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Friday, March 18, 2011

Birthday

Birthday

This past week I celebrated my birthday.  I did not remind anyone about it, so it was very low key.  I was planning on doing a little celebration with my family, so the previous week I went to the store to order ice cream.  (I actually had to go to several stores to find one that would take the order..) 

The day of my birthday was a normal day at school, then after school I hopped on my bike to run errands.  On the way home, I stopped at the store.  The delivery truck had not come that week, so they had no ice cream, or most goodies.  I still wanted something special.  Something I don’t usually have, so I bought a coke. 

Oh my goodness, the coke was amazing!  It was mostly frozen and tasted like a slushy!  I don’t  think I have ever enjoyed a soda as much as right then!

At home, my brother suggested going to another store to find ice cream, but were unable to find any.  I didn’t mind, it was a typical Samoan birthday.  No one made a big deal, and I enjoyed the day relaxing on my own.  It  was a complete Samoan birthday.

 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Alert

Tsunami Alert

Last night when I woke up to go to the bathroom, I saw BBC was on TV, and surprisingly, my mom was watching it at that late hour.  It was so sad what I saw.

Japan was just rocked by an 8.9 earthquake, and a tsunami followed.  The earthquake was so gigantic, that is had such a disastrous effects.  They were able to have both the earthquake and tsunami on video, so it was shocking what I was able to see.  The waves were so big, that even though I live uphill, it made me nervous. 

They put all of the Pacific on a tsunami warning and said that the tsunami is bigger than some of the Pacific islands. 

I haven’t heard anything yet, but I left my telephone in Salelologa last weekend, so I am missing the many security updates that the Peace Corps office usually sends. 

This past year I have gotten to know many Japanese people from their volunteer organization, JICA, which is similar to Peace Corps.  They are some of the nicest people in the world, and I really hope their families are safe. 

Last night, I had a nightmare about a tsunami coming here, and it was terrible.

Last month, our neighbor New Zealand experienced a colossal earthquake and with Samoa having so many ties to New Zealand, the sadness set in here.  Japan is also one of our close neighbors, so I know Samoa will feel their pain as well.

My thoughts go out to the people in Japan.  I hope all of the missing people are found safe and sound. 

 

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Election Day Holiday-Manono Tai

Election Day Holiday-Manono Tai

If you ever want the traditional Samoan experience, you need to visit Manono Tai!  It is an amazingly beautiful island.  All of the people we encountered were so friendly, and the resort we stayed at was really nice. 

Manono Tai is about a fifteen to twenty minute boat ride from Upolu.  The boat ride is really nice and relaxing because the water taxi stand is full of only little boats, that we were somehow able to cram 25 people on board.  There were five of us up front having a nice wet ride as the boat went through the shallow water.

After we arrived we decided to go snorkeling.  We were taken back out on the boat to the coral reef.  The snorkeling wasn’t the best, but it is always fun to be on a boat with your friends.  We had our own little diving competition off the boat. 

Later in the day we decided to walk around the island.  It was exciting for me because completing the loop around the island meant that it was my 3rd island to go around the circumference.  I was hoping to ride my bike around the island, but I found out it was sa (against the village rules).  The reason why it is sa is because they don’t want it to be a distraction to village life.  I was going to run around the island, but I thought a run around the island would just be as distracting as bike riding, so I did not want to get others upset. 

On the walk around we saw the few sites there.  First we passed the Ancient Star Mount.  It is up the mountain, and I really wanted to hike up there, however I could not find the path there on my own.  The Star Mount is said to have been used in the ancient sort of pigeon-snaring.  I am not sure exactly what that is, but sounds interesting.  Also up there, a man was buried standing up, so he would be able to look over the entire island and keep it safe. 

Also on the walk, we saw a monument for a missionary and the grave of 99 stones.  The story goes with the 99 stone grave, that a high chief who had 99 wives was killed by villages when he was trying to escape to Upolu with his 100th wife. 

Besides seeing the sites, it was nice to see the calmness of Manono.  The road is a small path that is very rocky at times, while other times sandy.  It is a path that can sometimes only fit people walking single file, and other times has room for more.  What makes the island so beautiful is the fact that there are some laws that are perfect  in Samoa (but might seem strange elsewhere).  The first one is dogs are not allowed.  It is amazing to be on an island and not be scared to be bitten by a dog, making you carry rocks everywhere you go.  Also, pigs have to be in a sty.  If they are found outside, they are cooked and eaten by the village.  This makes the villages a lot cleaner.  For some reason, chickens also aren’t running lose everywhere as well.  All of these makes it easy for you to walk freely without having to worry about stepping on anything gross.

