MJ Live

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Day in the Village (Written Nov 7 2005)

And just like that…Week 5 of our training begins. It's hard to believe it has only been five weeks (its felt like 5 months at times). We have definitely come a long way in our language in that short amount of time – but we only have 4 more weeks before our "Language Exam". Time is flying, yet going so slow – welcome to the wonders known as village life. Well I thought I would use this time to tell you more about a typical school day for me in the village. The day starts at about 5 or 5:30am when the roosters start crowing outside my window or the baby starts crying – one of them is usually right on schedule. If you ever come visit, there's no need to bring an alarm clock it seems all Samoan roosters know to wake humans up at 5:30am here. I fight the urge to get up and go back to moe (sleep) until about 6:30am. I wake up, get from under my mosquito net (that surrounds my bed and keeps bugs off me at night) and get read for school. I, fortunately, have an indoor shower and toilet – so my family respects my privacy in that regard. Once done with showering and breakfast – its off to school at 8am. At the start of school we talk about things that happened the previous day and the schedule for the current day (check-in). At around 8:15am we go to our language class – which get switched today for my group. We had 4 people in my group but 1 person (John) got moved to another group and Diana got one-on-one tutoring with Onofeia. So at one point today it was just Bob and myself in a group – we're apparently the slow group of the bunch because the other groups have 6 and 5 people (Note: they split the groups based on learning styles, so only Bob and myself have similar learning styles and pace). So we have language until 10am when we break for tea. Now it usually switches between coffee and tea – I'm a fan of neither so I drink water from my water bottle. Unfortunately, at these tea breaks (they do it at Chanel too in place of 'lunch') they only serve hot drinks – so I may become a coffee or tea drinker once my time here is up. Can't thank the British enough for this brilliant idea! At 10:30am we have either another language class or a special topic (Life & Work, Safety and Security or Medical). Then at 12pm we break for lunch. And you know one of the best things about being in the village – you don't have to search for food or pay for it. You just go home, sit down and it comes out to you. Now Bryan and I follow a golden rule for any food given to us here – if its cold and you either don't know what it is or it should be warm don't eat it. Experimentation is good but don't do it when you're an hour away from a major city. At 1:30pm we go back to school for another language class (usually held in a FaleSamoa) and at 3pm break for yet more tea. At 3:30pm  we start work on our TDA (Trainee Directed Activity) which for this week we have to create a map of Falevao and where important items within it are located. We can basically work on our TDAs until we're ready to go home. School officially ends at 4:30pm but we stay to hang out with each other and work on homework while we have the trainers there to help us out. We have optional tutoring from 5-6pm but at 6pm we all have to head home. There are two curfews in this village – one at 6:30pm and the other at 10:30pm. The 6:30pm curfew is for lotu (prayer) where the family gathers around and sings a few hymns before reading a passage out of the Samoan bible. The 10:30pm curfew tells when everyone should be at home (adults and kids alike). You're allowed to walk around 20-30 mins after the 6:30 curfew but you have to stay at home once the 10:30 curfew hits. If you're caught walking around while the curfews are in effect then you have to pay a fine which could be money or food depending on what the Matai's say. So during lotu I read bits of the Samoan bible and it has helped with my enunciation of Samoan words. Once lotu is done, it is dinner time – Samoan style. That means you'll be full or just run out of warm things to eat. After dinner, I hang out and play my brothers (uso) until about 9 (the New Zealand news comes on at 8 and it usually has US news in it) and then head to my room to read, write, pray and sleep. Now add some massive heat to that description and you've got one of my typical days in the village. Quite a full day I must say.

Now onto updates, once daylight savings time ended Samoa and America got an hour closer – which means the time difference is like this now: 3-Pacific/4-Mountain/5-Central/6-Eastern. I feel closer to you all now then I did when I arrived here – must be the time change. J Hope this was informative for you – it reminded me we squeeze a lot of stuff into just a few hours and the influence of the British is wide here.

Finally, to further demonstrate families here don't have a good understanding of Western culture I sat in a room and watched a 50 cent video where they said the 'N' word with my 11 and 5 year old brothers. They are literally growing up watching this stuff. Crazy.

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