Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tales of the Island Teacher

Ants, Ants, and More Ants
From day one of living in the townhouse in Malaeimi, there have often been ants scurrying about the kitchen. Some times you can see a trail of them coming up the wall. They would immediately swarm any spots of food or liquid left out. If the sink isn't completely clear, I find a batch of them huddled around whatever little food they find when I first wake up in the morning.

Was getting pretty used to it, and they actually didn't seem to be out as much lately. Well, I spoke too soon. I see them a little more now again, and here's the real kicker. I found a line trailing down the wall in my bathroom upstairs from the light fixture above the sink down to the floor. What on Earth were they doing up there? No food in the bathroom. I did find them swarming about my little trash box up there, which happened to be full of mucus filled Kleenex. Do they find mucus appetizing? Ick. So, I threw the whole box out and then sprayed the floor area and all along their trail on the wall and cleaned it up.

They proceeded to form their line in that area for a while after, but thankfully now I'm only finding a few. Oh, and did I mention that a few would wander around my bathroom sink. I also found a patch on my floor right next to my bed. The place where a few Kleenex would pile up as I laid in my bed sick last week during the afternoon. Seriously, ants? 

Then, after this problem in the bathroom, I come to school to find a trail of them on my desk and in my top right drawer, which I frequently open. Gah. What are they doing in there? Sure, they're often along the walls. Have been from day one, and I generally let them be. Just part of living here, but they are not allowed to scurry in one of my most often opened desk drawers. They wind up crawling on my hands or over the kleenex I'm about to use. Not cool. Once again, are they after my discarded mucus? haha

So, from time to time over the past few days I've been swatting ants that make their way onto my arms or hands as I touch things, spraying a bunch of Windex, and wiping up ants with paper towels.

Stay on your Side, Mr. Centipde
Every so often, I will see a centipde waltzing around my workout room (the garage). Garage is the best place for them to be, of course. Don't need them waltzing around the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. The first day I saw one when I was exercising, I considered leaving him be right away. Then, as I thought about it more I decided to throw him outside so he wouldn't mysteriously sneak up on me while I was really focused and pounding through my workout.

Another time, I saw one way on the other side up on the wall. I left him alone. Seemed like he would stay on his side. This Tuesday morning was my first morning workout in a week, since I've been sick. I see one within the first few minutes of my workout waltzing along the floorboard in front of me. Hmmm, he's a moving but looks like he's going to stay up against the wall (his side). I sorta see him out of the corner of my eye circle around, but I keep going. Then, here he comes waltzing right up to my sweat towel on the ground one foot in front of me. Alright, Mr. Centipede.... you have officially entered my personal space, and now I have to get rid of you. I don't mind sharing the garage, but you just crossed the line. So, outside he went.

Miss Attitude
I have this one stick thin student who from day one can be sweet, tells me almost every day "Love you Boschen", has given me a few seis, and tries to give a bracelet at least once a week it seems. This same student has spent many a days just falling asleep in my classroom, not always doing work, but trying to do some catch up now. Well, this student was not too happy to hear that our field trip for Thursday wasn't going to be taking place that day. Rolled the eyes, which I've seen before from this particular one. My skinny Miss Attitude. Didn't take it personally but called her out on it, and then there were other students apologizing on her behalf afterward. Sort of gave me an apology before she left class on Monday. Then, she came in to class Tuesday morning, and the first thing she  did was give me a rather sincere apology. She also said she would like to be put on the list for my Saturday trip to the National Park. You got it :-) Miss Attitude can be genuine, a bit of a brown noser at time it seems, kind, and a big help. Oh Miss Attitude - some days I want to kick her out and some days she makes me smile.

Plan? Samoans don't Really Understand that Concept
I knew this coming into moving here that planning really wasn't a highly recognized concept. I had read from previous volunteers that meetings would magically show up during the day, days would be cut short, and people were often late. No worries. Sure, I like to plan some things, but I can go with the flow. Good thing, too. All semester as we've been working on this guest speaker series, some weeks we've been really unsure if a person was actually going to show up until they actually did, particularly the Samoan guests we had come in. Our palagi friends have generally been a bit more of a sure thing. 

I had booked the folks from the National Marine Sanctuary over a month ago to come back this Wednesday to focus more on their careers. Last time they came in, they spoke a lot about what the National Marine Sanctuary is. If you remember from my great experience with that that included a Samoan and a palagi. I had confirmed with both of them a couple times for this week.

Then, I am checking my e-mail during lunch break on Tuesday to find a message that begins, "I really hate to do this the day before we're supposed to come..." Oh great. Just yesterday I was saying  "Thank goodness they're coming this week." Last week was a rather long week. My students were also excited for them to come back. Turns out their boss cut the plug on the day at Tafuna, as they apparently need everyone in the office to get ready for this little special thing going on at the Ocean Center on Saturday. So much for what appeared to be a sure thing. Little bummed, but oh well. Nothing we can do about it. Hannah and I immediately worked on a new plan for our "life experience" lesson for the week. Don't really have anything else prepared, and quite honestly the guest speaker and other little things we have worked into class have been some of the most successful and favorites for the students. We are pretty proud of our little project.

