Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cockroach Season

Cockroach Season

I know different animals have seasons where you see more of them at a certain time of year, and I have come to the conclusion that this time of year is cockroach season.  They seem to be everywhere….making me consider purchasing that toxic insect killer spray.   (It is toxic to humans as well.)  I don’t mind them as much as I used to, but when I saw one trying to crawl on my bed this morning, I started to get upset.  I hope cockroach season is over soon.

Track and Field and Cheerleading

Track and Field and Cheerleading

Yesterday was the last day of practice before our big track and field meet.  It was raining, and I skipped the previous practice because of the rain, however everyone was there, including all of the teachers.  They did all of their practice races barefoot, since wearing sandals you have a better chance to slip in the rain.  But I was still nervous of them slipping on the wet grass, or any of those brown piles on the field.  (Which is why I didn’t run with them...)

On Wednesday, the day I skipped, a javelin went through someone’s foot, and I am happy I missed seeing the blood from that. 

The kids did pretty good, many of them knocked some of their time off, however hearing the college records discouraged them.  They needed the reminder that this is for fun, and to just do their best. 

Last night I worked with some of the girls to create cheers for the race on Friday.  They are very excited to become cheerleaders, as we chanted after our run:

“We are Pasco (Shortened name for the school), the mighty, mighty Pasco.  Everywhere we go, people wanna know who we are, so we tell them…”

“U G L Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly, yea, yea you ugly!”  For some reason, the girls really liked that one..

and much more.  They asked me to come to their school to teach the cheers to all of the athletes, but I am unable to make it without missing my teaching responsibilities, so just made sure the girls all knew the words.  The girls will be better teachers than me anyway. 

I have had such a great time training with these kids, and I really hope I am able to join them on Friday for their races.  They may not be the fastest runner and the strongest athletes, but they have some of the biggest hearts. 

Think red and yellow!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Travelling Teacher

The Life of A Travelling Teacher

Who knew that while student teaching in the small town of Sheridan, Wyoming (It is big for Wyoming standards) that I would be preparing myself for being a travelling teacher.  When I first started student teaching, I found it difficult as I was a travelling teacher.  Half of my time was spent in the first grade classroom, while the other half was spent with a reading recovery specialist.  The travelling was hard for me, as I felt like I never had the opportunity to meet and get to know the children as well as a normal classroom teacher.  Through my struggles, I thought about switching majors, and then found contentment when I was placed fulltime in a grade 5 classroom.  I was finally able to see the joy of being a teacher.  I was happy with my career decision. 

A few years later I found myself teaching in Samoa, becoming the travelling teacher.  I would go to sometimes seven different classrooms in a day.  It kept me busy, but I enjoyed it.  But this year, after we received grant help to build a new school building,  I had the opportunity to become a real travelling teacher. 

Our school is in nine different houses, which means I hoof it with my backpack and an armful of extra materials to teach all of my many students.  I get to face the heat of the sun, rain, and dogs as I head around the village to all of the different “classrooms”. 

It is enjoyable but dealing with the atmosphere makes it sometimes difficult.  At least I am up for the challenge as a journey around the village. 


Lesson of the Day

Lesson of the Day

Today’s lesson of the day is:

When exercising in the early morning, and you go to pick up a rock, make sure you don’t pick it up where a horse normally resides.  It may not be a rock that you are picking up.


Monday, July 25, 2011

My Life-The Horror Show

My  Life-The Horror Show

So I don’t know when my life changed from the normal thing I was doing daily into a low budget horror movie.  But it has…and makes me wonder what is going to happen next.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel completely safe in my daily actions, but weird, and sometimes bad things are happening around me.

First, there was the attempted rape happening in my village.  Then I thought I saw a spaceship.  (I still am pretty convinced it was something..)  Now, I think there are ghosts around.

Many people here believe in ghosts.  There are so many superstitions on reasons why ghosts come.  Sometimes it is due to whistling, but there are other ways as well.  I grew up not believing in ghosts.  My parents would not let me have a Ouji board because they said they were fake.  Then, I went on the underground tour in Seattle, Washington.  My sister and I took a million pictures, and one of the ones we took had a spirit inside it.  We were so surprised when there was a reflection in one of the pictures.

