To our immense relief, shortly after arriving on Tutuila last Friday night, we were informed that the first week of school had been delayed one week because several schools had failed health inspection.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited a school bathroom or cafeteria in American Samoa. When I was at the elementary school there was one working toilet for all the female teachers and students, and it was often overflowing with some disgusting brown mixture with an entire roll of toilet-paper floating in the center. When a work-crew came to repair our school, they got as far as the teacher bathrooms (not the students’) and decided to stop there, I guess? The one ladies’ toilet was promptly replaced and, within a week or two, even more promptly destroyed by hilarious 6-year old pranksters who thought filling the toilet and sink with rocks was just the cleverest thing in the world.
The cafeteria? Well… maybe I’ll just tell you that last year one of the WorldTeacher volunteers found bugs in her sealed one-serving cereal. And then, there was that incident involving roach larvae in our breakfast bread last year.
What’s surprising is that the schools were closed for repairs at all. This is not something that happened suddenly over the summer. Who knows who is at fault–I’m not trying to point fingers–but these are issues that have plagued the schools for years. It’s nice to see that the new government is doing something about it, but the week before school is supposed to start is probably a little late to be doing inspection. Hopefully the health inspections will be ongoing through the school years and the students of American Samoa will continue to have access to clean, sanitary facilities (and not just for the next semester).
At any rate, that additional week has been a huge blessing for us! Instead of having just one day to prepare for the new school year, we’ve had a whole week! I’ve had time to set-up my classroom, write syllabi and week-by-week unit plans for the entire year, organize all of my classroom books by Lexile level, and other such awesome things. So, all those failed health inspections have translated to extra time for teachers to make their classrooms purty. Just sayin’…sounds like a causality to me.
Here are some photos of my new classroom. I have so much furniture this year!
I am super excited to be teaching freshman and sophomore mainstream literature, junior and senior proficient (higher level) lit, and journalism first semester (journalism will change to speech and drama next semester). When creating my year-long units I noticed that the readings I assign deal mainly with African American identity politics and the African diaspora so I decided to pan-African-ize my class a little bit. The few students who’ve wandered up to campus have expressed some delight at how “Bob Marley” my class is.
We are right back on schedule — getting up at 6am and going to bed around 8:30pm. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do much shopping in Tutuila so lunch and dinner have been pretty skimpy. We sent several packages from Georgia that are already in Tutuila so they may arrive in record time (one week!). We’ll see.
This was on my lock-screen the other day (from the Verse of the Day app in the Windows Store). I thought I should keep this to remind myself what I’m here to do. Sometimes in the course of the daily it is so easy to forget the goal, which is simply this: Serve. Serve. Serve.