People take the Sabbath pretty seriously here in Am.Sam. The only acceptable activity on Sunday is going to church. Since orientation has been so intense, most of us opted to stay “home” instead. I’m really enjoying all the not-doing-stuff today.
We are living at Nu’uuli votech school right now. There are three “bedrooms”–two for the girls and one for the three boys. We also have a full kitchen and showers. The showers are kinda sketchy–basically it’s a large shower stall with pvc pipes sticking out of the wall and some shower curtains hanging from rope to separate the stalls–but we’re making it work (pics below).
Since we arrived we have had a super-duper jam-packed schedule. Wes & I haven’t really done any of the fun sight-seeing things there are to do on Tutuila (to-to-we-la); we only have a few weeks before we leave for Manu’a so we have been busy getting our bank account set-up, having clothes made, getting a cellphone, and other mundane things. I think next Saturday we’ll have a chance to go hiking and visit the waterfalls, but this week was just class, class, class, lunch, chores (fe’au), and more class.
So, you probably know that I was more terrified of orientation than I was of actually teaching alone in a classroom. It has been pretty intense but it’s been so helpful. I don’t think I knew just how unprepared I was until we started. We’ve done a lot of hands-on-y type stuff (like creating a diorama of a classroom) and group-work. Yesterday we taught our first lessons in our subject groups. My groups’ lesson was on multiplication (I know, right?) and it went okay. My part was rushed and not very clear, even though I knew exactly what I wanted to say. It was pretty eye-opening. Even though I’m tired and feel like we’re just go go go all the time, I know that I’m learning so much in orientation so it’s worth it. Plus, when we get out to Manu’a, we’ll pretty much only have one another (The Manu’a Seven!) so the more we can brainstorm with the Tutuila folks, the better.
Oh, and I still have jet-lag, so that’s ridiculous.
The sun rises around 6am and sets around 6pm. We have all been waking up pretty early (sometimes 4:30, sometimes as late as 6:30) Today, since we don’t have class until 1, I slept in til 7am. Every night I’m dead tired by about 9:30.
Yesterday we went on an island tour in an aiga (the family-owned buses). Tutuila is absolutely stunning. Sometimes I look out at the mountains jutting out impossibly, looming over everything, and am completely overwhelmed. This may sound strange but it’s almost frightening how perfect it is. It seems like a dream. And to think, Manu’a is supposed to be better. Inconceivable.
Our aiga tour went all over the island so the Tutuila volunteers were able to see where they’ll be living and teaching when orientation is over. We stopped for a little while at a wharf to see the boat two of us (Rosa & Julie) will be taking to get to their island (Aunu’u) and just admire the scenery. I swam in the Pacific for the first time so that was cool (wocka wocka wocka). The aiga overheated taking us up this crazy steep hill, so we got to get out and check out the views from a way-up high. We all had to surrender our water-bottles to help with the overheating situation and then we went on our merry way.
Here are a few (okay, a lot) photos from the tour and around our “home”:
Wes and I are sharing a cellphone. If you get a call from a 684 number, that’s us. This is how it works: all cellphones are pre-paid. You purchase the phone, get your number, and load points. There are two providers on the island, BlueSky and ASTCA. We are on ASTCA, so we can’t text people on BlueSky and calls to those phones are more expensive. We can call the mainland for something like 11 cents a minute, but it’s much cheaper for us to call one another. Only out-going calls use minutes. It should not cost you anything to call us (please check with your provider before testing this out!), so we may call you and ask you to call us right back; or, if we call you and hang-up you can just assume that means we want you to call us.
We really have a great group of people here. Of course, everyone has different personalities and quirks or whatever, but it seems like everyone is supportive of one another. Outside of the classroom I feel like we’re just 23 seriously gooftastic people, but when we’re in class you can tell that everyone here is genuinely interested in improving education in American Samoa and that we’re all here first for our students and then for the perks of island living.
There are a million other things I could write about (the bugs, the funny taboos, the incredibly welcoming culture, etc), but I’ve got to grab some food before class.
*Also, if anyone wants to mail me the following, please let me know in the comments!
- antiseptic insect wipes
- bottle brush
- boiled peanuts (yes I’m serious)