Then a few years ago, while living in Colorado, the ghosts came back.  I wanted to deny it at first, but you can’t deny it when things are physically happening around you.  First it was at school.  The students reported on their climate survey that they felt something in the bathroom.  Then, things began happening in my classroom.  First things would go missing.  Next the clock became possessed.  It would just change time on its own.  We tried new batteries, plugging it into the wall, and always had the same results.  Switching clocks with others was next.  The clocks worked in other rooms, but not in my classroom. 

About the same time, ghosts were appearing in my house.  I think it was because my neighbors were experiencing a falavelave.  Until things settled down in their lives, weird things happened to me and anybody in my house.  Radios without batteries and not plugged in were   turning on, doors that were bolted shut were opening, but the weirdest thing happened to my cousin. 

Tommy was visiting and we had to go to the store to pick up something for dinner.  For some reason, my doorknob was broken.  We kept it in the door to aid us in opening and closing the door, but just locked the door with the bolt.  As we were about to leave, the door knob disappeared.  We searched for awhile, but it was nowhere to be found.  Then, at the supermarket, my cousin reaches into his pocket, and the doorknob appears.

Weird things have been happening since the rape happened in my village.  I used to not believe in spirits but over the past few years, and experiencing the strange things first hand, I have become a believer.  Things have disappeared, broken and it has just been strange. 

My life is totally a low budget bad horror film….just waiting to see what happens next.  I really hope it isn’t too bad….


My Rat Drama

Rat Drama

I hung my food in my duffle bag and it was a great solution for my rat problem for about a month, but the rat decided to break in and eat it.  He ate through in several places and ate several of my Cliff Bars. 

I need to find a new place to hind my food from this rat.  He is too smart for my own good. 


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aliens Exist

Aliens Exist

Okay so this post may make me come off sounding crazy, but after this morning I am convinced aliens exist.  I went out this morning to go exercise with my exercise partner, and I enjoyed the nice night’s sky.  However, one “star” looked different than all the others.  It was brighter than the others, but there was something more to it. 

I looked closer and it reminded me of a Christmas tree light.  It alternated colors from white to red to blue to green.  It was a beautiful sight.  I stood in the middle of the road watching it for quite some time.  When my exercise partner came out I had her come to the road, and look at it to make sure I wasn’t crazy. 

The object was really far away, that it seemed like a star, but there was that magical color to it. We agreed that there was something special with it. 

After exercising for a bit, we went outside to see if it was still there, and it had moved, but only a little bit.  I meant to go out again to check out the position change, but only went back out after then sun came out and was unable to see any change. 

The way it moved, it seemed too subtle to be an airplane, and with the different colors I came to the conclusion that it might be a spaceship.  We joked for a little bit about how these aliens were studying Earth life, and how to fit in by studying Samoa.  Watching us “coo” after chickens, carrying buckets of water to different houses, building houses, and who knows whatever else. 

I could be wrong, it might not be a spacecraft…but did anyone else see it?  Anyone else think aliens exist?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bad Day

Bad Day

Somehow you know it is going to be a bad day right away.  It might not be exactly bad for you, but you will feel bad as a result.  I came to school and something seemed off.  As we were being served our morning tea, someone went to take a few mats off of a shelf, and PLOP!  A weed whacker fell on me.  It was less than an inch from hitting my head.  It still hurt falling from the distance it did, but I can’t imagine the pain if I was sitting closer to the desk. 

Something else was going to happen, I felt it.  And sadly, I was correct.  Later that afternoon there was an attempted rape from a teenager.  It is so sad to see this happen, not only because of the horrible act, but it is horrible when you know everyone involved.  Luckily, the girl knew to scream loudly and was able to keep the boy off of her. 

This is the second rape attempt in the village since I have been here.  As soon as the one other girl found out what happened, she ran to her and showed as much support as possible.  The two of them are acting as their own support group.  It is really good to see them helping each other. 

I am hoping for this to be one of the last bad days like that.


School Athletes

School Athletes

School athletics are a little different from bigger countries than developing countries like Samoa.  This difference comes in with training.  In Bigger countries they have the facilities, equipment and clothing for proper training, here it is a different story.  It is very interesting to see the change and watch these children strive through the challenges.

There are over 60 students from my local college competing in track and field next week, and they all go to practice every day.  I think 3 or 4 of the students have sport shoes to run in.  The rest run through the field bare.  This doesn’t seem to bother them at all.  I have my sneakers on, and I try to avoid the piles left behind from cows and horses.  The students want to be the best so they don’t let it bother them as their steps go into these disgusting piles during the runs. 