The whole island took less than an hour and a half to walk around, and was well worth it.

For each meal, we were informed by the normal way of gathering people, through the conch shell.  Our meals were a fabulous mix of traditional Samoan foods, which we all enjoyed. 

I was only in Manono Tai for less than 24 hours, but had a great time there.  It is a small, but beautiful island.

(Pictures are of the Missionary Monument, Grave of 99 stones, boys selling chips on their wheelbarrow, and other sites around Manono)

Election Day Holiday-The Election

Election Day Holiday-The Election

While I was in the vehicle heading to Manono Uta, we passed by one of the polling booths.  It was amazing to see, as it is so different than America.

The voting booths is someone’s house, decorated with streamers and anything else it can find in the inside.  (At least the one I saw was…)Outside the door is a policeman, and in most villages the line extends 20-30 people outside.  It was really interesting. 

Elections remind me of a school election, as you just tick the box of the candidate (there is a picture to go along with their names in case you get confused).  You then fold the piece of paper and place it in the box.  They then mark your thumb to prevent you from voting again.

When I walked past the voting booth in Manono Tai, I asked if I could go inside, and was told it was not allowed, so I don’t have much more to share about it, except by word of mouth (which sometimes gets lost through translation between the languages). 

I asked someone and was told that the results of the election should be available next week…(This was written several days ago. They had an ava ceremony to welcome the winners into Parliament the day after election day, however, they announced the winners the following Monday.)

Pictures are of the voting booths, Appolima Island and Manono Island.

 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Election Day Holiday-Circus and Fun


The empty ferry on Election Day. It was amazing not to see any cars.

The rows were completely empty with only 4 of us on the ship. It was amazing to stretch out.

The circus was right across from the wharf.

Delicious cotton candy at the circus.

Having a little too much fun at the circus.


Election Day Holiday=Circus and Fun!
Since we had a long weekend for the election day holiday, I decided to enjoy the time and have fun. To start off the holiday, Rachel and I met up to go to the circus, again. The circus came to Savai’i for two weeks. We were given complementary tickets from a friend, and were extremely surprised when we were ushered to a box seat and were seated front and center. To get in the circus mood, we are hot dogs (that tasted like American hot dogs) and cotton candy.
When the show started, I don’t think I stopped laughing for a minute. I think I really have Samoan humor down, as it is always a play on words. The show was different from the show I saw in Apia the previous month. Because of it being my second time seeing the show, I really had time to take in exactly what was happening during the show. Not only were the performers busy performing, but they went around seeing different things, such as key chains, toys, and food. During the show, the super strong men held the ropes for the pulley to work for the acts high in the air, such as the trapeze. It is still amazing to see the people do these amazing acts without a safety net protecting them.
Sadly my favorite act, the foot juggler from Nepal was not performing. But I didn’t get too disappointed because they changed many of the acts to make them better and have us rolling on the floor in laughter. Stoe the clown and his partner were hysterical with their acts. Stoe’s, the midget clown, partner handed me a bouquet of flowers, that of course shot water. (It reminded me of the trick items I loved to have when I was young.) Rachel was picked to perform the bells to “When the Saints go Marching In” with a big group of Samoans. She did such a fantastic job that even the Samoans who never applaud were applauding.
The four legged man did more magic tricks than last time to make me feel as if he earned his keep, and the rest of the acrobatic acts and jugglers were amazing.
I came to a realization as I was sitting there during the show. I grew up with Ringling Brothers Circus, and have always been amazing with how well they put the circus together. However, their ringmaster I could never pick out of a line up. They never stood out. However, everyone seems to know Bruno, the Ringmaster for the Magic Circus of Samoa. He must be more famous than all the other Ringmasters around the world.
As you can tell I really enjoyed the circus. (Today I actually saw one of the men that performed on the streets and I felt like I was near the biggest celebrity around.)
The following day was election day. I didn’t realize how much things would shut down. There were no busses, and I was nervous looking at the ferry and seeing no one there. But I was able to buy my ticket, and when I got onto the empty boat, the captain came up to me and two others to say since the boat was not full they would not leave. I then found out he was kidding. The boat was as empty as can be. There were only 4 of us passengers on the boat, and so I decided to lay out on a bench to read. I was interrupted when someone came up to me to tell me that the captain requested my presence. I followed the man upstairs, and was able to enjoy the rest of the time on the ship in the captain’s quarters. We hung out, sang and had a great time up there. I was welcomed to spend time with them each time I travelled on their boat. I felt completely welcomed.
When we docked in Upolu, I laughed as usually there is a big rush to get off the boat with people pushing and whatnot, but with only 4 of us and no vehicles, it was quite nice and enjoyable.
I was then ready to celebrate my Election Day on the island of Manono Tai…

