MJ Live

Friday, November 18, 2005

Progress Report (Written Nov 10 2005)

It's hard to believe I am almost at the end of being in Samoa for five weeks – while I have not changed a lot, I have definitely experience a lot. One of the things that has changed for me is my understanding of the Samoan language. While I am not great or good at it by any means, I'm definitely better then I was 5 weeks ago (although I still have trouble with the 'g'). And that brings me to something I haven't really explained yet – our language classes. During the first week in Samoa we were all split up into random groups which for me was disastrous because I was paired with people who had a different learning style from myself and it only led to frustration as they grasped things at a quicker pace then myself. Now we are split up based on learning styles and it works much better. One group has the learning style of learning by sentence construction, another group learns based on the rules of the Samoan language and then there's my group that learns by seeing/hearing the word and learning the vocabulary rather then sentence creation. While there are only two people in my class (Bob and myself) we compliment each other well and we pretty much have the same pace of learning which leads to fewer frustrating moments. Something must be working because the trainers have told me they have noticed a major difference between how I was 5 weeks ago and where I am right now (I can understand some basic terms and create simple Samoan sentences). While I may be a slower learner then most of the other people in this group, its reassuring knowing that someone is noticing that I'm doing my best instead of comparing me to the other trainees.

I also got more good news – but it was more an update on what I did during my OJT (On the Job Training). One of the PC staff members came by today and while she was there she told Fale (our lead trainer) about what her kids said about me during my OJT at St. Joseph. Apparently, her kids liked my teaching approach and style from the hour I had with them. According to them I was 'sekia' which is like Samoan slang for great/ok and she said her kids were really excited to have me as a teacher there next year. Only problem is I'm going to Chanel – whether the kids at St. Joe know that or not is a mystery to me. But it did make me feel more comfortable about my teaching style in front of Samoan kids. What is my style you ask? Right now its asking students questions, answering them with a smile and a laugh and listening dutifully to their answers. Apparently it works if I made that good an impression on the kids in such a short amount of time. I think I  had the same impact on the Chanel kids because when I said I wouldn't be back until January they seemed shocked. While I know part of this is the "newness" factor of me – at least I go in with something in my favor.

A report on my health – physically I'm back at 100% after that upset stomach yesterday. Mentally, I'm doing well – just counting down the days until we're done with PST and I can start really living my Samoan life – I have like a month vacation before school starts and I can't wait. BTW, I had these amazing potato chips (from real potatoes) that were flat and circular and I was quite impressed. It's the first food I've had in the village where they had to give me a second serving – it tasted like something I would have at home – it was a very nice surprise for me and my tastebuds. That's it, that's all. Manua le aso (Have a nice day!)

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