The teenagers run in whatever clothes they have, some of their shorts or pants are jeans or a similar material.  I can imagine how difficult it is to do proper stretches or anything else in this clothing. 

I am even more proud of the teachers, each day over 2/3 of the school staff go to train with the kids.  They run, stretch, help them throw shot-puts, and do it all.  In Samoa, teachers have the reputation of being fat and lazy.  These teachers are breaking the mold by showing what they can do.  I’ve learned just how slow of a runner I am in comparison to many of them…but at least I try and have fun!

As we run on the uneven terrain, I am so proud of everyone for always doing their best.  They are not only pushing themselves, but pushing me to keep up with them as well.  I think by the end of all of our training, we will all be in the best shapes of our lives.  It has been a fun experience, and I hope we can keep up our evening running group for the next upcoming months. 


Quick Update

Quick Update

Here are a few things happening in the life of Lillian:

·         I just received a letter that was mailed in early December, 8 months to get a letter-new record!

·         I finally talked to the right postmaster, so now my mail that is addressed incorrectly is being forwarded locally.  No more having to travel 3 hours round trip to pick up mail!

·         7 of my students and 2 college students from my area won in the essay and art contest for Peace Corps 50th anniversary.  We celebrated with fish and chips locally.

·         My village started Sa (mandatory village prayer), so there are more ways to be fined in the village.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The morning I Almost Lost A Leg

The morning I Almost Lost A Leg

Okay, the title isn’t exactly true.  I didn’t almost lose a leg…I just was scared and those I might lose it.  I had woken up early, and at 4:45 I began heading to the neighboring village to meet my new morning running partner.  She is a new runner, and we weren’t planning on going far, so I figured I would do the 5 minute run to her house instead of walking. 

This is my first pre dawn run besides for the different races.  So naturally, I wasn’t thinking of all the precautions I need to take in order to stay safe.  I remembered my phone in case of an emergency, but forgot to pick up something much more important.

Rocks.  People need to always carry rocks during the moonlit hours.  Although some dogs can be nice during the day, during other times, when they feel they should obtain ownership of the main road, they can be vicious. 

I had run for only 20 seconds when 5 dogs came after me.  They jumped the fence of the house of their owners and started barking persistently at me.  I started running to the side of the road where there was rocks, and slid down as I tried to grab a few rocks to throw at the dogs while yelling “Halu!” (Go away for dogs.)They finally retreated and I decided to walk for a bit.  I was so scared with so many of them that I would wake up my neighbors screaming for bloody murder as they gnawed off my leg.  I felt like I caught a break there. 

When I felt far enough away from the dogs, I picked up the pace again.  I had my telephone in one hand, and a big rock in the other.  When I was heading down the hill, I shifted my rock and phone from hand to hand and lost concentration and biffed it down the hill.  I did not way to stay laid out in the middle of the road, so tried to ignore the pain and got up.  My hand and leg were a little scraped up, but there wasn’t too much blood for me to consider cancelling my plans. 

I limped for a little bit, but I tried to stay tough and strong.  I am glad I did because I had a fabulous morning.  For a girl that has never run before, she was doing amazing.  She was so much better than I was when I first started running last October.  We had such a fun time talking and exercising.  We had a few dogs come after us, but retreated when we threw our rocks.  We tried to be smart and walk every time we passed a house where there is a loud dog during the day. 

I feel like a definitely caught a break by nothing worse happening to me after the start of the day I had.  If there were no rocks around, I feel like it could have been the day my leg was gnawed away.


Samoan Rugby

Samoan Rugby

I don’t know if you watched the game yesterday, but Samoa played Australia in rugby….and we won!  This was the first time Samoa has beaten Australia!  On New Zealand news they had a big feature story on it….mainly focusing on how disappointing Australia was.  With the World Cup approaching in less than two months, Samoa looks ready to take on the world.

Last year Samoa was the World Champions in 7’s Rugby….maybe this is the year for the Manu 15 to show the world what this little country can do. 

Go Manu!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lucky to be Adopted

Lucky to be Adopted

Two girls from my village were just adopted from relatives in New Zealand.  These girls are extremely intelligent, and I was sad to see them leave.   But everyone sees opportunity overseas, and if there is a chance for someone to leave, they usually jump at it.

This is really sad to see because they leave their culture, and there is no way Auckland, is the same as Samoa.  Life will be so different for these girls, especially coming from Savai’i.  I experience a small culture shock when just heading to Apia, and most people in my village will rarely go to Salelologa, the bustling city of Savai’i, let alone Apia, which is about 1,000 times busier. It is a different world from our small village. 

