Well, I’m online. For a minute at least. I had this long blog post prepared with all these great photos of our house and our village but I wrote it in Word at home and the Mac at school won’t open it no matter what I try. So I’ve attached the few photos I had on my flash drive. Enjoy!
School started on August 8th. It has been pretty wonderful so far. I have 6 students–3 boys and 3 girls–and they are all well-behaved and adorable. Their names are also really easy to pronounce so that’s a bonus, too, haha. Most of my students speak English pretty well but one barely speaks it at all.
Based on the loads and loads of pre-assessment that I’ve done in the past week, I’d say that only one of my students is at level, and she would probably be a C/B average student in the States. Here, she’s my little genius. Some of my kids (remember, this is 2nd grade) can’t count to 30. They read well (even the one who doesn’t speak English) but they lack comprehension skills. We can read a sentence like “Sally looked at a rock,” and they will not be able to answer questions as simple as “Who looked at a rock?” or “What did Sally look at?” But we are working on it. I’ve already seen improvement in some areas, which is super exciting. The class size is small enough that I will be able to continue giving them individual attention and also to create lesson plans for each level, so that’s awesomesauce.
My kids have been well-behaved since day one! They listen to me and do exactly what I ask them to do. But just in case, I have a “quiet chair” in my room that scares them to death. I am waiting for the day that one of them realizes it’s not much of a punishment at all, but right now just the threat of going “to the chair” gets them to stop whatever they are doing. I sent one boy to the chair today and he burst into tears. (It was really hard to make him sit there while he was weeping, but I did it! Mean Mrs. Cathryn!)
We’ve met a lot of great people in our village. Faleasao is super small. My house is on the other side of the village and it only takes me about 2 minutes to walk to school. So, it’s easy to get to know your neighbors. There’s a store owner here from California (Lionel) who is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s young (24) and has lived here and in the States so he is easy to relate to but also helps us out a lot (translating and teaching us about different things). The other night he went spear fishing and brought us a bunch of fish. He also brought another guy, Tino, to prepare the fish for us at our house. It was so good! It’s called Oka (raw fish), and Tino just cleaned the fish, mixed it up with mayo, soy sauce, tabasco and onion. Delicious.
Our landlord, Tautua, and his wife Trish (who is Wes’ principal) have also been really welcoming. We attended morning and evening church on Sunday and went to their house in-between for brunch (I can’t remember the Samoan word). We had Alaskan salmon and crab, breadfruit and bananas that were prepared in the umu, coleslaw, sausage, chicken soup, and something I’m forgetting I’m sure. When you are served at a Samoan meal, you get a ton of food. I mean, you will see the tray coming and assume that it’s for the whole table. It’s not.
On Saturday we hiked down to two little coves past our house. It’s so strange to stand knee-deep in the Pacific, on a spot of beach that so few people alive in the world today have seen. This place is like a dream. I feel so blessed and so thankful that we are here.
P.S. Susan, I tried to call you back but it just kept ringing and ringing. I hope to talk to you soon! We miss you both!