After spring break in high school, the swim team would come back to the pool, and for the first lap or 2, the water would feel so nice and easy. It didn’t start to feel challenging until 4 or 5 laps into the swim. And then the body would start to scream. I get the feeling the same things going on with yesterday and today. My body’s not screaming, but today the water wasn’t so smooth and easy.
Part of the increased frustration with today was I had a couple of batches of kids who spoke very little English, and standing in front of a group of non-English speakers trying to explain computer input and output devices in English feels a little foolish. I’m not saying it’s foolish to teach Samoan students computers, I’m just saying it’s difficult for me to explain the ins and outs of USB cables in Samoan.
It’s a little like college where it seemed like the more fundamental classes were always taught by a non-native English speaker. It seems like the basics are best taught in the student’s native language. And I’m not just saying this because the other computer teacher, who has yet to show up for work, was supposed to teach the lower level classes. It is overwhelming to have his classes, yes; but he could communicate to those classes so much better than I can. Although, I suppose even if he was teaching his share, the computer lab would still be loaded to the brim.
Peace Corps Samoa set out on a goal somewhere around 7 or 8 years ago for approximately 90 volunteers to teach 25,000 Samoan secondary students in some capacity. This leads to a volunteer-to-student ratio of approximately 1:278; that is, during my tenure in Samoa, I would need to work with 278 students. Many schools in Samoa are relatively small, and without double-counting the students that a particular teacher has 2 years in a row, some volunteers come in far under 278.
And then there are those of us that bring up the average.
My principal has mandated that all students in years 9, 10, and 11 should have a computer class at least once a week. It doesn’t really seem like that many when you pencil in 4 classes per week for each grade level (8 classes for year 11—they come twice a week). But when they show up, it becomes alarmingly obvious that their class sizes are huge. There are 50 students in each year 9 class. Multiply that by 12 to include years 10 and 11 and throw in the year 12 and 13 kids and I have 600 students coming through my computer lab each week.
And there are only 11 student computers right now. There should be 13, but Max and I worked together to strip one of its operating system, and another needs a new video card.
600 students ÷ 11 computers = 55 students/computer = Yikes
In any case, after school today I headed over to the market to see about purchasing taro, and I ended up eating crow. See, it turns out my host family was at the market today… SELLING TARO. And $20 WST is the elastic price. Asolima explained it to me: Some vendors have to bus back to the village, and the last bus leaves every day around 4:30 p.m. If they still have goods left to sell, they’re the ones who slash prices. I feel like a jerk for yesterday’s sentiments. I guess I need to go back to the village for some cross-cultural training. A bit ironic that Fausaga was there at the market to teach me a lesson.
In the end, I bought taro from my host family. It was really fun to see them, and they provided a welcome pick-me-up after today’s classes.
Finally, I went to the internet café yesterday to use the broadband to download a bunch of podcasts. And while I was there, I figured, why not upgrade iTunes? It’s been begging to be upgraded, and I was thinking that upgrading just might help my download speed.
When it upgraded itself, it got stuck and only half installed the QuickTime upgrade. iTunes refuses to load if QuickTime isn’t working. So I couldn’t listen to the podcasts I had downloaded because I couldn’t play them in iTunes AND I had to go back to the internet café today to download a new version of iTunes so I can reinstall it. Ugh.
I hope things are well with you. A couple pics below.
Oh yeah. Someone Skyped me twice this morning during class. Was that you? I'm available every day between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. Samoa Time.
One of my classes. Not sure if you can tell from this picture, but the girl in the bottom right looks so much like Amanda. Not from the front. Only from the side. So much. It's creepy.
This truck is owned by one of the teachers at our school. She's fun. Eccentric.
Asolima, Mele (Phil's cousin's wife, not my host mom), and Phil's sister, Tafale.
2 months ago