Track and Field
I was told the school bus was at 4 in the morning to the track and field competition. Then the time changed to 5, and I was unsure of what time it will actually come, since it is Samoan time. So at 4:45 I left my house with the glow of the moon guiding me to the bus stop. There were already half a dozen people there ready to go. One of my girls had found shoes from someone, and asked me for socks, which meant I had a quick run to the house to give her a pair.
We waited at the bus stop sitting in a circle around the faleo’o. Some of the students were stretching, others were having fa’aousi (my spelling is horrible…and there is no spell check for Samoan words on Microsoft Word….although it would come in handy many times-it is taro with some kind of sauce).
Finally the packed bus came. We were sitting four to a seat with many people standing. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is some way for a school to travel to a sports competition.” I remember in high school for our swim meets we would have a big school bus all to ourselves which meant we could each have our own seat with extra to spare. It got us to our meets in Brooklyn relaxed and ready to do our best. What a different way to travel for these kids.
Along the way we met another bus, and some of the students got off. We were still lap seated, but there weren’t any more students standing, so they were able to relax their legs.
We arrived where the match was it was close to eight. My legs were stiff from lap sitting for so long, but I didn’t have to worry about competing.
We marched onto the field as a school cheering and found our section of the lawn. One of the pastors from our district came with his car and a tent for people to sit under. The students warmed up while the others were setting up. Students were taking shoes out of bags of shoes they borrowed, and they were passing them around to see who they fit. It was beautiful to see them share so well the little things they have.
I was curious about how the event was going to be set up. I knew there was no proper running track on Savaii, and I was hoping it would be better conditions than the poop filled field the students had trained on. They spray painted the grass to make a running track. They had a sandpit for the jumping competition, and some mats and a bar for the high jump.
All the students from the 10 schools joined on the field for the Morning Prayer and national anthem. It was really interesting to watch the different schools, because you were able to tell easily which school had more money than the others. Each school had their own uniforms. My school had “PSC” painted on the front of a tee shirt. Most of the tee shirts they used were used, but they looked good in uniform. I thought they looked really good until I saw the other schools, whose shirts looked like they were made more professionally because of the design (I think in truth only one school had them professionally made), and it looked like everyone had a new shirt.
The day kicked off with a 200 meter run. In the first run, two out of the six girls on the track had shoes, an impressive number. They then continued with the rest of the races and competitors moved across the field for their different events. I took turns watching and cheering to helping some of the kids warm up and get enthusiastic for their events.
Our school, which seems the most barefoot of them all did pretty well. The runners were getting their best times, while the throwers were able to get a greater distance. I did not see a race where our school got last place, but there were only a handful where we placed first as well. When the day ended our school was in 6th place over all.
Several students qualified for the next round of the competition in Apia, and are doing fund raising to find their transportation money there. The whole school is helping out and the kick off is a walk-a-thon this week.
I know the next round will be just as much fun as the first, only with more wealthy schools involved, which means people running in more shoes.
I am proud of the kids for all they have done so far.