The first term of the school year began on Monday, so the endgame is upon us! No, but seriously there was a different feeling to the start of this school year compared to last year. I felt a lot more settled and comfortable in my own skin – it wasn't this great unknown where I was totally clueless as to what was happening and what would happen in the near future. Such as the fact that it will probably be another week before I'm able to officially hold any classes so in the mean time I just have to get all the paperwork ( i.e. textbooks and syllabi) in order for my students. Another great thing about starting my second year here is that a lot of the students know me and I know them – so it's not an overwhelming feeling of 300 something kids knowing your name and you don't have a clue who any of them are. It was especially nice when I got to say hi to my former Year 12, now Year 13 students (even had some Year 13 students from last year return which should definitely help when it comes to managing the class). So on the first official day of school we had a teachers meeting to say hi to the 3 new teachers we have for this year (2 are Catholic sisters and 1 is a university student who will only be with us for about a month). Unfortunately we lost a teacher due to family issues, but for the most part we have only added and not done much subtracting which is definitely a plus and helps with my feeling of continuity. After the teachers meeting, we had the first assembly of the year where Kevin talked to the students about what happened over the holiday and how the first few days of school were going to be like. After that, the kids went to their temporary classes and I had the rest of the day to myself. To just hang around and do nothing you say? Nope – if I'm in the lab, I'm working (which is why I try to avoid it on the weekends) so I was finishing up formatting the hard drives on the computers for the internet room and creating the new syllabus for Year 12 and 13 (since both their programs are finally settled; Year 13 had a revision in their prescription this year – only one outside moderated practical task! Yay!) and generally just being Superman when it comes to keeping the rest of the computers running (they're doing well so far, but it's only the beginning of the year).
Now at this point I must tell you that for the last few days, it has just been pouring like crazy lately. It basically started about late Saturday evening and just continued until early on Tuesday morning. There was a tropical depression in the area that was kind of headed Samoa's way and was dropping a lot of rain on the island (although not as bad as last week where it rained for a week straight). The depression got so bad that Peace Corps told us to go to the standfast phase which basically means get your gear in order because the next call could be to convene in one location. I've been blessed so far in that there has been no cyclone or need to consolidate the volunteers here. Let's go for 2 years straight of no consolidation! So on Tuesday, I pretty much did the same thing at school except we actually ran a few computer classes (I didn't, but teachers who were teaching computers last year ran classes) but without know who is teaching which classes and what the classes actually are, it's kind of hard for me to get everything organized. Last year, I would have been running up the walls at this point out of frustration – this year, I know everything will work itself out and before the middle of February we'll start rolling with regular classes. It's good to be part of the senior group now!
Fortunately, sometime in the afternoon the depression passed by us and Peace Corps said it was alright for us to leave our sites. This was a good thing because basically I hadn't actually been into town proper since I arrived back on Friday. So after school I ran into town to pay some bills and then headed to the Peace Corps office – and I guess it was when I walked into the place that it actually felt like I only had a year left. I don't really know how to describe it but it was just kind of this weird feeling that came over me that just made me kind of say 'I've only got 10 months left'. And I know what you're probably thinking, "Oh, that's because he's fed up with the Peace Corps or the Volunteers" and that's not it at all. I guess with me going to NZ and coming back, there was an actual break between my two terms and thus a clearly defined midpoint. I felt recharged and the things that might have bothered me before didn't bother me. I guess the best analogy would be like coming back to school after your first summer break of college – things just feel a little bit different. I guess that's just part of the Re-up, getting myself prepared for this last round of serving Samoa. I've got a lot to do and my first order of business will be….to take another holiday. This weekend is our mid service conference (a bit late, but whatever) and it will be taking place at a resort on Savaii which means more travel for me…oh fun! I really wish I could order that boat I took from the North Island to the South Island because with the weather being as funny as it is right now, I'm not looking forward to rocking on that ferry. But the conference will be fun because it will be the first time this year that we're all together (or almost all together) this year. We leave on Friday and it's only Tuesday…darn you Wednesday and Thursday! L8r.