Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Internet is Back!

One way of saying “welcome to American Samoa” is random days without any Internet access and it mysteriously coming back at some point. That’s what happened this weekend. It was funny to watch people constantly check for a connection throughout the day on Sunday, as we had free time until 2pm. Still no Internet on Monday either. This is going to be a slightly long post covering a few days. I still wrote a bit each day and saved it in my word processor to keep my story flowing.
We started early Saturday morning and we are on our bus at 8am for our island tour. Headed east along the coast and made a stop for a photograph at a location known for these two major rocks – Fatu ma Futi. The story is told that these rocks are two brothers. I’m sure you can search for the whole story online, part of the history. It was cool to drive farther down the coastline and actually wrap around the harbor. This island has some really cool curvature to it with the mountains in the middle.

My fellow WorldTeachers were making comments about my nice camera today and asking  about it. Photography is a hobby. I’m just an amateur, but I really enjoy it. It is the one form of art that I have really worked with. Most of the time, I just learned things as  I went, but I did take a few classes while at Morningside which pushed me creatively and made me think more about people photos and portraits. I haven’t done a whole lot of that yet while I’ve been here on the island, but I have some ideas in the mind and have plenty of time to try them out. Currently, one of my favorite things to do is take photos from an unexpected angle. Try to make the normal postcard photo a bit different. I’m also noticing that I am digging some black and white work right now. Here’s a cool shot I took of one of these rocks. I purposefully shot it at this diagonal angle. What do you all think?

As we were driving along the one main road of American Samoa, you could tell when we reached the more remote end as we headed east. Not as many buses out and about, or vehicles in general. We had a picnic lunch at a spot known as “the wharf” and had our first opportunity to do a little swimming in the ocean. The only other time I had been swimming in the ocean was three years in the Galapagos Islands. As soon as the water touched my lips I could taste the salt. Wowza. Little waves also kept coming in, and we could see coral below us. Nice little spot. After I floated a bit in the ocean, I of course had to walk around and take some photos. Wouldn’t be Jessica Boschen if I didn’t ;-) I have a feeling my friends would laugh at this comment.

I’m finding it difficult to get over seeing how blue the water is here. The blue changes some throughout the day depending on where light is streaming in from, but at the wharf today it was truly blue. Check it out:

It was also surreal to see how clear the water was. The last time I was swimming was back in a lake in Nebraska. Definitely not crystal clear, not bad, just not crystal clear. It might be hard to even realize there is water in this first picture, but you can see the ripple sand light a bit where my foot is.

Along our way schools were pointed out where some of our volunteers are placed, as well as the roads that lead to their housing. We also had some really nice views out the window as we headed down the road from our fun bus. My butt was defin itely ready for a break from the wooden seat by the time we returned, though. haha

I did a little strength and conditioning workout with a few others at the playground just across the street tonight, which felt good before heading down to Tosa Grill for a little social time and some grub. Nice little spot, and our field director recommended it. Little bit of a walk, but that’s  something I am really getting used to here and enjoy. It was only about a 15 minute walk to this place we went to Saturday night. Another good example Sunday morning laundry trip. A small group of us girls headed toward the Laundromat – about a 30 minute walk one way. After we walked about halfway back, we were offered a ride the rest of the way, which was really nice. I had been offered rides a few times before, but wasn’t far enough away that it really mattered. Vehicles don’t drive past 35-40 mph here on the island, so a lot of passengers ride in the back of pickup trucks. I remember doing that on the farm a bit, and I felt like a true Samoan after doing that now today. We had some fun along the way and chatted a bunch.

Just chilled down by the ocean for a while before some sessions Sunday afternoon, and I find myself saying today that I am more of a mountain girl than an ocean girl. I still love the ocean, but I ‘d rather go hike up the mountain than walk along the beach. I’m excited to check out some of the trails here. It is cool to be in this location where I literally have ocean in front of me and a mountain behind me.  It was also nice to have this nice relaxing day - the day of rest. We still saw some people out and about, especially toward the evening as several families were out at the park. I like this idea of spending time with your family on Sunday. This is one thing I have been excited to experience here is the stronger observation of the Sabbath than what I am accustomed to back at home in the States. I cannot wait to further experience the importance of religion here. I mean come on... Religious Studies was one of my minors and I am on track to go to grad school for it.

Final couple of notes on the weekend. Once again, sorry I did not get this posted before you all awoke on Monday morning, but “welcome to American Samoa.” :-) After coming back from our trip to the Laundromat, I reorganized some of my stuff and decided to set a couple more of my photos out of some of my family and best friends. I already had one photo sitting behind my bed – with my brother Sheldon when we were much younger. That photo is in the teddy bear frame, which may be a bit hard to see here.

