Today was the first day of school. After the rains I experienced while having meetings in Apia, I was nervous about the waves, so I took Dramamine. Dramamine is supposed to last for 24 hours, but I didn’t think the drowsiness would last for 24 hours.
When my alarm went off this morning, I did not want to get up. Then I remembered why my alarm was going, and went to grab the iron. Even though ironing is probably the worst part of the day for me usually, I began to smile as I picked out my first day of school tasi. I then filled my water bottle, and headed out of the fale.
When I reached the road, I was greeted by people asking the question us PCV (Peace Corps Volunteers) hear most, “Where are you going?” I left early and it was nice because I had time to have conversations with people on the road. Even though I have seen them during the entire vacation, it was different than our normal conversations. I love the walk to school because there is always so many people to interact with.
I was the first one at the school building. I took a glance at the ocean and smiled. This year is going to be a great one. I feel pretty confident in my Samoan, and know a little more of what works and doesn’t work in a Samoan classroom, without using corporal punishment like the other teachers.
Soon the men from my village began to show up to cut the grass. Our school is made up of three villages, and the school yard is divided into three parts. The previous week one village came to cut their section of the grass, and I think tomorrow the last village will come to cut the grass. It is always fun to watch these men cut the grass with their machetes moving faster than the speed of light. When they finished, they did a roll call to make sure one male from each family showed up.
The students began to arrive. It was good to see them, especially since many of them still had new uniforms (still about half of them had shoes). Then the teachers came, and the work began. The students began weeding and sweeping up the grass . They then moved furniture from classroom to classroom. The walls that had fallen down the previous year, were moved around, possibly to use them as chalkboards.
I sat on the steps for awhile watching all of the action, and some of my students joined me. It made me smile because my year 4 class from last year came right up to me speaking English, something they would not do last year. It was cute to see them use the word “amazing” and other adjectives that were new to them as they described their vacations. I had actual real conversations with some year 7s in English, and it was marvelous (another word I heard them use). I also did get a chance to practice my Samoan with some of the younger kids.
At the end of the day, there was an assembly and I was proud of me as I understood everything the teachers said to the students. Then the staff met, and it was refreshing to understand the staff meeting as well. We were down one teacher from the previous year, and the roles were given out to each teacher. Teaching materials were handed out. We received our box of markers for the year, and about 20 pieces of cardboard colored paper.
I walked home with the other teachers, exhausted. Heavy rains had reached my village, and I enjoyed a nice nap.
(Pictures are of my school, my first day of school picture, desks stacked up in one of the classrooms, men from my village cutting the grass, students carrying walls of a classroom)