Thursday, February 28, 2008
Two weeks ago my school's rugby team competed in their first tournament (I know, I am behind on the blogging, so sue me). Our under 19 team went all the way to the finals and lost in over time.
I wanted to thank our friends and family who donated to the rugby team fund raising. The team is trying to go to Australia for a tournament in May and the fund raising was to help with that. A special shout out goes to Joe and Erin, friends from our days at the E-ville Courier & Press, who gave a very generous donation.
You can see the pictures of the team on the Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/seereeves).
Anyway, the point of this post is to tell everyone to send us their Flickr info so I can make you a friend or family on our contact again. If you are not a friend or family contact, you will not be able to see any of the photos marked as private (which includes pitures of our schools and village and of our host family).
Thank you for your time.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Things are changing here at Peace Corps Sāmoa. Country Director Kim Frola's last day was today, February 26. After more than four years of service, she is heading back to the States. We are sad to see Kim go, but look forward to working with the new director when he arrives.
Acting CD George Schutter (and the PC's Chief Financial Officer) took over yesterday and was already making the rounds to see volunteers. He visited with Usi and Hannah on Sunday and stopped in to see Cale and I today. Our Associate Peace Corps Director, Fata, and Training Manager, HP, accompanied him. He seems like a great guy and took a lot of interest in the computer lab at the school and the new language program the school has invested in (more on that to come.)
Our new director will be there in March. The new director is Dale Withington. Mr. Withington served as CD in the Marshall Islands from 1988-1991 and as CD and Administrative Officer in Kiribati from 1992-1995. He was also Special Assistant to the Regional Director in Washington, D.C. He served as a PCV in the Philippines from 1976-1981 where he worked with farmers to improve agricultural practices and promote conservation. He also assisted fish farmers with improving their aquaculture practices. Currently, Mr. Withington is the World Wildlife Fund’s South Pacific Program Representative responsible for the WWF’s operations in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands and Papau New Guinea. From 1995-1997 he worked with Conservation Melanesia in Papau New Guinea. He earned a Masters’ degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Journalism and Mass Communications and a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Hearts giddy with anticipation, we received our answer.
But - there was a catch - we had to buy a whole case of shoes. That's 24. That's a lot feet for just the two of us. But at a wonderful price. We decided to do it.
24 is more shoe than we came prepared to carry. We headed back to the home base in order to better plan our shoe run. While regrouping for the second attempt at shoe acquisition, the thought was put to us: "at that wonderful price, are you sure you aren't buying single shoes?"
They sell umm... shoe two ways here. By the umm.. pair, which is more foot-comfort per dollar, and also singly, for which you get half the foot-joy, and more packaging, and its especially inconvenient if there are two of you planning to umm... share the shoe.
Plus, at for the price, single shoes aren't nearly as impressive.
But so interested were we in trying this export shoe that we ignored our apprehensions.
When we returned to the shoe factory, we were delivered a crate of brand new, single, regular shoes.
"What about the export shoe?" we asked.
We had to go back and talk to the shoe seller lady.
"We thought we bought export shoe..."
"The export? We sell that in Pago pago."
"Do you sell it here?"
"We sell it in Pago pago....."
In our best not getting irritated but still irritated and hurried, slightly expectant English tones...
"But do you sell it here?"
"We sell it in Pago pago."
Uma. The conversation goes rapidly down hill.
A later blip in an otherwise unimpressive downward trend in conversation was this...
"How about if we want to buy the big .... ummm... pairs of shoes?"
"Oh. Yeah. We have 12 (pairs) for a dollar less."
We came home with 24 single ehhh.... shoes, single regular - non export - shoes, for what was a far less impressive price.
The shoes came in a nice plastic case.
We got a free ottoman.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Cale purchased an XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child people (www.laptop.org) during a "Get One, Give One" promotion. He paid for two of the laptops. One came to him and one went to a child somewhere in a participating country. Cale has laid claim to a specific child in Mongolia.
Hopefully, I can get him to do some posting on it soon. However, what I can tell:
1. Cale loves it
2. Playing with it sucks up all his time
3. He is not very good at managing a city (Sim City).
4. It is much tinier than I expected
At only $18 tala, this stylish messenger bag is a steal.
Available at practically any store in Apia (grocery/fabric store, pharmacy/tourist knick knack store, clothing/housewares store, appliance/liquor store), this durable plastic bag comes in a variety of colors and has many pockets for all your pocketing needs. The one drawback to the choice in "fabric" is the transfer of color to any items placed inside the bag.
Representatives at Puma were unavailable to comment on the company's decision to abandon their long-familiar, ferocious cat icon for the more comical badger seen on this bag here, but it adds a certain knock-off flair to the new line.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
v. Be finished, be done, be over.
adj. 1. All 2. Entire, complete 3. Whole of 4. Each every
adv. All, completely
Can you use it in a sentence?
