Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to Work

Back to Work

Wow this feels strange….after a month and a half of just looking for things to do, here I am back to work feeling overwhelmed! 

I just started at my new job at Samoan Victims Support Group and I can already see how challenging of a year it is going to be.  My job title is the Home School Coordinator.  I knew it would be a lot of work, but after one day, I feel like I jumped into the deep end and I hope I can tread water long enough to survive!

The school is basically for foster children who live in a shelter behind my house.  Last year was the first year of the school, and it struggled, but it made it by.  Like most schools in Samoa, sometimes there were teachers, but more often than not the older students watched the younger students.  There was no curriculum and volunteer teachers came in to teach whatever they felt like.  Often the entire school was placed together for lessons.  Primary through College level learning the same thing….

There is one full time teacher under me, and I have put her to work to help me try and devise a curriculum.  I am going to piece together a curriculum for math(s), English, Social Science, Basic Science, Art, Physical Education, Technology and Library Education.  The other teacher will do Christian Education and Samoan.  After spending waaaaaaaay too much time on the internet, I have a guide on how I plan to do some of the curriculum and am just hoping that I can get the first week (or few) planned out before the start of school on Monday! 

I wasn’t thrown into the wild completely….we did receive a “curriculum” of some math worksheet, English tests and biblical stories.

It is Tuesday and we decided to give a test to place the students into the multilevel, multi-ability classes.    I have finished my sections of the English and Math for the two primary classes, and have a math test for the college level, and now I am just waiting for the other teacher the Samoan section of her tests.  In addition by Friday, I was told to interview each student to help guide their placement.

Yesterday we decided on a school schedule, as we are adding two additional hours to the school day from previous years. 

We are making progress…slowly but surely….I am just hoping I can keep my head above water long enough to pull it off!



About two weeks ago I was on the jumbotron at a Nuggets game.  It was really exciting, not only because I won an awesome prize and got to be courtside to see how tall the players really were, but it is always cool to see your face somewhere else.

Last week I was on TV (Altitude), since I was at the location where they were filming the fans for the Nuggets away game against the Knicks.  (Are you sensing my Nuggets pride yet?)

I just finished being interviewed by TV3 about my current job assignment.  The interview was conducted in English, and was pretty intimidating since I am still brand new to the job.  Afterwards they asked if I wanted to try the interview in Samoan, they told me it is okay if it is broken Samoan with incorrect grammar. After the first question about my job, the rest of the questions were about learning the language and how I plan to use it in the future.

I am a complete superstar, who knows where you will see my face next?  Maybe a movie?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Place in the World

Greetings from the westernmost place on Earth...American Samoa. It has been a long trip back to Samoa, since I left on Sunday, and although I leave in just a few short hours back to Samoa on a half hour flight, I won't arrive until Saturday. This is do to many factors...The first getting to Samoa is much harder than a year ago when there was a nonstop flight from Los Angeles. I had to take four flights to get to the mainland, and 4 flights to get back to Samoa. On Sunday while I was waiting for my flight in Salt Lake City, Utah (I never realized how beautiful those mountains is a perfect view right outside the airport.) my plane broke. It had maintenance issues and while we awaited a new part, many of us were scrambling around to figure out our connecting flights. Most people were just heading to other Hawaiian islands, which is easy as there are many flights out a day, and I think I was the only exception. "You know there aren't many flights to PaGo PaGo" the airline attendant told me as I chuckled with the hard emphasis on the G's. The next flight was not until Thursday, so I would have to wait it out in Honolulu until then (what a hard task!).
Hawaii was full of adventure. I packed so much into those four days that I made it really worthwhile. I went to the USS Arizona, scuba dove a ship wreck, went to the zoo to visit the lion from Denver (and hang out with goats in the petting zoo), sunrise hike up Diamond Head, and a trip to Sea Life Park (where I got to see the only wholphin in the world-Mom was a dolphin and Dad was a Killer whale which made a gigantic dolphin weighing 900 pounds.), and hung out with my cousin who for geographical reasons, I barely ever see. I also continued on my quest to eat America and eat everything I can possibly....which was so delicious!
Thursday came, and upon arriving at the airport, I was thrilled to see so many happy Samoan faces. (Not to say that Hawaii isn't full of them as well!) I got myself adopted into a family, and when no one was sitting next to me on my flight, a little girl name Katie decided best friends sit together. Katie talked to me the entire trip, quizzing me on my Samoan and telling me about EVERYTHING! It was really cute how the father was always waiting for me to catch up so we can do everything together, even going through customs.
Thursday night, I recieved my last treat of airconditioning and hot water in a hotel in Tutuila (American Samoa), and today, Friday, I travel back to Western Samoa.
As you probably know, while I was away Samoa decided to skip a day (Dec. 29th) and go into the future by moving the international date line. Fridays are good days to skip as you go directly into the weekend. I am glad I can follow their advice and go straight into Saturday.
It will be nice to be back in Apia, and I am really looking forward to the next year.
Let the adventures begin!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Samoa vs NY -Public Tranportation

For the past few weeks I have escaped the heat of Samoa and have been visiting my parents and brother in NYC. I have learned there are a lot of differences between New York and Samoa which at some points might have gotten me confused......Here are some of the differences about public transportation.

