Sometimes now when I have 10-30 minutes of down time, I will just lay in my bed, look at the mountain and rainforest, and enjoy some of the natural sounds outside my window. Beautiful, peaceful, and I might as well enjoy it while I still can. Minutes of serenity :-)
Finally caught Aunt Tai in the morning again, and she gave us a lift to school. Been a few weeks since our timing lined up with hers. Good to see her again. Then, I had a smooth lecture day in my classroom. I told the students we'd only have to do these type of sessions maybe 5 more times at the most, as the semester is rapidly winding down. Discussed the technicalities of waves and tides in Earth Science, and we looked at coral bleaching 101 in Marine Science. Coral bleaching was brought up by our presenter last Wednesday, so I thought it would be a good topic and a nice lead into some environmental science and global warming discussions.
I would like to say I really have seen some improvement with my students over the course of the year, which is a great feeling. Some improvements may seem small, but in the big picture all little steps count.
I headed out a little early on Monday as I got permission from my principal to leave during my prep period, the last class of the day. I wanted to go into town for an art reception my friend Lilian had asked me to come to, but I really needed to get my laundry done first. In order for that to happen, I needed to check out a little early. No problem, and she asked me Tuesday morning if I made it. I really liked it and thanked her again for letting me go.
So, my friend Lilian from church had mentioned this art reception taking place at the museum in town. The arts council is having this exhibit of work from local artists up for about a month and starting it with this little reception. Her boyfriend Niu had some pieces being displayed, that she hadn't even seen yet. She really wanted me to come, and I am super glad I did! It turned out to be a good evening.
Here's a picture of me with Niu and his two paintings of some traditional tautau (Samoan tatttoo). Interesting stuff. He also painted the mural on Manumalo school right next to where I live, which I will be taking a photo of one of these days. He currently teaches at Manumalo, but would really like to get his degree in Fine Arts. Nice guy and it was great to finally meet him, especially after the awesome chat I had with Lilian Sunday night. Also nice to chat with Lilian and her mom Miss Heidi a bit, while I was there Monday night.
Just so happened that when I first walked into the reception hall, I saw members of my Samoan family - Isa, Tasi, and Nina. Turns out that Ioana had a piece up, as well. Here's a photo I took with him. His paining on the left is an abstract of some Samoan tautau geometry he titled "Fell Good Vibes". He is currently attending the community college.
Was about ready to get back on a bus when cousin Nina said I could go home with her if I didn't mind hanging around a bit more. Of course not! Saw Mrs. Teofilo, who has picked Hannah and I up quite a few times now. One of her daughters goes to school at Tafuna, and her husband is a VP. He is currently off-island. He had picked us up a few times with her, and now even though he's not here she still picks us up. I told her how much I appreciate it, and we had a nice conversation. She also wanted to make sure I had a ride home.
Nina and I headed over to Utulei Beach, where some performances for Flag Day were taking place. Flag Day is on Wednesday, commemorating the day that American Samoa became a U.S. territory.- the day the U.S. flag was raised on the island. A really big Holiday down here. Performances by different groups took place starting at 2pm and were scheduled to run until 8 - three 2-hour phases. We made it for the beginning of the third phase, heard the governor give his remarks, and then watched a few of the dance numbers. Aunt Tai was there sitting at the Dept. of Health booth, and she bought Nina and I a snow cone.
This next photo shows all three of us. So glad I ended up heading into town for the art reception and ended up having a good night with some good local friends. Tai was telling me little things she knew about some that were up on the stage performing. A lot of the Samoan siva, some tribal music, and matching outfits. Seeing them up on stage like that reminds me that I am living on an island with a big tribal culture that is preserved and still active. We headed home a little after 7, which worked well for me as I wanted to make sure and wake up early for my workout, per the new usual.
Tuesday morning was rather comfortable in my bed, but I said, "Get up, you need to get your workout in, especially since you're going to do tomorrow's later this afternoon and have plans after. Gotta do it now and there's no reason not to get up, you're already awake." haha Workout done, ready for school, and standing on the street looking for a ride. A nice guy that has seen us before picked us up and was really friendly the whole way to school chatting about various things.
Then, it was a varied day in my classroom on Tuesday. Began with Robert, who I had met one of my first weeks in Am Sam and has given me some rides before, speaking to my first class of the day. He has some history with the military, some teaching, being a lawmaker here, and now serving as an assistant director of the port authority. He gave a nice talk about his background and a "pep talk" with some life encouragement and advice, having been born and raised in American Samoa himself.
Hannah spoke to my second class along with hers - her turn to be the guest speaker. She shared some photos and her experiences backpacking through Europe for 4 months and then 4 months in Asia. It's cool to hear her talk about her trips where she didn't necessarily know where she was going, but learned a lot, saw some cool things, and met some people. Asia is her big interest. I think it was nice for the students to see this, and some of them seemed to enjoy it.
For my marine science class, I decided to share some photos that my good friend Kelsey has taken. One of her passions is to promote conservation and appreciation for nature and the world's awesome creatures through her photography. You can check out some of her work on her website. http://www.naturalescapephoto.com/index.html
Then, the principal had agreed to come to our last two classes of the day. Hannah confirmed with her that morning, but then here we are sitting 10 minutes into class and she's not there yet. Hannah walks up to the office to have the principal tell her she forgot and said she'd come for just our last class. Alright, time to improvise. 2 minutes, literally 2 minutes, later an announcement comes over the phone saying we are ending the school day so some students can finish decorating the fence for Flag Day. Alrighty then... did the principal not know this 2 minutes ago when Hannah just talked to her? Not that it made any difference, but man highly unpredictable sometimes... Oh Samoa....
Out of school 2 hours early, and we decide to head straight for home. Had been raining most of the ay, and it did not stop for us to make the trip home. Drenched by the time I made it home. You can't specifically tell in this photo, but if you check above my top was dark blue that day and here it looks black. Also, lots of water splashing up on the sidewalk as cars would drive by. That was a fun "swim" home :) A little water never hurt anybody. I am very thankful for the rain coming back this week, though. It's been respectably cooler and real comfortable sleeping lately.
Did my workout that is scheduled for Wednesday morning as I will not be in my apartment when I wake up in the morning. Spending the night in town. After my workout, I hopped on a bus to my old village, where my Husker puletasi alterations were supposed to be done today. I had left it with Oli when we moved to resize it, as I have lost some weight and want it to fit nice when I bring it home. She's been rather busy, but I finally called her on Friday and she said to come Tuesday afternoon. I arrived and she had not yet touched it, but said to wait. 30 minutes later I was waling out the door with my refitted puletasi. She was super chatty and a lot of fun, though, while I sat there. I haven't sat and chatted that much with her, and she asked for me to come back and see her again before I move. I now have her e-mail address so I can stay in touch. She also let me take some photos around the sew shop. There are lots of them here, so a good representation.
We even got a picture together. She is so full of energy and lots of fun to chat with. A really great lady.
Now, I am off to a little BBQ with the Baptist friends from the South and a few other teachers, where they even have a veggie burger waiting for me. haha :-) Then, I'm heading into town to check out some more performances for Flag Day. They're going until 10pm this time. Then, I will be staying with tt the teachers in town and waking up early for the big fautasi race - the Samoan long boats. This should be exciting! Be looking for my post later this week about my experience with that.
Hope you all are having a nice week. This is a big cultural week for me, as I mentioned in my previous post I believe.