt like it should have been over already!
My ears have been giving me trouble since November. At first I thought it was just swimmer’s ear, but it just didn’t seem to ever get better. It has been weeks since I have been in the water, and I miss it terribly! I really want to go swimming and scuba diving, so I need this problem fixed ASAP!
I was put on new medication again, and the pills have the worst smell in the world. I took them first in the Peace Corps office, and when I opened the package people began looking for an animal because it smelled like cat urine. Seriously. So when I swallowed the pills I began to smell like cat urine. I brushed my teeth, ate food, but nothing could completely get rid of the smell. To make matters worse I began belching cat urine which tasted just as bad as the original pill.
The good thing about taking this kind of pill is that it will keep any unwanted attention away from me. I know I will not get any unwanted boys coming near me as the smell of me now scared them away! I think they are really the abstinence pill because of that. (Not that I am complaining at all! In the contrary I am completely happy!)
The next day I headed back to my island, ready for another long journey. I got on the pasi o va’a before nine, and so I would make the noon boat. The bus was packed and so I did the Samoan thing and allowed someone to sit on my lap. I don’t think it would have been bad if there were not as many bags on the bus. The ground was full on boxes, buckets, suitcases and many other bags so there was no room to move my feet and they fell asleep quickly.
The girl that sat on my lap quickly became my best friend telling me about her life, and invited me to her boyfriend’s house. I decided…why not? What else did I have to do for the day (besides go to church…). Her boyfriend picked us up from the wafu (wharf) and we drove to his village where I met his family. They ranted and raved about how they knew Phil, the volunteer near them, and how good a person he was.
After our visit, they decided to drive me all the way back to my village (which was like an hour’s drive!). It is amazing how friendly and welcoming every single Samoan I meet is. They are so quick to invite you into their family and allow you to become one of them. It feels like everyone I meet here is quickly becoming a part of my extended Samoan family and I love being able to interact with them! (Especially now that I am starting to understand more and more of what they talk about!)

Week 3 of School

Week 3 of Aoga
School has been in session for 3 weeks now and I think I have begun to find my nitch in the building. I am going to visit every class in a week, spending more time with the students in the upper grades.
The year 8 teachers are very dedicated to their work, and come in early to teach their students and stay hours and hours after school is dismissed to continue teaching them. The year 8 test is the most important tests that students take in primary school. Although the exam is in the fall (well the northern hemisphere fall), they are preparing now for it. Since they are such hard workers I decided to join their effort and help teach a reading group in the morning. (I also have a reading group in the afternoon. It is all boys who struggle so much, but they are so impressive with how dedicated they are to learning. We have spend the week with the Jack and Jill poem creating summaries, sequencing, answering questions and practicing pronunciation. I never realized how many skills can come out of that little nursery rhyme!)
I teach the year 7 English class daily and my sister is in the class. It makes it a difficult work space because I know I push her buttons by not calling on her for everything, and not allowing her to break the rules, but I think it is starting to come along as she is realizing that I am not only her sister, but her teacher. The class is also beginning to realize my rules in the class (the biggest one is no hitting) and what time out and being separated from the rest of the class is about.
The year 6 class is very smart and I am flip flopping my time with them and other classes. Twice a week in the morning and twice a week in the afternoon. The teacher there is very accommodating and switches to English learning when I arrive. Today I read stories with dozens of kids. (We focused on the book components…I hope they all now know what an author is, and where to find the author on a book.)
The year 5 class I have only been to a handful of times and will only visit twice a week. Right now the teacher is finishing up her degree at University so I am having a good time helping her with whatever she needs. This afternoon we hung around school making games for her students. We are starting with memory, where they have to match the verb in the present tense with the verb in the past tense. I hope it will be a hit!
I will be going to the year 4 class 3 times a week as they are the youngest students to take the national exam. I think I need to work on my Samoan a little bit more to get the most out of working together.
The other classes (1, 2, and 3) I will visit for only half an hour a week. I think I am going to do a read aloud in some classes, sing songs in others, and introduce tpr (total physical response) activities. These little ones are so cute in their uniforms each day. I am excited to work with them.
There are between 30 and 40 kids in a class and although we often have to share resources, everyone seems to make due. I am happy that I am not teaching science, as it seems impossible to do the different experiments without the given materials. The teachers have the same problem with math. When I was with the new teacher, she was told to teach about angles and to have the kids practicing making and measuring angles. However, the only compass and protractor that the school had was the gigantic one made for the classroom chalkboard. I think we decided together to have the kids take turns coming up to the board to practice.
I set up the school computer and printer this week as well. When the computer turned on for the first time it had its message saying it was copyrighted in 1988. At least parts of the computer have been updated so it is not as bad as I first saw and thought. There is no printer software in the school, and there is no internet to find the software. So as of now the printer cannot be used for the school’s computer. I have been bringing in my laptop to print the different documents from that. (My laptop, like most newer computers is so seki’a that it doesn’t need the cd to install the program.)
Things are going well in school though. The difference between teaching in America and teaching in Samoa makes it challenging. But no matter what, you do not want to give up because when you look at your class of students, and you see how excited they are to learn, it makes you day. (Also today…I was staring out the window during lunch and it’s not every place that you can look out your window at work and see lush forests full of coconut trees. You walk to the front of your door and you see the blueness of the Pacific. It’s still hard to believe that I live in such a beautiful place.)
Seki’a Samoa

