Sunday, December 2, 2012

Various Thoughts and Occurrences

I want to start off this post by commenting on the little book exchange I've got going on with my students. This is why I brought books into my room to sit on the shelf, for any of them to borrow as they wish. Even though one ended up getting ripped, I taped it ip; one of my students borrowed a  few a week ago, and every other day she comes in and tells me how much she's enjoying reading them. Another student picked up another one today, and I think I mentioned this last week that a student actually brought in a few books to add to the little pile I have here. Reading is fun, and I'm glad some of them are enjoying the books I've had sitting here. Our own little book exchange :-)

As you may have noticed in my last post, I've been doing a lot of reading myself lately. Finished another book on Tuesday. I sometimes forget how easily I can get lost in a book not wanting to put it down. Such a good feeling. The book I finished on Tuesday was the second in a trilogy, and the third one does not get released until March 2013. I'll be itching for that date. I was actually introduced to this autor Cassandra Clare by one of my awesome professors of Religious Studies at Morningside. I've read all of the books in her first series minus the one that will be released March 2014 and have enjoyed the prequel series, as well. Good stuff if you're into sci-fi, fantasy, a little romance drama, action, and some good vs. bad. I started another book that had been sent from home, and I finished it Friday afternoon. I posted a photo of my new books on Facebook and made the comment that I finished another one and maybe should slow down, but.... nah :-)

There may be times where I only have one post for the week rather than two, and this is one of those weeks. I hope those of you who are still reading enjoy what I write. I sort of just write this like it's my journal, where I'm not necessarily creative in my writing. Just write what I'm thinking. I know some friends have told me it that it sounds like me when they read it, and that's how I like it. All Jessica Boschen :-)

I've been a little under the weather this week, which I felt coming on last Sunday. Stuffy head, little runny nose, and some congested coughing to boot. haha Man, this is the fourth time I've caught something like this since I've been down here. Maybe the climate really doesn't like me :-) Oh well, doesn't dampen my spirits. I think the rain dampens me enough, literally. haha Fighting off a little influenza isn't new to me, of course. This did lead me to give lessons that were much more student driven with independent work time. Not worth me to stand up and lose my voice.

Turns out, the students can actually handle independent work time well. I made a list of tasks on the board, and most of them just went at it. They must be used to this in their other classes. So I ended up letting them go with this style of learning for the rest of the week. I felt significantly better on Friday after feeling a bit sluggish the previous three days.

The students didn't have to come to school on Wednesday as we teachers were attending a DOE conference about the new Common Core standards that will be implemented next year. A few educators from the States were here giving presentations, and they did have some interesting things to say. We volunteer teachers found that these other teachers here behave like our students do in the classroom, in a sense. For example, at the end of the presentations they ask if any one has any questions. "Nooooo," was the response. Listening to the Tafuna teachers around me, it sounded just like the students in my classroom. I can't quite explain it, other than I almost felt like it was my students sitting around me. All four of us volunteer teachers at Tafuna looked at each other and grinned when this happened.

At the end of the conference we were filling out some evaluations, and one of the questions asked what one thing is that would really help with the learning in your classroom. I noticed some wrote more resources or a projector. I love my projector! It has made a world of difference in my classroom, allowing me to use more visuals during instruction; yet, I did not find myself writing down more resources like some around me. Yes, resources are great, but we can always make do with what we have. I have found that you can have a great classroom with limited resources. One thing that you need is a classroom that has common sense and basic respect. This has been improving in my classroom, but something I keep coming back to as a new educator. I'm looking forward to having discussions with friends and family back home when I return on this subject. It will be interesting to look back over the whole year. Right now, as the semester is approaching I have found myself doing a little checkpoint study of my time here.

The Internet was out in my classroom both Thursday and Friday, but I'm getting more used to not being around technology 24/7. I even forgot my cell phone at home on Thursday, but I don't really use that thing much here anyway. You would think that after a whole day away from the Internet that it would be the first thing I did when I got home, log on and check if there's anything I missed. Well, not quite the first thing I did when I came home. After Zumba class, came home with Erica, drank a glass of lemonade, showered, ate a little, and then found myself checking my computer real quick. Saw my friend Ryan was online and wanted to ask him about his new job, and then he asked if I wanted to Skype with him and Sarah quick. That was fun. I haven't Skyped with either of them in a while, so that was nice before reading a little and hitting the hay. My week days are pretty routine now - get up early, school, exercise, eat, read, and go to bed. Don't forget church Wednesday nights, then the weekend is whatever I feel like at the time, usually some exercise, church, reading, conversation, and little adventures.

