Monday, November 30, 2009

School, No School, and Cale and Sara

When it comes to showing up at school in Samoa, there are times when it’s clear I’m supposed to go to school, and there are days when there’s no school, but it seems like there are a whole lotta days when I’m not completely sure either way. Our staff meetings are held entirely in Samoan, and while my Samoan isn’t great, it’s not terrible, but an hour-long staff meeting is far too long for me to be able to follow very closely. I’m forced to glean information from other staff members, and often that information in contradictory.

I was told we had no school Friday, and admittedly, I didn’t look for someone to corroborate/contradict that information. As it turns out we did have school Friday. Oops. Last night I checked with my neighbor Maengi about whether we had school today. “Oh yes,” she said. So this morning I headed to campus, only to run into Maengi on the way over. “The pule’s not here, so you only to sign your name in the sign-in book, and then you can go home.” Awesome.

It’s a little frustrating keeping the day open because I could probably better structure my day if I knew I’d have hours and hours free, but oh well. I’ll take it. I headed back to my house and read my book. Max texted to invite me to lunch, and I accepted. A bunch of us ate at Mari’s, which has the distinction of offering the only “Mexican” food in the country. The food is mediocre at best, but they have satellite TV and we watched The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer over lunch.

Max came back with me afterwards to help me fix my server. We got it back up in working condition and re-installed Windows on one of the student computers and then cloned that one on the rest of the machines, so now my entire network is brand new.

The day culminated in Sara and Cale’s final dinner in Samoa. Max and I headed over to Italiano’s Pizza, the obligatory site of just every volunteer’s last meal in Samoa. And I gotta say, Cale and Sara can draw a crowd. Poor Max, who’s leaving the 4th of January was bummed because so many people will be gone for his departure. “There’s no way I’m getting this many people at my Goodbye Dinner,” he said. True, Max, because we’ll all be overseas.

I realize Cale and Sara’s departure has been covered in their own blog, so I’ll just say that it’s sad to see them go—we’ve gotten to be pretty good friends over the past year, and the Peace Corps will be lonelier without them—but at the same time, everything about the Peace Corps is so tentative and capricious, you learn to enjoy the time you have and then accept the changing of the seasons.

We had big shoes to fill when Group 77 left, and Group 82 has their work cut out for them now. And next year when we leave, Group 83 will take over for us. Good luck.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Pizza tonight. Benj and Ben eating in the foreground. Cale and Sara in the right of center in the background.

Cale takes advice from Ryan as he bucks the trend of writing on the walls of Italiano and instead signs the post outside, ironically writing, "It's tradition. You have to."

This spider was outside my shower last night. Man, you really freak me out.


Anonymous said...

Not to be too critical, but maybe if you spent some time trying to learn the language, like spending time with a family instead of meeting up with other volunteers so often, you'd have a better idea of what's going on and wouldn't be so surprised.

Barb Carusillo said...

It is an interesting comment that anonymous made, but I can see that you do try to absorb the culture as best you can, which is hard living in Apia, teaching computers (which has to be taught really in English, since that is the language of the tests etc). You go out to the village at least monthly, and you take your students on treks, and you go to mass and try to bond there. Hard to do much more. Don't blame you for wanting to get with volunteers, if it is available, most want to speak their own tongue, and touch base with the same mind set.
That said, it is still far easier for the folks stationed in villages on Savaii, or more remote to Apia to absorb the culture than the ones near the city, since they have more immersion.

Amanda said...

You're amazing for going to Samoa and doing what you're doing & being away from us!!! I'm really proud of you & your Samoan impressed me when I was there. And!!!! That's a huge spider!

Barb Carusillo said...

By the way, thanks for covering the good bye dinner in your blog. It is great to see pictures of it. They are now in California, your stomping grounds! We see them Friday!

Kagielu said...

Don't let "anonymous" get to you. I'm an RPCV who taught at Maluafou College for 2 years. Although I was actually pretty decent with the language, I learned very early on that being stationed in Apia makes it very, very difficult to become fluent. I knew volunteers who didn't speak a lick of Samoan who made far more of a positive influence in students' lives than many other, far more fluent PCVs.

Besides, you could become the Shakespeare of Samoan and I doubt that you would fully understand the inner workings of the Maluafou teachers meetings. I once woke up to teach my kids and was informed that school had been cancelled for leprosy screening. Leprosy. Things happen at MFC that don't happen anywhere else in the world . . .

Anonymous said...

Apian people are always snobish about people from Savaii and from the outbacks of Upolu. They used to make fun of us. See, Apia is where all the colonists rule, the Europeans came and settle there, so they expect all the Samoans to be slaves to them. My husband taught at Chanel College as a missionary from Monterey CA. but after 1 year he asked the Cardinal to tranfer to Savaii, because he didn't like the lifestyle in Apia. He wanted to be in an exotic place. Apia had all the easy lifestyle and he thought the kids there were very spoil, but he liked the area away from, like Lotofaga, Lefaga, the Faofaou beach you mentioned. You and all others that take time to do good for others are marrrrrrrrvelous.