Sara: "Your 'uma is different than my 'uma"
Cale: "'Uma is in the eye of the beholder."
'Uma is a very useful word to have in your back pocket. When class is over? It's 'uma. When the store is out of falaua maka ([fah-lah-ow-ah mah-kah] flour)? It's 'uma. When the kids sent to help clean the computer lab have swept all the dirt and trash into messy piles under the tables? They are 'uma and so are the piles. In that case, their 'uma and my 'uma were very different.
If I want everybody to be quiet, I want tagata 'uma. If I want something done every day, I want it done aso 'uma. And in the future, if I want all of the trash cleaned out of the computer lab and not just some of it, I want lapisi 'uma. Though, my students and I have different ideas of what is and isn't trash...so there could still be some more work done on communicating that.
Now, one would think that taking close to 36 students into a lab with only 12 computers was going to lead to chaos. However, one would be wrong. Though they are the biggest class I teach and the class with the least English proficiency, they were the best behaved in the lab so far. Usually when I take kids into the lab, the first thing they do when they get within arms reach of the computer is starting messing with stuff. They change the backgrounds, accidentally delete important operating system files, manage to rename the My Computer icon things like JKL and generally just mess things up.
I instructed the year 11.4 class that they were to sit at their assigned computers and not touch anything until told to. And they did. I instructed them to start and then play the typing game. And they did. I instructed them to make sure that everyone got a turn. And they did. They were also very well behaved and relatively quiet. It was amazing.
There was one computer with two girls doing the typing game. The way it works is these fish with words on them swim across the screen and you have to type the words before the fish attack your diving man. These girls had discovered that if they waited for the fish to show up, looked at the first couple of words and then hit the pause button, they could take their time in locating the keys on the keyboard. Then they could unpause and type the words very fast. This phenomenon quickly spread through the room and by the end of class they were all doing it. At first I was a pretty impressed with the students for coming up with this idea, but then it occurred to me: these kids are like 15 years old, I shouldn't be impressed, this is totally the sort of thing that a 15-year-old would figure out and do.
That clued me in to the fact that on some level I find myself assuming that if the kids don't understand what I am saying, they must not understand other things. But that is a failure on my part. A kid's English skills is in no way a reflection of that kid's intelligence.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I am officially a teacher. I have made lesson plans, administered pop quizzes and confiscated a cell phone. Boo-yeah.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Cale was in the middle of making some very delicious cheesy garlic bread — a prelude to our planned dinner of pizza — when the lights went out. That isn’t particularly unusual, as the power usually goes out once a week for a brief amount of time.
Electricity is a bit screwy here. I am frequently in the computer lab working on computers and the UPS are constantly beeping and clicking at me, letting me know the power as just gone out for a moment or that something unusual has happened.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, I was sitting in the dark eating cheesy bread.
This time the power stayed off for what turned out to be almost three hours. We didn’t let a little thing like lack of light keep us from eating. Cale donned a headlamp and finished making the pizza. I sat at the table, romantically lit by another headlamp, sipping beer.
After dinner we headed to the open field in front of my school to stare in wonder at all the stars visible in the pitch-black night. Well, more pitch-black than usual. We do live on a busy road, so there were car headlights to contend with. Surprisingly, there was also light pollution from the capital city in the distance. I never would have guessed that Apia gave off enough light to create any light pollution. I think the hazy fog in the air helped multiply what little light there was.
It was still impressive to look up and see all of those stars. And not just that there were so many starts, but that there were so many unfamiliar stars.
We went to sleep that night still powerless, but not much later the power was back on.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Each student and teacher was given a fundraising sheet to take around to friends and family. I have been dillegently trying to translate the form so I could retype it here in its entirety, but discovered that to be very difficult. As most Sāmoan words have many meanings and context is everything. Here is what I have come up with so far:
"We (just starting at this very moment OR starting in the past and continuing now [this verb tense means both]) are not healthy (?), we do not refuse, we do not shut a great deal the price of hiding our poverty and that we are not wealthy.
Also flow (or carry) the last receptecal (or ditch) since something (I cannot locate this word) can know and be shown the talent of the children's rugby.
We take advantage of worry and respect and honor......"
That is when I gave up.
Anyway, we are trying to raise some money and I thought I would reach out across the seas. Any dollar you pledge is worth $2.50 tala over here. If you are willing to help, please send me an email letting me know how much you would like to pledge. I will send you an address in the states you can send it to. Please do not send us a check, we cannot cash them here in Sāmoa.
Unfortunately, the deadline for these pledges is fast approaching, Friday, February 15. Sorry for the short notice.
Thank you for any help you are willing to provide. I am sure the kids at our schools will appreciate it as well.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
counterpart |ˈkountərˌpärt| |ˌkaʊn(t)ərˈpɑrt| |ˌkaʊntəpɑːt|
1 a person or thing holding a position or performing a function that corresponds to that of another person or thing in another place : the minister held talks with his French counterpart.