Speaking of my brother… I literally spoke with him on the phone today for a bit. I had originally planned to try to Skype my parents Sunday morning (my time), but then the Internet was down. I have not had a chance to pick up a cell phone here yet, but one of my fellow Tafuna teachers offered me hers to make a quick call to let them know I wouldn’t be able to get online today. Sheldon answered Mom’s phone, and he couldn’t believe I was calling. “How are you calling me?” he said.  Haha Costs us about 0.17 a minute for outgoing calls, but incoming calls I can get for free but someone back home is paying for it. I still hope to use Skype most of the time for things like that, but a phone could be handy to call or text quick and say hey get online.  Here’s one of my favorite photos with my brother just for fun. I’m all about the pictures (recurring theme in this post haha).

Still no Internet Monday (not until Tuesdsay afternoon for that matter). If I’m not posting on any given day or string of days, your first assumption should be that our Internet is down. We had a teacher session on long term planning first thing this morning, followed by a break allowing me to go pick up a cell phone. I talked with both Mom and Dad on my new phone. It’s a basic track-phone. Taking me back to those junior high and early high school sporting event days.

Monday afternoon we headed to Blunt’s Point, an overlook in another village, for a session on cultural adjustment. It was a steep little hike up to the point from the road and had a great view. This was a nice session introducing us to some things we might experience. A few things were pointed out that I’m really liking about this area. For instance, on the roads, vehicles will stop to let others into traffic all of the time, they stop for pedestrians all of the time, and they honk or wave at one another to say hello all the time. All the time! It’s a pretty cool phenomenon. Made me think of the Nebraska driving wave but on a whole new level. The biggest thing is how they just stop and let other traffic go in front of them. How often do you see that back home? Maybe coming out of a crowded parking lot after a football game or something. Here’s a few photos I took from up at Blunt’s Point:

When we came back to campus Veronica and Jenn (our two leaders) brought out some examples of different puletasis (formal wear) for us to see. There were even some donations from previous volunteers that we were able to take if we wanted any. I found one skirt that I can use some while I am here. We were also given WorldTeach fabric so we can have a skirt sewn out of that to wear to certain things together, and I will even use mine for school. I will be having one Tafuna High School skirt made, and I plan on at least one puletasi. You get to have some fun with your puletasi designs picking out fabric and helping with a design idea. I’ll be taking care of that sometime within the next few weeks, and then you will better understand what I am referring to, but all include ankle-length skirts.

Finally, I joined one of my fellow teachers who had the idea to take some dinner down to our security guard, who is also the principal at Nu’uli Vocational Technical School. We had a nice chat with him, and I was particularly intrigued as he taught at Tafuna High School for 11 years, coached football there, and served as their vice principal before moving to Nu’uli. Definitely some nice reassurance on setting your level and respect in the class and it should run more smoothly. “Show ‘em who’s boss, he said.”

Tuesday morning we met with some local teachers in our content area, and the science teacher we had has been teaching at Samoana high school for 5 years, and she gave us an example lesson, which was a lot of fun. We worked with land management and the environment. We get to work with her some more over the next few days, which will be really helpful. Next, we had another language class followed by lunch. Then, I went with two of my colleagues to Tafuna High School to meet a few of the vice principals we will be working under. They were very friendly, and it was nice to meet some folks there and get a better feel for the school.

Here's a photo of the outdoor gym and cafeteria at Tafuna High School:

After that I went with a few others to drop off our WorldTeach material at a sewing shop to have a skirt made. Came back, and we had Internet. After a session on teaching with limited resources, I sat down and responded to some emails and updated my blog. Sorry again for the delay, but I hope you all enjoy this long post. 


  1. Boschen is at the Ocean! Sorry, I just had to say it! It was the first thing I thought when I saw the pictures. Seems like you are having a great time, I loveeee seeing all the pictures which as you said 'with you, there's always pictures!' Hopefully we can skype soon. Love you! :)

  2. HEHEHE at Karena :) Jess I LOVE the photos! You sure do a better job with that Camera then I ever did :) The Ocean is so beautiful. Makes me want to go to Hawaii but heck if I do that I just as well keep going to come stay with you :) Makes me feel like I am there. Interesting reading and I read ever word. I am going to miss Shel when he goes back to college. Him and Jordan have been such great help and good workers too.....love you bunches....