MJ Live

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Runny Day (Written 8/7/07)

Today was one of those days where it seemed I fit a lot of things into a short amount of time. As always on a weekday, things started at school where I really only had to teach about three classes for the day. One of the classes that I taught was the year 13 computer class which I handed off to another teacher to teach because I was taking care of the Year 12 students in the same class time. This was important for me because their teacher has not been showing up for the past couple of days and as usual, gave no warning as to why she was gone or how long she will be gone from school. So I went into this Year 13 class and asked them what they have been doing over the last couple of days – in my Year 13 classes we have been covering Access in order to get them ready for their major CAT (i.e. their big test) next Wednesday. When I asked them kids if they had covered ANY of the material I was talking about they said no – so basically, they were getting the shaft because the teacher was to lazy to actually teach. So in a 45 minute class I had to cram as much information in as possible just to get these students STARTED on learning Access which should have begun last week. I felt bad for them because I know it's not their fault that they don't know the material but I'm responsible for assigning this particular teacher to these Year 13 students (I really only had two choices of teachers who could take over the Year 12 and 13 classes once Adam left a few months ago; the Year 12 teacher is working out great and the kids are actually learning but obviously the Year 13 students are being neglected). I felt so bad that I actually apologized to the students for their lack of teaching and now that Year 12 is almost done with their course work for the year (the last thing they have to do is a project – but they can do that on their own) I'm going to try to take a more active role in teaching these neglected Year 13 students because I know they will suffer if I don't try to get them at least partially ready. So that was probably the most frustrating part of my day – knowing these students were being left behind and not being able to do a lot about it in one day.

After 4 classes, I had to leave school and get to the Peace Corps office as quickly as possible in order to run a diversity session for the training group. Now unlike a lot of teachers at my school, I do give my principal warning when I'm not going to be there and I try to arrange it so my kids have something to do while I'm going. The students are starting to practice for the end of year Ms. Chanel show – so that meant that periods 6 and 7 were being committed to that. So when I left, that meant that I only had to have period 5 covered…and I felt very comfortable in letting the Year 12 teacher who assists me run my class while I was gone. It made me wish I had two of her so I could have her commitment to doing a job well done in the Year 13 class – my Year 12 co-teacher is a rare find folks…rare indeed. So I hopped into a cab and headed down to the Peace Corps office to arrive at 11:59am my time (12:01pm by Kevin's time). About a month or so back, I helped run the first diversity session with Group 78 with Candice. Today was the second and final diversity session for the group (they only have about a week and a half left of being in the village and then they come into town for their swearing in ceremony). This also marked the first time that I would be able to go to their training village – Manunu.

So we get out to the training village and it's actually quite beautiful but not as beautiful as the village for Group 77 (there was no bay area situated right next to the training village). This was also the first time I had been around the trainers in a village since Group 77, so it was nice to hang out with them and laugh for a bit. Catch up on old and new times. I played Suipi (a samoan card game) with Leata and I realized that I had not played Suipi since my mid-service conference over a year ago…which meant that she thoroughly beat me in every hand. But it was fun and we had a good time before the training session began. After discussing some Peace Corps business, we finally started the session at about 2:30pm. This session dealt with an activity called 'Reincarnation'. In this activity, the trainees select a card from a playing deck (there are 16 volunteers so there were only 16 cards to choose from) and something about them would change based on the suit of the card. So if they got a spade, their gender changed. If they got a club, their race changed. If they got a heart, their sexual orientation changed. If they got a diamond, they were physically disabled – and for the purposes of this activity we limited the handicap to being blind. The point of this activity is to get the trainees to a point where they can attempt to see things from someone else's perspective (i.e. putting yourself in someone else's shoes).  We want to emphasize how important empathy is within the Peace Corps community – even though we are by our very nature a diverse group, even within this diverse group there is more diversity beyond our skills and knowledge. So the trainees chimed in on their thoughts about how their life would be different if one of the four changes happened to them and Kevin and I thought that trainees were very considerate and understood the underlying theme of the session. So it wasn't quite as 'fun' as the diversity map session, but it felt like this session had a lot more substance to it and is more applicable for when these trainees join the volunteer community within a few weeks.

One thing I did find out while hanging out with Kevin (our Life & Work coordinator) today is that I will be living the country on the same day he left the country as a volunteer in 2000. While I will not reveal the exact date I'm leaving, it has been 7 years since Kevin left Peace Corps Samoa as a volunteer and thus this particular day has cycled through all 6 days of the week to once again arrive on a Monday. I was shocked when he told me – maybe that means I'll come back here in a few years as a trainer of some sort.

After finishing up at the village, we headed back to town and I had Kevin drop me off at Paul/Viv's house for my tutoring session with the Faatuatua kids. Our session started at around 4:30pm instead of the normal 3:30pm start time. The only thing they had to do today was work on a Practice CAT to prepare them for their real one tomorrow. Once again, they made me realize how important these Practice CATs are in getting the poor marks out of them now so they can get good marks on their real test – preparation is key folks! And just in case you're wondering, the baby still does not have a name. I'm going to start calling him 'The Nameless One'…he's suppose to be dedicated this Sunday at church, so maybe he will have a name by that point. As you know, I usually have Tuesday dinner with the Phillips as part of my 'fee', but this time there were a lot of plates set at the table and as far as I knew it wasn't a special day (although today was Junior's birthday, he was spending it with his immediate family tonight). So I asked Paul what all the plates were for and he told me that Pastor Samoa and his wife, Alesi, plus their family was coming over for dinner tonight. This would be the first time that Alesi has seen the new baby since she was in New Zealand when he was born last week. So we had a HUGE meal with pizza, steak, eggs, cooked bananas, potatoes and fruit cocktails – it was quite a surprising feast. They keep this up, I'm going to start expecting huge feasts every Tuesday: two Tuesdays ago was the feast for my birthday, last Tuesday we went to Giordano's, this Tuesday was a big feast for Pastor – what will next week hold?!?! Anyway, after getting in some quality PS2 time playing the original Jak & Daxter and Need for Speed Underground, it was time to go home – so Dave and Torrie(Samoa's two boys) gave me a ride home. So after leaving the school at around 11:30am this morning I finally arrived back home at 10pm – and I did a lot of running/traveling in between. It's amazing (and tiresome) what you can accomplish in one day….only a few more days of school left!

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