Bread Without Butter
Often times when I walk through the main office at school, someone will have a little food sitting there. Some times they offer me some; some times they nearly shove it down my throat. haha Tuesday I pop in on my way up to the cafeteria for lunch, when one of the counselors says "Jess, come have some locally-made bread." Mmmm, homemade bread. Can't pass that up. Looked delicious. "And there's butter." I told her she didn't need to butter mine. "Oh, there's plenty of butter, and I'll let you do it." She gives me a whole slice, and I give the biggest thanks. I start to walk out, and she and the security head both say, "you have to put butter on it." No, no that's okay. Sure, butter on bread can taste good. I've eaten that way plenty of times in my life, but bread is quite delicious on its own in my opinion. Mmm hmm :-)

I popped into the counselor's office after school to tell her thanks again for sharing. I really enjoyed it. She said there was plenty and I could have taken more. Then, she proceeded to tell me practically her whole life story. Okay, not quite her whole life story. Still, she began to tell me how she was out running some errands on lunch for this reason.... because of this... because of this... because of this. haha Samoans tend to tell you a roundabout answer rather than cutting to the chase. haha Regardless, thanks for the delicious locally made bread. :-)

Listening to a Teenager
One of my really good students will stick around my room some times after school and just chat with me. Mostly, she does a lot of talking and I listen to her. I'm a good listener :-) I throw in a few words here and there. She's really great, but I do find myself analyzing the way a teenager talks about things some times. Man, I was an oddball teenager that really didn't do the whole "teenager phase"... at least I don't think I really did. At least not the stereotypical version. haha She told me how much she's really going to miss me, and she proceeded to add that she knows a bunch of other students will, too, after I'm gone. Even before saying all this, I found myself thinking again how it's ncie to have some students like this - the ones who pay attention and are learning some of the big ideas and more important things that I've been hoping to instill a bit. This student also really enjoyed my no-bake cookies the one day she got to try one and asked about the recipe. I gave it to her, and she was telling me how she made some for her family. They were all amazed about the whole cookies-without-baking part and thought they were good. :-)

Cartoons in Notes
The presentation I had for Monday's class included various little cartoons about littering, funny emotion, and just little things that added a little fun to the presentation. A few times, it seemed like the students were taking rather long on a slide. "Come on you guys, there isn't that much information on this slide." I peeked and noticed some of them were copying the cartoon images. Oh boy. I know they like to draw... and sure, they look nice.... but, they just made me laugh. It wasn't just a few students doing this either, I came to discover as I graded notebooks during my prep period. hahaha These kids... drawing completely unnecessary cartoons in their notebooks. Drawing them really well, though, of course. :-) At least, most... I repeat MOST of them also took some good notes in addition to the drawings. A few may have only focused on the cartoons. *shake head and smile*

Genuine Thanks
One thing I've hoped I've been teaching some of my students this semester is how important I think personal thank-you's are. For almsot every single guest speaker that has come in this semester, we have worked on some thank-you's in a couple different ways. Every time I've tried to re-iterate whey I think they are important. Appreciation is a fine quality to share. Anyways, a handful of students gave me verbal thank-you's after the field trip on Friday. A few gushed about it in their write-up Monday morning. Then, a few even mentioned me in their thank-you's for the NPS on Tuesday. Some are the students I know have been learning from me, and I truly enjoy having in class. Some are ones that surprised me a little, and some are ones I've watched grow as people this year.

I also had my students in those classes that were unable to join us on Friday write about their favorite parts of this class. Many talked about the guest speakers, and some ended by saying how great of a teacher they think  I am and why. Do not think I am trying to toot my own horn by writing any of this here. I don't do anything for recognition. Thank you's are nice to get, but I'm cool without them, too. It's more so the value that I taught them that I can see coming out in their writing and some of their behavior lately. Some of my students really do rock and are going to become great people.

Love My Zumba
One week, three boxes of Kleenex, two bottles of medicine, four liters of juice, gallons of water, days of afternoon exhaustion, hours and hours of rest and sleep, and I finally was back at Zumba. Boy, did I sure miss it. I was still a bit congested on Tuesday, but I successfully woke up right away to my alarm and had my morning workout in, feeling pretty good. I still had most of my energy by the end of the day. No more missing Zumba. May is my last month with this awesome Zumba class. Not even 5 seconds into our warm-up number, and I was grinning ear to ear. Oh, how I love Zumba. Such a fun workout, sweating out calories and impurities from the day, having fun, and making friends while I'm at it. Erica said I actually had some color in my face today and was glad to see me back. She had seen me one day last week (not at Zumba) and saw me pale and sad-looking that day. Felt really good to be back, I told her. The workout felt great. One other lady mentioned she was worried I had left them already as I hadn't been there all last week. I was also chatting with one of my coworkers - Tutuila (a VP at Tafuna) who I usually ride over to Zumba with. She has barely missed any classes from the beginning of the year, just like me. :-)  She wants me to keep in touch, and I made sure to get her e-mail today. Like I said, I have some Zumba friends - our little Zumba community. Yay Zumba!

The End
Alright, that wraps up some "Tales of the Island Teacher". I had this little idea to put my post together this way, so I hope you enjoy it. I also hope your weeks are off to a good start. Hope you guys back home are done with the snow now, as it will be May 1st by the time you read this. Thank you all for reading, by the way. Toodles.


  1. I wish I had as much willpower as you do, to do Zumba! What a great series of posts. I sure hope you are feeling better......

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