A few people came up to me telling me how lucky these girls are because of the opportunities that are now in front of them.  While this is very true, with having a good education will only help their future, but they will be leaving so much behind. It is such a hard thing to leave your family and culture behind, with no idea when you will taste either one again.


Are you Peace Corps?

Are you Peace Corps?

“Excuse me are you a Peace Corps Volunteer?” I was asked as I was walking out the door with my bicycle helmet, and just stopped.  It is very rare that a while person asks that of me.  This is probably because most of the palagis are from Australia and New Zealand, and have never heard of the organization, just as most Americans have never heard of AYAD, Australia’s volunteering program.

She explained that she had heard bits of my conversation, and made the assumption.  I had an impromptu meeting with someone about doing the Samoa Health Challenge III in their village.  While we were talking, )and I braved down a cup of coffee to be polite-I have gotten used to eating and drinking many things, but sardines, canned corned beef and coffee are not on that list….) we talked about my busy morning.  I had already gone to my school to collect the remaining items before the walls came crumbling down, then biked over to the meeting.  After I was to head to the college to talk to the teachers about their athletics program, and then to another primary school to help with their computers.  After there, I was to head back to our new school office to help set up the computer and electronics.  Then, I had training with some of the teenagers at the college. 

I was so caught off guard, when she asked what I was doing in my village.   How do I begin?  I mean I feel like I am always doing so much, but when I explain it to people it doesn’t sound like anything but hanging out and having fun (which in some ways is completely true, but aren’t you supposed to enjoy your work?).  Her tax dollars are helping to support me over here, and I wanted to sound legit. So I told her about teaching, and our new school building, and invited her to see the new classrooms spread throughout the village. But drew a blank after that.

After setting up my exercise session with a girl who is concerned about getting diabetes (something very rare in Samoa), I left for the rest of my busy day.  I began thinking as I was holding my pulatasi in place as I was biking to my next destination, it is a good thing I am keeping this blog, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to explain to everyone when I get home, what I actually accomplished here.  I think people will expect to hear a little more than, “I made a lot of Samoan friends, that I became so close with that I felt a part of their families.”   They might want to think I did some work during the two plus years they did not see me. 


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Empty School

Empty School

I came up to the school expecting them to still be working, after all I couldn’t have been gone for more than thirty minutes.   But the field was empty.  I put my bike against the fence, and walked up to the field to the first classroom, year 3.  Papers were torn and on the floor, with some other rubbish on the floor.  The wall (plywood) connecting the room to another classroom was gone, along with other wood around the rooms.  All I could see was the frames for the two rooms.  I walked up to the year 8 classroom, and more plywood walls were down connecting it to the principal’s office.  Then I went and saw something amazing.  I walked through to the office.  I was able to see to the end of the school.  Every wall was down and all there was leftover rubbish on the floor.  It was really amazing to me to be able to see all the way to the end of the school building.  About 8 classrooms down, I saw a quick image of a child running through.  Probably enjoying his last time to play inside on the school.

The house I live at has turned into the office, while open fales around the village have become classrooms full of desks.  The walls that were torn down are being put up for chalkboards in the open fales.  

There is still much more work to be done, but it is amazing to see the process unfold. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Samoa Challenge 3

Samoa Challenge 3

After being rejected in two villages for a health project, I had thought about giving up.  Someone tried helping me in a third village, but that didn’t seem to be going anywhere.  I was getting frustrated, because I was doing all that I could, while still seeing absolutely no results. 

Then I became a semi coach, helping girls train for their college competition.  I thought why not try with these teenagers?  They are Samoans that most of the year are typical, however now have the inspiration to become athletes.  If we start them with wanting to live a healthy life now, it might help them for the rest of their lives, and they might be able to inspire their families members.  (Hey I can dream, can’t I?)

62 teenagers are scheduled to sign upon Monday  and sign the pledge for a healthier lifestyle.  Along with that 15 teachers are slated to sign up.  These teachers have been training with the kids after school daily.  It has been really impressive to watch, since these are teachers that never choose to exercise, and here they are trying their best to help the kids. 

Teenagers inspiring adults and adults inspiring teenagers about health.  It is a really nice thing to see.

I also talked with someone in another village, and I might get a small group of women to also join the challenge. 

Here’s hoping for a change to combat diabetes and high blood pressure. 




