Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time to Catch Up

Like I said in my last post, I was not sure when I would have access to Internet again after moving. I currently type this post sitting in my classroom (yes, my classroom) at Tafuna High School hooked up with an Ethernet cord to the wall. We have talked with Blue Sky and will hopefully have Internet up and running in our apartment in a few days. Yes, I am moved into the apartment. I believe this may be the largest bedroom I have ever had to myself (except maybe when we lived on the farm). I plan on doing a video tour of the apartment for you all soon. I have not recorded it yet, but as soon as I do I will post it. The place is nice and our host family/landlords are great. We have a commute from school - between 30-40 minutes each day, but it is doable. After we moved all of our stuff in, we headed down the road to a grocery store. There's a little one right in front of our house but limited supply. I live in the village of Pava'ia'i, a little off the main road on the fringe of the rainforest.

Here's the laundromat and store that is right in front of the building we live in:

When we arrived at the grocery store a 1/4 mile away from our place, I saw Tang on the shelf! I haven't had Tang since Sheldon and I used to go to Katherine's house, our babysitter. I may have to buy some one of these days to see if it's as good as I remember.

This is the outside of the grocery store we walked down the road to for a few things. Cool thing when we were in there - a Casting Crowns song was playing. I've ben to a Casting Crowns concert with my family, and I enjoy their music.

Sneak peek of the apartment. This is looking through my bedroom window:

This is the outside of the building. There are four units to the building, and I live on the top right hand side. Yes, I have a balcony/porch. Will be hanging up my Ecuador hammock I bought in the rainforest as soon as it gets here. Hopefully within a few weeks.

Moved in on my birthday, and I found some Tradewinds Sweet Tea at the grocery store. Figured I could buy one as another little birthday present to myself. haha

So these first few nights at the apartment make me like the location even more. Cannot see the ocean from our place, but there are mountains in the background. I think I mentioned living on the fringe of the rainforest... well, there are several flying foxes out and about at dusk and through the night. Flying foxes are a species of fruit bats. So cool! I hope to become a professional bat watcher and photographer before the end of the year. Total biology nerd was seen our first night in Pava'ia'i. Hannah said it was cool to see me so passionate and excited.

Woke up Sunday morning and had my glass of orange-mango juice on the porch just outside my room.

I went with a few other girls to a Christian Church we had been invited to by a woman that works in the Dept of Education. Here's a photo of me in my first Samoan church outfit.

It was a bit different from what I am used to at home, but I liked it and everyone was so nice. The cool thing about this church is it may not look like a church, but the outside is not what is important. It's about the people inside the church. You can't have a church without people. Only about 40 or so people in there, but they were all so nice.

We were introduced at the beginning of service. Kind of hard to miss us sitting there. The only pulagis (not Samoan)  except for the pastor and his family. Miss Natini (the woman we went to church with) took us out for lunch afterwards and invited the pastor and his family. We ate at a nice Chinese restaurant, and then he invited us to the service later that evening hosted by the youth as they had just finished a weeklong camp. I ended up going back because it sounded interesting and a good time. They all remembered my name from the morning. I made friends with a few little girls - Tasha and her younger twin sisters Rita and Tala. I sat up front with them. Yep, up front. A little un-Lutheran of me hahaha. You all should understand that joke.

I felt very welcome there, and Andrea and I are planning on going back this Sunday. The youth sang, presented things they learned, and went through a slideshow of photos from their camp. They served bars and hot chocolate after the evening service by the youth.

It is an amazing and powerful experience to be in this room with these people that sing hymns with such truth and energy. I couldn't help but feel invigorated and enlightened. I very much enjoyed this experience. After evening service, I talked with Brother Richard a lot (who seems to be somewhat of an assistant to the pastor). We discussed my background, what I'm doing here, and some of his background. It was a really cool conversation.

I've seen some of the members of that church out on the street, and they've all been saying hello and remembering me. I recognize them, as well. Bought myself a little ice cream. Grandma and Grandpa Wingert, these should look familiar to you. I thought of your house right away :-)

Now, back at the apartment finishing my catch up post at 8:12pm local time, where I do have Internet now! Blue Sky came and set it up today.

