My first field trip from the teacher perspective was a success. The day seemed to be over and done with before it had even started. Perhaps that is my virus infested brain talking. haha More likely it seemed to go by so quickly because it was a whole lot of fun. You know I love learning, being outdoors, being in the National Park, and trying to share the awe, love, and appreciation for nature I have.
Might as well start at the beginning. Since the day before was a bit chaotic at school, I did not get a chance to gather all the students that were meant to join me on the field trip to go over a few things. That meant I did not get a chance to encourage them all to bring a bottle of water. Wanting to come prepared, I decided to buy a couple cases of water from the store across the street (just 30 cents a bottle) to be able to give one to each student that was joining me that day. Ended up getting a ride to school with our landlord, as he saw us standing alongside the road with my two cases of water.
My head was still stuffed up and muscles tired, but I was ready to go. Made it to school and headed straight for the cafeteria to see if the kitchen staff would be able to send us with any snacks. They told me they would get some sandwiches ready. Thank you thank you! I told them I would send a few students up about 8:45 to grab them. Had an announcement made for all of my students from 2nd and 3rd period that were coming on the field trip to report to my room immediately during 1st period. The bus said it would come at 8:30am, which I knew meant more about 9am; yet, I wanted to have time to go over a few things with all of them. (In my muffled weak sounding voice. haha)
They were all excited to go, and I explained that they better be on their best behavior. Reminded them how much effort I put in to get this lined up and how fortunate we were to get a bus and have the rangers willing to take us out. We would be stopping at the visitor center in Pago Pago, first, check out the exhibits there, and get our instructions from the rangers.
Our bus pulled into the parking lot about 8:55am. Climbed aboard, and I did a roll call and head count and then took my place in the front seat. My first time on a field trip from the teacher perspective. Lots of head counts to come. Sort of a cool feeling, though. Then the driver asked where we were going, and he didn't realize we were heading all the way to Vatia eventually, thanks to some miscommunication via my administration No worries, though. He called his boss, we pulled into the "school bus station", and the manager had us switch drivers. He wanted to give me one that is more used to driving a bus out over the mountain to Vatia - a guy who comes from that area. Thank you, kindly!
This bus driver turned out to be a lot of fun. He played some music for the kids, seemed to be making jokes, and even told them a little history of Vatia. Pulled into the Naitonal Park Vistor Center in Pago Pago. Great new visitor center! We were the first school group to be up there after the dedication, which is kind of cool. 25 students and I meandered a bit. They were like a bunch of 6 year olds on a playground, I tell you what. "Oooh look a this." "This is cool." "Take my picture." "I wanna touch this." haha
In addition to having Ranger Pa'i lead our interpretive trip for the day, Ranger Eymard also came with us. He is in charge of the social media for the Park, and he was all over the group photos for us throughout the day. He is Filipino and has been with the division for less than a year. I enjoyed getting to talk with him. He and I made the caboose when we were out on the trail in Vatia. Thankful for nice group photos and all the other photos he took, as well. Great photographer. Plus, he shared about 36 from the day on the Park's Facebook page. Can you find me in this one? haha
After a little talk in the center's classroom about safety, rules, and expectations, we were back on the bus following the rangers out to Vatia. My photograph shows us on the bus following the NPS vehicle:
Up and over the mountain we went, which was an experience in the school bus. haha. The driver did a great job, and the kids sure got a kick out of him pushing the pedal to the metal from time to time. Made a stop at the nice scenic overlook of Pago Harbor on our way up. This is a photo I grabbed:
And this one is courtesy of Eymard:
Onward we went. It's simply a fun experience to be driving up and over to Vatia. Great views of the ocean, the rainforest, and the mountains. Ahhhhhhhhh.... just take it all in. Some students brought along their cameras, which is awesome! I even noticed a few boys sticking their iTouch out the window as we went, and I asked if they were filming. Yep. "We want some video of the whole field trip thing." Cool. At least half of the students that were with me on Friday had never been down to Vatia before. I was excited for all of us :-)
All the way at the end of the paved road, we stopped and then spent a little time taking in the beautiful Vatia Bay along the rock wall.
Most students love posing for photos, and are known for putting up the Warrior "W" on their hands.
Then, a hiking we went. Well... mostly just a nice little walk to the Pola Island Trail. If one has a vehicle, they usually drive a little farther on this unpaved bumpy road to the actual trailhead due to a group of some not-so-friendly dogs. Vincent, of the Maintenance Division, actually joined us for this little jaunt and stood guard as we walked past the dog area. No problems, today. :-)
Not even one minute into the walk, I get some "Miss Boschen, it's hot." "Oh come on. haha You can do it. This walk isn't that far." Little pansies. haha It was fun for some of them I think to see me out on a hiking trail, as they all know how much I like to talk about it and share photos with them. Some of them also chatted me up more than I've had from them all year. Don't get me wrong, these girls aren't quiet by any means, but it was fun to have them just "chat" with me more. Elena said she didn't realize my first name was Jessica until this day, as that's what Ranger Pa'i and Eymard called me all day. You have to be kidding me? She is also a wrestling sister, like me. I do remember seeing her at the championships, and she told me every Saturday she was at a tournament watching (during the season). Elena also mentioned it would be cool to have a job like them. I told her those are exactly the kind of jobs I'm looking into these days. More my kind of teaching. Interpretive and environmental education, if you will :-)
Then, we have Tuli here. She stuck by me most of the day, chatted me up, told me her dad kept trying to call to check on her, noted all the new things she was experiencing, and by the end of the day she was telling me it would be cool to work for the National Park. I couldn't agree more :-) I encouraged her to go check it out this summer, maybe do a little volunteering, and talk with the rangers some more. That would be super cool!
