Saturday, October 3, 2009

72: Tsunami (Back to School Part II)

I was back at school again today. In an afternoon meeting between the Methodist school pules and the director of the school board it was decided that the final exams would be pushed back to 13 October, after the White Sunday holiday. This is good for the kids as their revisions were cut short and no one feels like studying now anyway. However, the announcement wasn't made until after the students had been sent home for the day. Seeing as how it is Friday, I am not sure how they are supposed to know they don't have final exams when the arrive at school on Monday. If there is one thing I have learned though is that I never know what is going on and my students always do, so I am sure they will be fine.

The sister of the student that died in the evacuation is in my computer class. I did not know this. She was in class today and I could tell that something was wrong. She found the "In Loving Memory" poster I had made yesterday on the shared drive and that made her cry. I saw that she had opened the magazine layout on the computer. She is the one that has been doing all the design work. I sat down to explain to her why so much work had been done without her (I had been working on the pages as we are fast approaching the time when it must be published). I still didn't know at this point it was her sister. I mentioned to her that I know that she has a lot on her mind now, it is a hard time for everyone and that she shouldn't feel pressured to work on the magazine. That was when she mentioned she has been very busy with her sister's funeral. I realized it was her sister who had passed away. Here I was having class, quizzing her for revisions for the exam and the poor girl is still in mourning for her baby sister who died on Tuesday. I was shocked she was in school today.

She asked me if I was the one that made the "In Loving Memory" poster and I said yes. She asked if I could add her picture on one side and her other sister's picture on the other. I did that, we printed it out on the color printer (she asked me how much the printing would be, obviously, I told her it was free) and she took it with her at noon when she left for the family service for her sister. The public service will be Sunday. I will join the other teachers from my school and a student choir who will be attending the funeral.

I am not a very emotional person. I have never been good at knowing how to empathize properly. I empathize, I just don't know how to show it. I know that there needs to be hugging and comforting, but I am so awkward with it. I usually debate the appropriateness of my comfort options in my head until the appropriate time has passed and I am left standing awkwardly looking uncaring. With my student, I once again didn't know how to act. I sat next to her, I told her how sorry I was, I told her that if she needed to talk or had anything she could come to me, but I couldn't sort out of I should hug her. In the end I went against hugging. Some people are natural huggers and I am not one of them.

After school I stayed for about hour calling businesses on the list of possible sponsors for the school magazine. We delivered letters asking them to donate to or advertise in the magazine two weeks ago. Now here I am calling them days after the worst disaster in recent history asking if they want to support a school magazine. Surprisingly few people pointed out to me that they had other things to worry about and better things to donate to right now. Most of them asked me to call back to talk to another person or said that they never received the letter, can I send a new one. We have two official advertisements that have raised us a total of $1,000 tala and one most likely advertisement after I deliver a new letter to them.

Tomorrow Cale and I are heading out to the south side on our information and people finding mission. We are hiring out our favorite taxi driver for the entire day to drive us around. Benj and his girlfriend are joining us. We might also bring Red Cross supplies with us, we are to check in with them in the morning. We have a list of about 20 people looking for friends, family or simply news on a particular village. We will see what we can do. I also talked to Joey B and he said a Red Cross logistics person in charge of Family Links (or something like that) has arrived from overseas and will probably be setting up some way for people to get a list of survivors and to where they were displaced. I will let you know what I know when I know.

— Sara

4 comments:

Manda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheri said...

Sara,
I think you did a great job letting your student know in words that you are indeed empathetic about her sister's passing.

annette said...

it is obvious you are a caring person, sara. we all have our ways of showing it. you are handling things in a very compasionate and thoughtful way...i appreciate who you are and am sure the samoan people do too.
i cry over everything, and i mean everything...gets in the way sometimes, could use a little of your skill at keeping emotions in check sometimes : )

Barb Carusillo said...

Sara...sounds like you are sharing your gifts quite well over there...helping folks find the loved ones they are so concerned about, helping to make a poster to commemorate the love of 3 sisters beyond death, helping to create a yearbook that those kids will treasure forever. Sounds like a lot of folks are finding their heroic selves over there right now.
Bless you all.