Speaking of church. We've been singing Christmas songs lately. Some even started before Thanksgiving, which I usually frown upon. haha Anyways, all are the traditional ones I'm used to singing at Christmas Eve service every year, so good feelings of home :-) When we sing "Angels We Have Heard on High", I smile inside as I feel my mouth making that perfect O shape, the one you see in clip art of carolers all the time. Learned one new one I was not accustomed to called "In the Cave". Getting in the Christmas spirit, even though it's not cooling down outside.

Went to church Sunday morning to find Christmas decorations up.

Jenna, the Pastor's daughter came and sat with Hannah and I for a while.

Hannah came along with me to watch our little special and filmed it for me. Here's a clip for you. This is the 2nd verse and chorus for "Without Him". I sang soprano - part of the harmony.

Here's our singing group: Richard, Lillian, and Miss Heidi.

Since I had the camera figured I'd get some photos with my different church friends, and I was wearing one of my Samoan puletasis. Here I am with the Tongan boys. They're my van buddies: Junior, Paia, and William.

I was having a discussion with Pastor Scot on the way home from church Wednesday night about some politics. I had been wondering how the electricity on this island came from, and I learned that it comes from big diesel generators. Wow. I've never heard of that one before. Very interesting. So, the electricity price fluctuates with the price of diesel. He also told me that there was a shortage when the tsunami hit in 2009.

Eyeglasses... One of my roommates and I have been discussing eyeglasses lately. I have my reading glasses here, and I've been a good girl using them when I sit and read my books. She needs a new prescription, so we were asking around where to go. We've taken note that not many people on this island really have glasses or contacts for that matter. Several of our students might struggle with classwork because they simply struggle to see the text and board, and we know some of them did as they recently got their hands on some glasses. There may be a need for access to eyeglasses here. Huh. Something I've been pondering lately.

Friday night we attended the Teacher of the Year banquet on island, as our group was invited by the Teacher Quality division of the Department of Education. Very nice ordeal. We were served Samoan size platters of food. We each had our own PLATTER. Check it out. Oye.

Obviously way too much food for us palagi. One of our fellow teachers at Tafuna won the Territorial Teacher of the Year Award, so we got to take ulas up to him given to us by our principal. Ulas are like leis. Here's a picture of one that we all were presented with when we arrived to the event at the auditorium in Utulei. When the awards were announced, different people walk up with these ulas and place them on the winners. It's a cultural thing here. Stacked up to their foreheads at some points. haha It was fun to get to take one up though.

Here is one of the table centerpieces that they let us take home to have on our table for a while.

The four of us volunteers who teach at Tafuna got a photo with our principal and one of the VPs, as we were all dressed up at this formal event.

These are some of my fellow volunteers on the island.

This is my Field Director through WorldTeach.

 This is Jessica from Iowa who went to Creighton in Omaha.

Here is Hannah, my awesome roommate.

Left the apartment around 7am Saturday morning with Hannah headed to our new favorite spot - Suala's Restaurant for some breakfast and hanging out in the air conditioning for a few hours before meeting up with the volunteers in town at the post office. Oatmeal sounded good as I still felt a little sick but significantly better. The side of fruit really brought it all home for me - hit the spot :-)

I had a package, Hannah had 2, and one of our other roommates had 2, so we were standing there with a stack of 5 boxes. Some of the boys I know from church happened to be there and they offered to take our packages and drop them off at our place later so we could enjoy ourselves in town for a bit rather than getting straight on the bus. Very nice of them. This led us toward the ocean, where we ran into another volunteer, sat, and chatted for a while. Then, off to the public library, where I read through parts of a book about choosing good foods to eat - natural ones, not processed. Took me a while to pick a book to flip through.

Hannah noticed a bunch of kids in the children's area, and we went to see what they were doing. Ended up helping some of them with their little Christmas lantern project. Found out they have these little youth activities ever Saturday morning. May stop in some more to help out from time to time. Here is one of the girls I was helping - Ulina.

After we came home from church, got to open the care package that came in Saturday. Lots of little surprises. There are some Christmas presents from my parents, brother, and aunt I am not opening until closer to that time - some maybe even Christmas day. Some of Grandma Wingert's sugar cookies! Also, a jar of bread and butter pickles from Grandma and Grandpa Wingert. Thanks for sending something for my vegetarian diet. Love these things :-) I never imagined I'd get so many packages while here, but they are a lot of fun. I've heard there may be a few more on the way, too. Mail is fun, no matter what it is - unless it's bills and ads, of course. haha

1 comment:

  1. Such an interesting post Jess. I couldn't tear myself away from it. I bet you are in Heaven with those pickles. I love seeing the faces of some of the people you work with on a daily basis. makes me feel better :) That center piece is absolutely gorgeous! We have a fake on here in our hotel room in Vegas :) Not nearly as PRetty as that one! Had to catch up on ya!