I was just Samoan-ized.  I was coming home from a nice dinner with a few other Peace Corps that are visiting from other areas, and like normal, I was too lazy to untie (yes untie) the gate, so I hopped over.  My new dress I just got from my seamstress got caught on the metal wiring and now had a huge tear near the bum.

Samoa, you always find ways to get me. 


Thursday, July 14, 2011


My School

I remember in the year 2000, thousands of us students were on the football field of our high school.  The power was out, and they were unable to get the generator to work.  They were working on a time limit, if they were unable to get the power back on, school would be canceled.  We began counting the minutes until their deadline.  When we were in the last ten minutes, it turned on and we headed into our school building.

This scenario would never happen is Samoa.  There is such an extreme difference on what is necessary in schools, and what is not between American schools and Samoan Schools.

I have learned to love my school throughout the past year and a half.  I know where to avoid the floor, so I don’t trip over the broken cement holes.  I have learned to enjoy the students trying to grab my attention through the broken walls to the outside.  I have learned to write on walls with horrible blackboard paint.  The leaks, the holes, it’s home. 

What always gives me a smile are our days without water and electricity.  Water is always an iffy topic.  Sometimes, we have it, sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we have it at the tap outside, but not in the bathroom.  Other days we are with power, sometimes it is a complete power outage, sometimes it is due to not being able to buy power locally (we buy it through a scratch off card, which is sometimes out of stock).

Many of the schools we work at in Samoa, would be condemned in America, but it doesn’t seem to bother people.  It makes people want to strive for improvements in their community.  It is very empowering.  No matter what the building is made of or looks like, it is a part of our community, which makes it part of our home. 

Next week, they really are going to begin tearing down the school building to make a sturdier building.  I guess it is the people inside the building who are the ones to make the building feel so warm and loving, so I hope the new building will bring the same feelings since it will have the same wonderful people inside. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Trip for The Champions

Winners’ Picnic

Peace Corps had an essay and art contest for their 50th anniversary, and my students places 1-5 in the primary art competition, and 1-3 in the primary essay competition, along with students at my local college placing 1-2 in their college art competition.  This was a competition from all of Samoa!  They were in year 4, 6, 7, and 12, and represented three different villages.  Of course, I have been ecstatic with how well they did, and wanted to give them a great prize since they were unable to come to Apia for the celebration because of the distance. 

We decided to have a fish and chips party for my 8 winners  (the other 2 will have a celebration on another day).  Ordering from the local eatery, it took awhile for our food to come (even though we put the order in yesterday).  It didn’t bother my students though.  I had my camera, and let them take pictures and videos with it.  It is beautiful to see the students using technology for the first time, because at first they are always so unsure and scared of breaking everything, but over time they begin to feel comfortable, and that is when the funny pictures come out. 

When we got our meals, one of the girls picked up a French fry (chip) and asked what it was.  It was amazing to me that it was her first time seeing that common food.  We shared soda as we ate, the children making sure to save a portion for their families at home, which is very Fa’aSamoan in their mannerisms. 

We walked each child to their house as they proudly carried their food to their parents.  It was such a great day and worth the money spent on the adventure because the children rarely get rewarded for their good deeds.  They were so appreciative and spending the extra time with them after school was such a great treat for myself.  I am so proud of my students.


Coach Lil

Coach Lil

Somehow I wound up being a coach to several girls track athletes.  The college has a competition next week, and I have several girls flocking to me to help them train for their competition.  Somehow, I think I have signed myself up for three training sessions a day…..Yikes!

I hope our hard work pays off for all of us.  (2 months until the next cross island race!)


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thank You

Being a volunteer here, we don’t hear many thank yous.  We try to never let it bother us, and it truth, we have gotten used to it. So when we do receive a thank you, we are sometimes caught off guard.  I was yesterday. 

While I was walking on the road with another woman, we started talking about her husband, and how well he is doing.  He just finished the Police Academy last month and is now working as a police officer.  We talked about the dangers of working in Apia, since there was a falavelave of “gang fights” in which many people were injured, including 60 police officers. We talked about how much safer we are on Savaii, as nothing bad goes on here.

Then, the woman reminded me of last year when I helped her complete a job application for her husband.  I had forgotten all about it since I have helped several people with them and never heard anything.  She then walked me through the process of how he got employment and is now able to provide for the family, and it started with the help I gave with grammatical issues and typing. 

