The kids are back!
After 3 months and weeks of waiting, the school year has finally arrived! As most schools in the states are starting their second term we are just getting underway with our first. So on Monday, most of the teachers came in for a quick update to not only see who would show up but to also get a feel for what the teachers wanted to teach. I of course wanted to teach computers – so I’m an easy person to satisfy. J This was the first time since I’ve been here that a lot of people have been at the school and it definitely felt livelier – having all the personalities that will be a part of my life for two years definitely brought some new energy to the place. Unfortunately, I still don’t know how my classes are going to look right now – I don’t even know if I have computer teacher assistants (some teachers are still on vacation) so there’s a lot of ‘I don’t know’ feeling floating around here – at least for me. On the first day the teachers did a little barbequing Samoan style i.e. the umu. Two teachers (Matavai and Iosefo) made an umu and cooked up some famoe (chicken) and breadfruit and I have to say it’s was the best umu I’ve ever had in Apia! I literally had to stop myself from eating because it tasted so good. The more important perk was that it gave me a chance to hang out with the teachers and get a feel for their personalities and how everyone works together. Also, I don’t have to worry about my Samoan becoming rusty because the teachers speak in Samoan a lot (even though the classes are suppose to be taught in English and whenever Father Kevin is around, he prefers the teachers to talk to the students in English) so they have made it their task to get me speaking more Samoan – guess my language vacation is over now.
On Tuesday, the kids finally arrived and it was definitely a sight to see all these kids arrive in white shirts and blue lavalava’s (the school uniform) in basically my front yard. I still had no idea how classes were going to work so I again just went with the flow. We had a staff meeting to determine what the kids are going to do for the rest of the week and then had an assembly (which is a meeting with the students in the FaleSamoa i.e. my front porch) where we talked about an ailing teacher, introduced new staff members and talked about the death of the only Cardinal in the South Pacific who was not only a Samoan but also a Marist priest. The school has been asked to sing at his funeral precession on Friday so after the assembly the kids had singing practice and I went to hang out with the teachers. After the kids were done, a roll was taken to see who was at school and who wasn’t (a lot of kids were missing) and after that – school was done. All the together the official school day ran from 8am to about 11am and then the teachers had another barbeque. So it was a pretty relaxing day and now that the kids have arrived and will start the process of ‘picking’ their classes I may finally get an idea of how many kids will be in my program and whether I get help or not. If you’re not familiar with the British/New Zealand system for secondary education, there are five years of schooling available here – Year 9, 10,11,12 and 13. Within those years are different streams of kids (9.1,9.2,9.3, 10.1, etc) and while it’s possible that I won’t have to have classes for all the streams it is possible that I will have classes with all the years and that’s a lot of classes (because Year 13 gets 2 classes and Year 12 gets either 2 or 3 classes) so we’ll see what happens. I’m not stressing out because of my knowledge from the village – everything in Samoa runs on its own time and the other two teachers who are new (Mika and Dennis) aren’t too worried even though they don’t know exactly what they are teaching yet – so why should I be? The next few days are probably going to be as uneventful as today was but Friday should definitely be something to write about – see ya then. L8r.