Monday we caught a bus at 7:10am, rode it to the Tafuna road, and then walked 25 minutes to Tafuna High School, where we met for the general assembly with the DoE. Just a big official ceremony, and we were introduced as the new World Teachers. Met with our schools next, and our Vice Principal talked with the 5 of us who will be teaching at Tafuna.

Went and looked at some school supplies to get an idea of things I may want after seeing my classroom, and then I came back to the apartment. I went on a little walk, and bought a bundle of green banans. These are a different species of banana than what you would be buying in the grocery store back home. These don't turn yellow when they ripen from my understanding. I paid $4 for this whole bundle.

We boiled some for dinner to eat along with some leftovers from our orientation. I asked our landlords how exactly to boil them before we did it, and yep you boil them with the skin. It comes off much easier after they've been boiled. Everyone in the apartments was pretty satisfied with my little purchase.

Tuesday morning began with a staff meeting at Tafuna followed by department meetings. I now have met other science teachers and my department head Dr. Rose (from India). The current schedule has me teaching three sections of Earth & Space Science and two sections of Marine Science! Should be good. Here's the Marine Science textbook I have available, and I will getting the Earth Science book from Dr. Rose hopefully Wednesday.

I realized I had not taken a photo of the welcome sign to the school yet, and now seemed like a good time to do it. I spent most of my day at the high school minus a little meeting with my Field Director at her office. Received the key to my classroom, number 301.

Big project for Wednesday to get some of that done. I did arrange my desks Tuesday afternoon, and I'm liking it. I also spoke with a few other teachers today, including one of the Special Ed teachers. There are ones who are curious and stop by and chat for a bit, then others just do their own thing.  I also saw a student sitting outside and asked him to help me move a table from one end of my room to the other. It was the only thing I wasn't able to lift by myself. He was pretty quiet at first, but then I got him to talk a little bit. His name is Fred and is a freshman at Tafuna this year. His mom is one of the counselors, and she used to teach science. I just enjoy meeting people and learning a little about them. I told him even if he doesn't take one of my classes that he should stop in and say hi sometimes.

The football players started working out in the gym this afternoon, and I could hear their music. I was singing along all afternoon in my classroom. First thing I did was open the windows and turn the fans on inside my room, and then realized how close I was to the outdoor gym and the cafeteria. Should be interesting to see what noises I hear throughout the year. Anyways, bit of a long day but a successful day. Feels good to be in my classroom setting some things up. It's really happening. I'm teaching some high school science for the year.

By the way, if anyone happens to have any books that may deal with Marine, Earth, or Space Science and are willing to part with them for a while, let me know. I have a nice set of bookshelves in my room, and I would love to fill them with references if I can find them. I will have a physical mailing address before the end of the day on Wednesday to add to my forms of communication and connection. I know some have been wondering. A lot has been happening while I have been away from the Internet, and I will continue to post whenever I have the time. No promises it will be every day when school gets going. I love writing these posts, but some days I'm sure I will come home and just be wore out or want to go for a little hike or whatever.

One last note to any of my teachers, professors, mentors, and all of you have made an impact on my life that may be reading this, I just want to say Thank you. I would not be the person that I am today if it wasn't for every single person and experience I have had thus far. Some of my overarching goals for the school year are to get my students to enjoy learning (like my great teachers and professors did for me), make them curious about the world around them, and encourage college using my experience as an example. Good night for me, and good morning/day for y'all when you read this long post.


  1. YOU my dear girl have made an impact on my life. I am so incredibly proud of you. You my dear goddaughter. I am so inspired by the things you write and your life. I love you so much.........You have grown up into the most amazing person I have ever known......did you have your bracelet on in your Sunday photo?

    1. Thanks, Aunt Kristin. I'm not that amazing, but hopefully my students will find me as inspiring, as well. We aren't even into the meat of my service yet, but things are great so far. I'm meeting so many people, making connections, and they are all so thankful to have us here.

      Yes, did wear my bracelet. Told you it would be my church bracelet. :)

  2. Let me look through all of my books. I may have some science books that I am not using at this point in time. I will also keep my eyes open for any.