It was nice to get a thank you, but at the same time I feel a little bit of guilt for him having this job.  The husband works in Apia, and is able to come home 2-10 days a month (I think it is more on the lower side), which might be okay, except he has two young daughters aged one and two.  He will not be able to see them grow up as well from afar.  But that is true for most people for work.  You can make the choice of staying home and being with your families, or choosing to only see them on the weekends as we live too far to commute daily.  What a hard decision people have to make.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Postcards, Postcards, Postcards!!!

I have trouble updating the side bar while I am in the village, and will do so as soon as I am back to city life again….but because of all of you, I have become best friends with the post master at my post office.  Last week I was the only one to receive mail, and got 10 new postcards, all from different people and different places!  How amazing is that?  We have people sending postcards from 5 different continents, which includes 9 different countries.  In America people have written from 19 states, the capital, and 1 US territory.  In total 54 postcards and 38 letters!

Today at interval, I had two of my slowest readers in year 6 sprawled out on the floor trying to decode the writing, and using their English to make sentence about the different pictures.  Across the school yard there were about 10 people trying to share the lone Atlas to read about the different places.

3 maps have been started, but we have not finished them yet, but the students have so much pride in their work-it is beautiful.  Our painting of the maps are not perfect, as some children in their attempt to paint more, combine countries.  This has happened a long in Europe and Central and South America.

Here is an updated list of all of those who have sent postcards and letters.  Those in bold are the new ones just received. 

Postcards from USA
Uati from Alaska, USA
Renee from San Diego, California, USA
Bill from Columbia State Park, California, USA
Bill from Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Jen from Nederland, Colorado
Tanyah from Florida, USA
Kemari from Florida, USA
Brian from Florida, USA
Erica from Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Elizabeth from Somerville, MA, USA
Jane from Minnesota, USA
Erica from St Louis, Missouri, USA
Renee from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Erica from New Jersey, USA
Chris from Brooklyn, NY, USA
Megan from Charlotte, NC, USA
Matthew from Astoria, OR, USA
Ben from Tennessee, USA
Joey from Texas, USA
AJ from Utah, USA
Richard from Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA
Jen and Jason from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Bill and Kathleen from Utah, USA
Howard from Virginia
Kathleen from Seattle, Washington, USA
Uati from Seattle, WA, USA
Kelley from St John, US Virgin Islands, USA
Elisa from Mount Barker, Washington, USA

Casey from Washington D.C, USA
Howard from Washington D.C

Howard from Wisconsin, USA

Garrett from Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Mrs. Hoeft from Big Horn, WY, USA

Postcards from Oceania
Tasi from Wellington, New Zealand
Kyle from Sydney, Australia
Billy from Fiji

Postcards from Europe
Claire from Ireland
Lyne and Marcus from Cologne, Germany


Postcards from Asia
Rosie from Aomori, Japan

Postcards from Africa
Garrison from Senegal, West Africa
Hanah from Gambia, West Africa

Demetria, Staten Island, NY USA
Simona, Staten Island, NY USA
Anthony, Staten Island, NY USA
Justina, Staten Island, NY USA
Emily, Staten Island, NY USA
Kevin, Staten Island, NY USA
Annabelle, Staten Island, NY USA
Jay, Staten Island, NY USA
Gordon, Staten Island, NY USA
Larissa, Staten Island, NY USA
Jacqueline, Staten Island, NY USA
Erich, Staten Island, NY USA
Marchi, Staten Island, NY USA
Nicholas, Staten Island, NY USA
Brianna, Staten Island, NY USA
Maria, Staten Island, NY USA
Harvey, Staten Island, NY USA
Allison, Staten Island, NY USA
Anand, Staten Island, NY USA
Chloe, Staten Island, NY USA
Nichole, Staten Island, NY USA
Zoe, Staten Island, NY USA
Jake, Staten Island, NY USA
Amanda, Staten Island, NY USA
Autumn, Staten Island, NY USA
Michaela, Staten Island, NY USA
Malachy, Staten Island, NY USA
Alyssa, Staten Island, NY USA
Ben, Staten Island, NY USA

Thank you again for all that you have done to support this project!  It would not have been anything without all of you!

Counting Cars

Some people listen to IPods while running to keep them entertained.  I choose a different approach.  I count cars.  In the hour and a half that I ran, walked, and hung out there were 14 cars one day.  Another day I was only out for 40 minutes, and in the first 30 minutes there were 7 cars, however rush hour hit during the last ten minutes and there were 10 cars  and busses in that time alone.  Rush hour here is much different than rush hour elsewhere.  It takes places for about ten to twenty minutes about an hour to an hour and a half after the ferry arrives.  It is the busiest during the last ferry. 