Thursday, March 3, 2011

computers






Computer Fun
When my mom came, she donated a netbook to use at the school. I was excited to teach students about computers since usually they use them for the first time at college. (In my district, they make all of the students type their papers, this is a big improvement to other villages.)
I started using the mini computer to show English videos to my students. They were short song that had great animation to work on phonics, the alphabet, karaoke songs, and other little English skills.
Yesterday, I tried it one step further, I allowed a group of year 6 students to begin to create a power point of their essay, “My Friend”.
There was a lot of confusion, and I learned that I had not given enough instruction…but at least they got to learn through experimentation which was exciting for me.
These students had never ever used a computer, and I forgot how basic you have to start with your instructions. I alternated between assisting with the whole class essay writing, and my small group of computer kids so I could help them all. I was surprised that they didn’t know how to use the space bar, or backspace for mistakes.
But surprisingly, in 30 minutes, they were able to learn that, and write two sentences on their slides. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I was really proud of their accomplishments. Also it will be nice to have something more challenging for these kids to do when they finish their work.
Hopefully, by the time I leave, some of my students will be a wiz at basic things on the computer.

Tidbits from My Life


The chicken and her chicks at to'ogani

My sisters at the water tank where I now shower.

One of the teachers from my school on our new road.

Me and one of the guys building the road.

Me at school

Random Tidbits From Lili’s Life

Things I have learned lately….

  • Two prisoners escaped yesterday.
  • They are still doing work on our road. It is still not tar sealed but they keep raising it with rocks/dirt.
  • Rats eat everything. Not only soap, but they eat through the plastic containers of my peanut butter jars. No food is safe. I wish my roommate would leave!
  • In a neighboring village someone got kicked out for adultery. It happened again in another village 8 villages away.
  • Showering outside in the rain, is still more amazing that bucket showering inside.

Post Cards


My school

Me and one of my year 1 students.

Year 7 working hard.

Year 7 students

Year 5 class





Sharing Post Cards
As you know, I am collecting post cards for my school to promote English and learning about different cultures. Tasi, from New Zealand was the first one to send me one. Actually, not just one but four! On these post cards, he filled countless information about the history of New Zealand, about his family, and New Zealand currently. This provided countless teaching opportunities in all levels. I also learned a lot as well, since I have never been there. To me, it was interesting hearing about the Maori people, the first ones to settle on New Zealand.
To enhance my teaching as much as possible, I brought in an atlas (compliments of my mother), and taught the children how to use a Table of Contents to find the country we are looking about. I know this is a skill we will have to keep revisiting throughout the entire year. Some classrooms also had maps, and we tried to find the country on the given maps.
The best learning took place in the upper grades. They worked on read and listening as we went through the post cards. We talked about new vocabulary, and used the population numbers to compare. (It was perfect that we were working on comparative adjectives during the week.) We even acted out our own Haka dance to compare it to what the one in New Zealand looks like, and practiced saying hello the way Maori people do (they touch noses). When the students finished their work they had free reign to read and look at the pictures leisurely. They actually wanted to read and re-read them every chance they got. (I think it was their first time getting mail.)
As I visited classes in the lower levels, I shorted the sentences that I shared, to make sure there was complete understanding. We still used the pictures to guide our understanding.
By the time I got to years 1 and 2, I was only speaking Samoan to them, but they loved learning about a country where they have family members.
I have a book that I am collecting them in, and every day the students take out the book to read them. It is a beautiful site to see them read.
Thank you Tasi for starting off my project in a successful manner!

I just received two more post cards today from America-Wisconsin and Minnesota. Thank you both for sending them!!

Tatau



Tattoos

Here it is, not even two months later, and I find myself in the shop of one of the best tattoo artists in the world. This time two of my friends were getting Samoan designs marked permanently into their body. This time however I didn’t feel the rush I got when I went the previous time. It might have been because they were not getting them done traditionally, or something else, but I was not as interested going to watch it get done as last time.

