Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mini-Field Trip

In 2005 my school had two Peace Corps Volunteers (one teaching computers) and the same principal that came back at the end of last year. In 2005 the previous volunteer and some of the other computer teachers produced a school magazine (which is what they call a yearbook here). The returned principal wants to do it again this year and has put me in charge. 

Strangely, someone is actually asking me to do something I am trained to do. 

However, rather than simply put the magazine together myself, I decided that we would have a magazine staff and the students would do all the work. I have a collection of editors (Editor-in-Chief, School Work, Student Life, Sports, Photography, Design, Etc.) and so far we have had three meetings. The first meeting was to introduce them to the concept of the magazine and get volunteers for the editor positions. The second meeting was to talk to the editors and give them assignments to work on (Sports Editor, go find out the record for the sports teams. Student Life Editor, decide what it is you are going to put in your section). 

The third meeting was headed by the Editor-in-Chief and I mostly had no idea what was going on, because they held the meeting in Samoan. But good on them, why should they have the meeting in English for my benefit? I just pretended that I knew what was being said and interjected thoughts when I could infer enough to guess the topic of conversation. I made the EIC write me up a report on the meeting later.

Monday after school the Business Editor called the Methodist Printing Press to schedule a meeting to talk about the cost of printing the magazine. She was supposed to ask for a meeting after school, preferably on Thursday, but definitely not on Tuesday. When she hung up the phone, she told me the meeting was for tomorrow morning.

"But we have school tomorrow morning," I pointed out.

"They said it was the only time they were available," she replied.

Ok, granted, but it was a really short conversation and I have a hard time believing that she did any negotiating on this meeting time or mentioned that she was a student and was unavailable weekday mornings. I think it is cultural for a student to simply accept what an adult says and not question it or she could have been nervous or not thought about it at all.

Anyway, we go over to look at the timetable and see that her first period class will be cancelled tomorrow because the teacher is away at the Methodist Women's Conference. We will make our field trip in the morning. Now I have to get the principal's permission. When it was going to be after school, it wasn't a big deal, but now I have to take a student out of school.

Luckily, Tuesday morning, the principal was agreeable to the idea and reiterated to me that he wants to try to print at least 700 copies of the magazine (one for each student) and he wants it to have more pages than the one in 2005 (which had 52 pages) because we have so many good photographs this year.

So Tuesday, my Business Editor and the Assistant Business Editor hopped on a bus and went into town. At the Methodist Printing Press the editor did an excellent job. We talked the day before about what information she needed to gather and I could tell that she was gathering it. The problem was the printing press guy was saying, you give us your magazine on a flash and we will tell you how much to print it. What I wanted to know was an estimate on printing costs now, the magazine isn't going to be completed for several months. We had with us the 2005 magazine. So I stepped in and insisted that he give us an estimate assuming we were going to print the exact same magazine again.

After some discussion in the back room, he came back with about $26 per magazine. If we print 700 copies, that is just over $18,000. I could see my students eyes getting bigger as they did the math on a calculator quickly. The senior students had agreed to raise $50 each for this project. We have 53 seniors, so they were looking at a budget of almost $2,700. Not quite $18,000. 

This is where I think Samoan culture will take over a little. The guy at the printing press kept our copy of last year's magazine to give to the manager. The manager is supposed to come out to our school to talk to the principal about possible "discounts" and what not. Seeing as they are both Methodist ministers and know each other. I think that something will be worked out. However, whatever is worked out, it is not going to bring the cost of printing down to $2,700. Even if we sell ads in the magazine, as planned, we are still going to have to come up with an alternative revenue stream.

This is something I will have to discuss with the students in our meeting today. That and deadlines. Definitely deadlines. What they are. How we might want to think about setting some. How if there is a deadline, you might want to meet it. Like that.

— Sara

1 comment:

Barb Carusillo said...

Wow, this will be quite the job, but quite the accomplishment when it comes to pass. Do they have all those fundraising enterprizes over there like we have here...like getting a bunch of kids together to make a pile of pizzas that people have ordered, or like those carved woooden crosses you had to sell, remember Sara?