Counting cars is a fun activity to do.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sleeping Habits

Sleeping Habits

I have always been known to do stupid things in my sleep.  Not as bad as some people  I have known, but bad enough for my subconscious to do without my knowledge.

When I was in junior high, I had a bad habit one year of saving all my homework until the end of the term to do, which caused me to pull an all nighter.  After school the next day, I went straight to sleep.  My sister woke me up when a friend called, and in my sleep I mentioned something about ordering a pizza.  My sister questioned me and I made a confession about killing the pizza delivery guy because he brought the wrong pizza and buried him in the backyard.  I woke up probably 20 minutes into this conversation crying hysterical because I thought the police were coming after me.  My friend was still on hold laughing hysterically as my sister had to calm me down. 

Here I do not hear of the things I say or do too often because it is just me in my room.  However, last weekend, a few of us were enjoying a sleepover, and I was asking another PCV about her trip, when she was actually sick and trying to go to the bathroom.  The next day she asked me if I was teasing her.

This week, I noticed another stupid thing I did.  I don’t know if I was trying to go on the internet in my sleep or what, but I took out my USB modem, and somehow took out the SIM card out of the little holder, and reinserted it inside the computer.  Needless to say, the next day when I tried to go online, I could not because my SIM card was stuck incorrectly inside the modem.  I had to play “operation” for about 40 minutes before I could get the tweezers in the correct location to retrieve my SIM card and put it in correctly. 

Most of the things I do in my sleep usually have to deal with talking, which is good, because I have heard stories of friends who have left their house and wandered around in the snow while asleep, others who have woken up in their car, far away from their apartments.

I am glad my sleep interactions are more “low key” than the others I know.




There is something very satisfying as spending a Sunday afternoon checking your hair for lice.  I feel like I can spend hours doing it (in fact I have today).  And when you find the little bug, squishing him between your fingernails to see him die is exciting.  I still haven’t come around to eating the little nits yet, but I can understand doing it.  I mean we consume so many ants here on a daily basis in our food and drinks, they probably taste just like them.  Nothing too bad. 

After finding a bunch of the little nits in my hair, I thought about having the children stop giving me different hairstyles at school, or giving me hugs in which our hair touches forever, but what would the fun be in that? 


It's Not That Easy Being Green

It’s Not That Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog said it, and I am living it.  With the weather here, infections spread so easily, and it is hard to give proper treatment to avoid the green body color.  It feel like at least every fortnight, a part of my body turns green.  I feel like during the 1 ¾ years, I have covered most of my body. The most recent is my knee…where I do not think I had an outside cut, I think the infection started from inside, with my scar from falling off my bike last year.  


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Island Living

Island Living

Although island living has its advantages, such as the beautiful ocean all around and wonderful scenery, it often has its disadvantages.  The disadvantages come when it comes to shopping and being more like the Western World.

The disadvantage I have seen recently, is when trying to shop for a new modem for internet access in my village.  For two weeks I found out they were out of stock on my island, and two weeks later, I learned that they were out of stock on both islands.  I  enquired at the store when I could get internet again, and they said it would be another month or so.  Meaning whenever the right boat comes in.

Another disadvantage that I noticed, is when it comes to food shopping.  For two weeks, my island was without butter, for 3 weeks it was without eggs, and you never know what specialty expensive food would be out to make it even more of a treat to eat.

Five more months and my food options won’t be so limited.  Shopping at the stores will have what I need in stock, and probably much more that I don’t need as well.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tsunami Warning

Today there was a brief tsunami warning...but the warning was big enough to cancel work. When the warning was over, most people decided not to return to school....or work...or their meetings...oh Samoa, I love you.