But, because I am a friend, I went. It was a good girly time in the shop, and we all had fun together. I still get amazed looked at the pictures that him and his father did. There are so many trophies covering the walls, something you would never expect to see in a tattoo shop. These two really are some of the best artists in the world. And again, I felt the pressure of the artist wanting to ink me. He asked me specifically by name. I am impressed that he knew so much about me from one visit, but mom, you should be happy, I again said no. (He still is convinced I will be back…) We’ll see…

School Building


After school these are the girls that stay to help clean up.

Some kids on their way home.

I love the view from my school. It is such a beautiful village!

Year 2 students

Year 6 students

We are still waiting to hear about our school building grant, (hopefully after the long election weekend we will know more) but I have talked with someone from my village, and they have been working on collecting money for our portion of the school building. The school has to raise about 25% of the costs, and it sounds like at least 2 out of the 3 villages involved are on track.
I am glad to hear about people in my community taking initiative.

Vaka


The ship leaving the Yacht Club

The Samoan Flag saluted for the boys...and 2 girls before leaving.

loading food onto the boat.

The beautiful Vaka!

The food that was served.


Vaka

Six months ago when I was visiting Tonga, I heard all about the Samoan ship. I was told how knowledgeable they were, and how they were the best ship to go on for the yacht races. Unfortunately, they were not there at the time. So I went on another boat, in which we had a man overboard, lost our dingy, and had countless other problems. (At least it was interesting!)

Since then, I have gotten to know some of the crew of the vaka (boat). They are extremely nice, and have so much pride in their ship. The crew at the time of Tonga was half Samoans and half Palagis. But the goal of the ship with to train Samoans on the open seas and have a complete Samoan crew.

A few months ago they had job interviews, and last weekend, a crew of all Samoans, I think there were 16 of them, set out on the open seas ready for adventure. Most of them were leaving their country for the first time. While some of them, were leaving their village for the first time. Because of that, the boat launching ceremony was emotional for all that were there.

During the ceremony, while the prime minister and Miss Samoa were giving speeches, I was in the restaurant, doing the duties of a Samoan. I grabbed a gigantic breadfruit leaf, and fanned the flies away from the food.

When the speeches were over, and people had eaten, little boats were being loaded to bring food on board the ship. Packages of rice, and other bags were being put on the ship. After tearful farewells from their parents, the crew then went on board.

The crew then did a haka (traditional dance) as we all cheered from the sidelines. People then got inside little boats, and did circles around the vaka. We then sang the goodbye song, and they were off.

The amazing thing about this boat launching is that they will be gone for 18 months, and plan to use only traditional methods to find their ways. This means they have memorized the stars from every latitude and longitude line to be able to see the difference from wherever they may be. Because of current regulations, they are required to have a motor, however have no plans to use it.

These Samoans that just left are really brave for what they plan to do, They are going to come back so knowledgeable and able to do anything. The ceremony was so beautiful, and I really admire these sailors for what they are doing. I wish them a lot of luck, and can’t wait for their website to be up so I can see their journey.

Celebrity Report-Just Like E!


A group of us at the Laughing Samoans Show

The funny comedy duo

Celebrity Filled Birthday Celebration

For my birthday, we decided to spend the weekend in Apia, and I was excited. A few other volunteers had arranged to meet me in the city for the celebration. We had one very special night planned. We were going to see the Laughing Samoans.
Saturday night 7 of us got together to watch the hysterical show. The show started late as they were waiting for the Prime Minister to show up. The only problem is, that at the Faleata gym, the acoustics are horrible, so we sometimes did not understand everything that was being said.
After the show, I met up with a few more people and we listened to some music. The two people that were performing wished me a Happy 21st Birthday about 100 times, which made me feel special. The man playing the keyboard looked familiar, and I wasn’t sure why until later. Later we all got to talking and I found out where I had seen him before. He was the face of TV1, and was on all of those television shows that Samoans come to love, such as Samoa’s Best Dance Group, or Samoan Idol. I always saw him on tv, and wondered that even though he has Samoan skin, can he speak Samoan? I found out that night, that he can.
The next morning over breakfast, I looked over and saw the two men from the Laughing Samoans with their families. I went over and talked with one of them, (my Samoan dad had asked me to do this before I left) and learned how nice of a person he is.
As you can tell, me birthday celebration was fun…and I get to celebrate it again in a week in my village. I am sure it will be just as good, without the celebrity sighting.