What Would Jesus Do

What would Jesus Do
Church plays a major role in society here. I have some days where my family has lotu in the morning and in the evening, as well as there have been many weekends where I have gone to multiple church services throughout the weekend. Previously in school the children have had lotu in the morning through hymns and a short prayer. However this year things have changed, and they have added Christian Education into the curriculum. So after morning prayer, the teachers take their classes to their rooms and do Christian education. I never thought I would see it cross this far into public education but I guess a lot of the unexpected has come up from living abroad.
I have also learned that the teachers need to come in early a few days a week for prayer. If the teachers do not show up, or come late they are fined. I have talked to some of the other volunteers and they were told that they will be expected to lead the prayer session at some point. (Which makes some of us up to three lotu per day.)
Because of the lifestyle here, I have decided to use the “What would Jesus Do” technique for behavior modification. Every time I see a student do something they shouldn’t I will ask my student, “Would would Jesus do if he was in school, would he hit his friend? No Jesus would probably be respectful for his peers”. You can use the WWJD technique for all the different problems in the school, and since it has something to do with religion, there is a better chance of it sinking in with them.


My Village Projects-Water
So the overwhelming request was for me to get piped water to my village. I talked to another volunteer who is also trying to get this task and she told me it is a simple process. All I need to do is go to the Samoan Water Authority (SWA) give them some money and ask for them to do a survey and they will find out if it is possible and tell me the costs of this project. It sounded pretty easy and straightforward. My host dad told me that I should bring in a map with me of the houses that needed water but I was told that they have an idea on what the different villages look like.
When I arrived at the SWA I told the woman at the payments counter why I was there and she told me that I really should be at Bluebird Lumber to buy the pipes and find out about my project. She saw my confusion and got a man from the office to go with me.
While we were walking there he explained that he was raised the Samoan way and that was to help out everyone, especially those who are Palagi. It was nice to know that he would be as helpful as possible to me. I asked him if going to the store was what I needed because I was coming as a request to the entire village.
We began to head back into the office because he realized the store was not what I needed. I sat with him in his office for a while to describe the reason for me being there. It sounded like he understood and I began writing notes for him to pass on to someone else.
I was then passed onto someone else so they could get paperwork started for me. Halfway through the paperwork we realized that I should not be filling that out and paying the money. The survey was for each individual family and then they would be paying $250 more to get the water connected. So unless I was to put up the bill for my village, I was in the wrong place. They told me that I should be directing the families to them to help get the paperwork started.
I was also told that there is a village committee that deals with the water. I should talk with them to figure everything out. I guess I will try to talk with either the Matai or the women’s committee this week and see how they want to go about this and to find out if this committee actually does exist.
It seems like it is extremely interesting to get work done here. What may look like an easy simple project, really will turn into a huge one where you are unsure where to go to next.

Hurricane Rene

Hurricane Rene
We warned….through text messages and by those who have watched the news about this hurricane. I was becoming nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I had a trip to the doctor planned but was unsure if I would make it.
The storm was supposed to start Thursday night, and a little rain and wind came. But by Friday morning when the storm was supposed to be at its worst, the sun was shining as bright as ever. It was safe to at least go to the doctor in the morning and head back as soon as possible.
The doctor is located at the market, and because it is Samoa and they try to make things as difficult as possible the doctor’s phone number was off. When I tried his backup number, again that was disconnected. I did not know what to expect. He could be there, or I could have made the trip for no apparent reason. Luckily, after my search of every shop outside the market, I found his office and after waiting for him to show up for only 45 minutes he showed up.
A few more of us met up and the “hurricane” had started. We were having pretty big winds and a lot of rain. It still did not feel like much compared to the storm we had a few weeks prior. (Where all of us were terrified!)
We had heard that the boats were not running, and judging by how the waves were, I think this was a smart idea. My host dad was in American Samoa, which was in a more direct hit from the storm, and his plane flights were cancelled. Because of all the confusion on the weather, the bus schedule was a little messed up and it took three hours for the bus to show up to go back home.
When I got home I had to laugh because our house was turned upside down to get ready for this cyclone. Furniture was moved, suitcases were packed, candles were ready to be our only source of light, and my family was ready for whatever was necessary. They said it was because of Hurricane Ofa in 1992 that they needed to be prepared, since they lost so much during that storm. Thankfully they now know what to do in case of an emergency.
Don’t worry, the emergency bag is packed and I am ready for whatever is thrown at me.