Postcard and Global Awareness Project

Postcard and Global Awareness Project

Phase 1 Postcards-Underway
The postcard project is going great!  We have made it to 5 continents, and have amazing original reading passages sent from each person.  I finished my first book of postcards, and am almost finished with the second one.  Students are always picking up the books with the atlas to find the different places.  There are 3 classes that are now experts at using the atlas, which will help them later in life with using reference material.  They can find places from the table of contents and the index.
Along with reaching 5 continents, (Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America) we have had so many people write from America.  Part of our mission while serving here in Samoa is to teach the locals about Americans to help erase any stereotypes.  So far the classes have learned about 13 of the states, the capital and 1 US territory.  All of you are doing an amazing job helping me with my mission!!!  We have been able to see the different landscapes of America, and the kids are enjoying the new vocabulary that goes with it.  (We have also had learned so much from every other country as well.)
The students have written back to most of those that have provided their addresses, and I always have a chuckle watching them try to put the stamps on.  Each student is learning a lot about the mail process, from addressing letters, watching me ride my bike to the post office with their postcards, and seeing me come back with the different new postcards.  Each student that is near the road tries to stop me to find out who their new friends are. 

Phase 2-Map Project- Underway
On Thursday in the year 6 and 7 class, we started creating our world maps.  We drew out the world on a piece of fabric and will begin paining it the following week.  As children took turns drawing each country in the world, we practiced recognizing each continent, and ocean.  We flipped through the postcard books to point on our new map the countries and continents for each of our pictures. 

Additional Learning-Students are writing e-mail messages back to those children in other schools in America that have written to them.  This year is their first time touching a computer, and they are learning about sending and receiving messages.

Ending Goal-Students will have a better understanding of the global world.

Keep sending the postcards!  We love receiving them!

(Pictures are of a year 7 student writing his first e-mail, year 7 and their map after day 1, year 6 drawing an outline of their map, year 6 and their map after day 1 of drawing, year 5 students identifying vocabulary from the postcard picture)


4th of July

We had stepped on American soil.  It felt nice.  I was a part of the Samoan National Orchestra, and I think we did an okay job. (Not as good as other national orchestras for obvious reasons…) They had a beautiful ceremony, and we did a great job celebrating Peace Corps 50th anniversary.  At the end we lit sparklers to celebrate Independence Day.

Attached is a pictures of PCVs and RPCVs of Samoa that attended the event


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Village Wedding Band

A Village Wedding Band

A child walked  past me with blood splashed across his face.  He had a big smile on his face as he passed the big open fale.  Was I worried?  Not at all, I was at the end of a wedding, in which the gifts were being distributed and he was carrying the head of the bull home to his parents. 

Weddings in Samoa are so wonderful, and I was able to experience this wedding in a different perspective, as being part of the wedding band.  This was my first time performing since my high school concert band.

We were supposed to arrive at 9:00, and at 8:30, my family had heard that the wedding had already started from people walking around, so  I hurried out the door.  We should have never believed those people, because even though they are from the village where the wedding was to take place, they had walked the two villages to our house.  How would they really know?  The wedding was on Samoan time, so the rest of the band showed up between 9:30 and 10. 

Since I was there early, I gave a small flute lesson to one of the boys in the band who is anxious to learn as many instruments as possible.  It is a lot of fun to teach others how to play the flute because it reminds me of when I was 11, struggling to get the same sounds out. 

We all finally met in the open fale by the church and practiced one of the songs that we were to play.  I was given four songs to transcribe into my instrument the previous night, but was missing some, and that was one of them.

The band then headed uta (away from the ocean) to the house where the bride was getting ready.  We played a song for her, and then the parade was to start.  The band marches first playing music, and they are followed by the wedding party.  The parade always begins at the house where the bride gets ready and ends at the church. 

The song we played during the parade, was another song I didn’t have, but I was able to figure out a few of the notes, and played the little parts I was able to.  We marched on the main road, and then to the church.  When we got to the church, we moved to give the wedding party the walkway as we played, “Here Comes the Bride”. 

After the church service we sat down around an open fale playing music while people ate cake and ice cream, then we headed to the house where the parade started again.  At the bridal house we were showered with chips, and I was lucky enough to get a apple as a treat.  We played several songs while people danced, and after the talent competition (it seems as if all Samoan weddings have a talent competition…)  we played some more.

After the wedding, we went to the pastor’s house to accept our payment for this wedding..this is when the young boy passed with the gigantic bloody head of a bull.  Others were carrying around big slabs of cows.  It gave me a chuckle to see these men in their nice church clothes carrying around bloody carcasses.  Then the band boys got to work dividing up our payment for working.  There were 3 boxes of frozen chicken and 1 gigantic pig.  The chicken was chucked around to try to be placed in smaller portions to give to everyone, as the boys went to town dividing up the pig with the machete. 

After I received my portion, I had someone ride their bicycle next to me to help my with the huge basket of food.  It felt nice to present my payment to my family.