Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Term 2

We finally conquered the school break that refused to end. Technically school started last Monday, and seven weekdays later I have yet to teach a single period of class. All the same, today did feel more official, and my pule announced we would hold regular classes tomorrow. So it’s clear we’re building to something. Also, before we all left for the day, we met with our intramural houses to getting ready for athletics (i.e. track and field). Priorities are in order.

I’ve been keeping a highly visible low profile, hanging out in the secretary’s office compiling grades. Over the last 4 weeks I’ve received a steady trickle of marks—by the time I left for Hawai’i I already had a sizable stack—and I’ve been able to keep up pretty well. At this point, when a teacher hands me a stack of grade sheets I can input it into the computer and a have a report ready to go in a matter of minutes. About 90% of grades have been submitted at this point, so when a form teacher (i.e. homeroom teacher) asks for the results for his/her class, I can give them something.

The only factor slowing the process is the small group of teachers who are lagging in submitting marks. Fortunately most staff seem to recognize I have no control over these procrastinators. I admit I’ve been all too willing to point fingers and name names; it’s win-win for me. The impatient teachers are happy to have someone to blame, and I don’t have to go hunting for missing marks because the impatient teachers take matters into their own hands.

Even with all this madness it felt good to be back in the swing of things. Though we had an official day of school last week, it was tentative and attendance was poor. Nearly all the familiar faces were back, staff and students alike. There were all the normal conversations about “how was your break” and “it’s so cold in New Zealand” and “O fea lou teine?”

It’s strange how pervasive the Peace Corps is here. After school as I was walking back across campus toward my house, one of the year 11s ran up to me. “Matthew, do you know Jim?” Jim 80 lives with a host family on Savai’i. I nodded to the girl. “He’s my brother!” she smiled.

I guess the first day of school is always like this. It’s a dark spot on the calendar, and I’ve dreaded it as a student and as a teacher now, but once you get there it feels kinda good. It’s like bringing the old gang back together. Don’t get me wrong—I loathe teaching—but with Jim’s sister smiling warmly and the impatient teachers chasing the slacker teachers, today was a pretty easy day.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Today they started painting the track onto the big field in front of my school. Step 1: Hammer a makeshift post into the ground. Don't have a hammer? Use a rock.

Step 2: Wait for the guy at the far end of the field (the very tiny guy wearing light blue standing at the back of the group sitting on the ground in the distance) to hammer his post into the ground.

Step 3: Paint along the rope that connects the two posts. Don't have a paintbrush? Use a coconut husk.

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