The Staten Island ferry is always a smooth comfortable 30 minute boat ride. The Samoan ferries can often often make you feel a bit seasick. Depending on the boat, and the water conditions, the ride can be anywhere from 1-2 1/2 hours.

Colorful Samoan buses . Sleek looking buses in NYC.

About public transportation:
  • In Samoa the buses are amazing as the bus drivers "pimp their rides" and have it decorated in so many different ways from posters to flags, to a billion mirrors to anything else they can find. In New York, they are not decorated at all-except with the occasional poster letting you know about the holiday schedule.
  • In Samoa people don't worry about the bus timetable. They know about when it comes, and it might mean waiting outside for several hours, or maybe hitchhiking if you missed the last bus, but no one worries as they know they will find a way to get where they need to. In New York, people check the timetable religiously. They will make every effort to complain if the bus, train or ferry is even 5 minutes late.
  • In Samoa, there is a ferry schedule, however you never really know if there is a 10:00 or noon ferry, as one of them is always skipped and you might have to wait an extra two hours if you show up for the wrong ferry. In New York, ferries run 24/7 quite frequently so there SHOULD be no reason to complain.
  • In Samoa, if you see someone who is older you will give your seat up to them. Why would you want someone who you should respect look for a seat when you can find one in the back yourself. Fuggedaboutit in NY. Although there are signs saying for people to do it it is rarely done, only if the person is extremely old.
  • In Samoa the buses are made completely of wood, which can make for a soar bum for long trips. Often there is a screw digging into your side or knee, but you can usually get used to the indent there. In NY, the buses are completely modern and the seats are so comfortable-you can easily go to sleep on them.
  • In Samoa you get to enjoy wonderful (sometimes) music blasting on the bus making you want to stand up and dance. In NY, you have to provide your own music....and make sure there are headphones because otherwise there might be a fine.
  • In Samoa, if you run out of seats, people pull you around to have you sit on their laps. If you are already sitting, you start grabbing kids and babies, as they are much lighter to be on you that some adults. In New York, if you grabbed someone's baby you might get arrested. There is also no lap sitting on the bus. No people sitting 5 to a double seat...
  • In Samoa you will often hold things for other passengers. It may mean a bowl of soap, a bag of groceries, or more often than not a purse. In New York, if you grabbed someone's bag to help them out so it will not be on the floor they might smack you.
  • In Samoa, people go out of their way to sit next to you. Personal space does not exist. In New York if you sat directly next to someone, it will usually cause them to get up and look for another seat.
  • In Samoa, anywhere on the route is your bus stop, and the bus can stop 20 times in a 100 foot area. In New York, only use the designated bus stops.
  • In Samoa the taxi prices go off of a fare sheet and are predictable. In New York the meter never stops running!
  • In Samoa the taxis are all white. In NY the cabs are all yellow (except in outside boroughs).
  • In Samoa, if you forget something on the bus, the bus driver will try to get it back to you. In NY consider it lost forever.
  • In Samoa, you know everyone on the buses. In NY, you only know the people you are traveling with.
  • In Samoa, if you don't know a person on a bus, there is no fear in talking to them. In NY don't talk to strangers.
  • In Samoa the buses are used to transport things to stores and huge items to households. This may mean the floor of the bus is full or concrete, bags of rice, boxes of chicken, or have all the passengers helping to hold pvc piping out of the window. You can stop the bus driver and give him money to shop in the city for you. In NY, people travel light with only small personal items. Stores can get their own items and people need to find their own way to get to the store.
  • In Samoa the bus drivers assistant helps everyone around the bus with bags, making sure there is a seat, or a lap to sit on. In New York, you are on your own.
  • In Samoa the sides of each bus are decorated amazingly with funny phrases to let you know the difference between each bus. There is the Bon Jovi bus, the Beautiful Savai'i bus, The Forget Me Not bus, and so many more. In New York, the only difference between the the buses are the numbers letting you know the route.
  • In Samoa you sometimes have to worry about the status of your bus. There is always a chance it may break down. Sometimes it is a quick fix and the bus may just "be a little thirsty", other times you can be at the side of the road for longer. No matter what people don't leave the bus as they know the bus driver will tell them everything they need to do. In NY, people would be running off of the bus IF it did break down (they are in much better condition than Samoa). The only time I was on a bus that became inoperable, one of the wheels fell off and we got on a new bus within two minutes.
  • In Samoa the ferries carry cars back and forth. In NY because of terrorism (I think that was the original reason for stopping it), cars can not go on the boats. You need to take bridges and tunnels.
I am sure there are many more differences in transportation....but Samoa and NY differ quite a lot!