At the trailhead for the Pola Island trail, there is a nice upward view of Pola Uta, the famous nesting site for seabirds on the island. Saw some boobies and other birds flying around as Ranger Pa'i told us all about them.
Here are some of the boys actually doing what they're supposed to at the time and looking up at the birds. ;-)
So, I had my big D70 out to take photos for the day, but I also had brought along my little compact camera in my bag. I decided it would be fun to let one of my students take some photos with it as we went. Some shots from a student perspective - an experiment. I handed it off to Christopher (Chrissy), and I enjoyed looking through them. Some great shots, some fun ones, and a handful of self portraits. haha
I enjoy this one below. Shows Miss Boschen with her camera taking photos of some of her students out on the awesome field trip in the National Park of American Samoa! I learned that a bunch of this rock we were walking on is basalt rock. Pa'i also kept reiterating that we were not to take any rocks from the grounds, as it is all part of the National Park. Learning about conservation :-)
Here is one of my favorite group photos from the day. We did a normal smile nice one first out on this rock with Pola Island off to the left, but then the kids insisted on a fun one, which Eymard entertained. Turned out nicely :-) They were having such a good time. I was, too, as you can imagine, along with my awesome ranger friends.
Here you can see Emi, Ranger Pa'i, Chris, myself, and Amona.
One of my fun little slightly artsy photos:
After our little excursion on the Pola Island trail, we loaded back up on the bus to make our way to the trailhead for the Lower Sauma Trail between the villages of Afono and Vatia for lunch. There is a stunning view of Vai'ava Strait from here, which you can see in the background of these students enjoying their lunch on the grass.
Many of us sat under the nice little fale, though, while we enjoyed our sack lunches from the great kitchen staff. They're always so friendly, and I love saying hello with a smile to them everyday and receiving hellos and smiles backs. Not only did they prepare us sandwiches, but they threw in some tatertots they cooked up quick for us in the morning. Yes, tatertots. They actually weren't too soggy at this point. Plus, they sent two cases of milk cartons. Tai lava! (Thank you much!)
We had some extra lunches, so I gave them to the National Park staff and our bus driver. We also were joined by some guys from the Maintenance Division. The boss came over and talked to me a bit. Asked if I had been hiking out on the Shoreline Trail near Leone. Yes, sir. "The guys told me they saw you out there one day." Haha, oh yeah." I did see them, and the trail was sure clear on my way back down, too." You all may remember my post about that one day. So, then I walked over and said something to them. "So, you guys remember seeing me that day hiking on the Shoreline Trail." They nod their heads and smile, and Vincent said, "I thought that was you." So, I grabbed a photo with the group. Thanks to these guys, we have nice trails to walk on as we enjoy the beautiful National Park. They all enjoy their jobs, too.
I also grabbed a photo with Ranger's Pa'i and Eymard before getting back on our bus. Yay for the interpretation and Education Division! Thankful for them, and I love their jobs. Two really cool people I am happy to know and will definitely stay in touch with. Eymard said this is one of the few photos he's actually in, as he is usually behind the camera. That's me most of the time, too. :-)
We had to leave a little earlier as the bus driver needed to be back, so we showed back up at school partway through 6th period. I made them all come to my room so we could discuss our day a bit before I sent them off to their last class of the day. Many said thanks again as they left. Some obviously purely enjoyed it simply because it was a day out of school, but they are high school students. I can't fight it. haha I hope together with the rangers and the experience in the park that we were able to encourage more appreciation for nature, conservation, and the island. I am still in awe of my awesome surroundings, and it seems that some of my students are beginning to understand that more. We had a great day, and I am beyond happy with my first field trip from the teacher perspective. Now we shall see if it works out and I can get some more students out there.
Go check out the National Park Website if you're interested. http://www.nps.gov/npsa/index.htm There's lots of cool stuff up there. Also, if you have Facebook, you should go "like" their page. Just search "National Park of American Samoa." You can see more photos there, and I learn all sorts of things as they make different posts. Okay, okay... enough of my plug for the National Park for one day :-)
Headed home during my prep period after speaking with my administration about my field trip and finding out that we were no longer having the planned staff meeting after school. Did a few things on my computer, but then spent the rest of the afternoon into evening on my bed sleeping away more of my cold.
Saturday morning made a stop at the post office. Then ate some pancakes and drank 3 cups of coffee at Matai before checking out the wellness fair going on in Utulei. There was a pretty good turnout, lots of free goodies, samples of some healthy smoothies and salads, and exercise taking place. Didn't spend much time in town, though, as I had plans to watch TV and movies for the afternoon. I did end up feeling much better that afternoon though and got a little ab workout in, which felt great!
I was being picked up for little dinner with the Southern Baptists at 5:45 that I was looking forward to - something a little different to get me out of the house. One guy who has been joining them for church as he is currently working for the Power Authority here had invited me to this dinner at his house. He is leaving within a few weeks and wanted to have the group over. His name is Mike, he lives in Tampa, and is Jamaican. His house is up the mountain by Pava'ia'i - nice view for sure. Good little dinner with fruit for dessert! Mmmm.
"Jessica, do you play card games?" Haha, I sure do :-) My family all knows that well enough. Then, we played this card game for a couple of hours - O' No 99. They tell me it comes from the 70s. It was a lot of fun. They sure did table talk a lot, though. "This is the most table talk I've seen in a card game, ever." They all laughed. haha
Hope you all have a good week. I am down to 5 weeks as this week begins. Hopefully a couple more field trips in some shape or form, a few lessons on conservation, a few guest speakers, some standardized testing, review, finals, and who knows what fun and adventures in between. :-)