MJ Live

Friday, August 11, 2006

It’s Been One Week… (Written 8/11/06)

This has been an eventful week for me personally and for the school – nothing like super major happened, just a lot of interesting bits here and there. Personally, last Sunday I biked from Apia to my house for the 30th time (which was a goal I set for myself back in December) – it took 8 months to get it done, but trust me back in December it looked like that goal was a year away from happening. I guess Mount Doom is building me up a bit – now as long as no short people with rings come up here, I'll be fine and continue my count of completed bike trips. Who knows, maybe by the time I leave here I can get up to 90 (or 100?) completed bike trips. Then I'll be able to tackle any hill in Tennessee!

On Monday night, I got the last 11 computers installed in the third computer lab and we now have all 3 labs running with enough computers in each lab to prevent to much of an overflow (like 25 kids in a lab with 20 computers). Now this was a huge professional goal that I thought would not be completed this year – but we've been amazingly blessed and I have to consider my first year a success. Again, back in December it seemed like an insurmountable task to get 40+ computers here but it's happened and now it's time to get them all connected together. The next step is to get some Ethernet cable that's long enough to reach the third lab and then we'll have all 66 computers networked together. But you say 'Marques, now that you've set up the labs – what are you going to do?' I'm going to Disneyland! No – that's Holly. Once the computer labs are completed, I begin work on installing computers in the library and for the teachers. I may even become brave and decide to install Win XP on all the computers over the break (just for the ability to keep students from messing with the desktop). I had to shift around a few of the classes on Tuesday and you noticed a definite difference when the huge classes were placed in the room with 26 computers – no more scrunching together, sharing computers – each kid with their own space. Brought a tear to my eye….not really, but almost.

For the school, a big event occurred when one of our Year 12 students, Paulo Papalii, came in first place at a Samoan speaking competition. He got a certificate, an English dictionary (which is like $70 tala here, so it's a big deal) and some other stuff. This was a big deal simply because Chanel doesn't exactly wipe the floor against other schools very often so when one of our kids does well at something they are lavished with praise. I was especially impressed because it was academic related – which is what will really help him in the future, not playing rugby. Had that been all it would have been nice, but what made his win even more special is that the Samoa Observer came and did a little interview with him and they used my picture in the paper (at least I think they did, I haven't seen the paper yet). So now I'm a photojournalist as well as computer guru!

And today we had a farewell ava ceremony for two Australian Business volunteers who have been working at Chanel since June, Pat and Liz Farrar. Pat has been working with the English department and library on two reading programs. One is called "Drop Everything And Read" and the other is a Peer reading program where Year 13 students help Year 9 students improve their reading/English skills. Liz was working with the Samoa AIDS foundation, so they've both been very busy over the past few months. Since today was their last day at school, the school held an ava ceremony for them (I think this was my first farewell ava ceremony) and then some of the classes presented them with gifts afterwards. Overall it was a festive occasion and the kids sounded like they were really going to miss them. Since they're traveling towards Tomorrow (to Australia – a day ahead of Samoa) they get to leave here at around 11am tomorrow, which is quite different for when I'll be leaving to go back to the States (the US flight leaves in the middle of the night).

Like I said, it's been an eventful week just from the stand point that a lot of little unique things happened – but my favorite part of this week is the fact that today's Friday and it's a three day weekend! Sunday is Father's Day here and amazingly enough I'll be talking to my dad on Samoa's Father's Day, talk about perfect timing. This is also the first weekend in a while where I'll be able to just relax and enjoy it – what a great week! L8r.

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