Friday, November 25, 2011

Prize Giving and Summer Vacation

Prize Giving is a big day.  I’ve seen mini versions after the first two terms.  The teachers make a speech and read not only the rank of each student in the class but also their total score for the term.  Great for the top students, not so great if your kid ranks 42 out of 42 and made 28 out of 500 points.

I’ve been told I’m expected to make a speech, in Samoan, at next week’s event.  I’m semi prepared.  I have a speech and I’ve practiced, but it needs work.  Really, when you see a word like “fa’aaloalo” in a sentence doesn’t it cause you to pause and consider how to pronounce a word with three consecutive a’s?

The top five students for each class are given prizes (hence the name Prize Giving).  The prizes are for the parents of the students.  Mugs, plastic trays and pitchers are what was delivered to the school this week.  I will be asked to take photos of the top students.  There is not a doubt in my mind that at some point I will be expected to get up and do a traditional Samoan dance.  I’ve repeatedly asked teachers to teach me how to do a “real” Samoan dance and they just laugh.

 “Just do what you learned when you were a little girl.”

“But I never was a little Samoan girl.”  I can’t dance but will do my best to be entertaining, if not authentic.

After prize giving, the kids are on summer vacation but teachers have another week for planning for the following year.  I suspect there will be a lot of food and very short days.

When school is out, I’m taking a road trip around Upolu with a couple of the other volunteers.  It should be very exciting since I’ve gotten permission to rent a car so we can drive around.  When I say exciting I mean I haven’t driven a car since October 4, 2010 and then it was on the opposite side of the road as here.  I’m getting insurance with the rental car.

I’ll be back in Savaii for a couple of weeks in December where I’ll continue to try to drum up interest in the customer service training I offered to do for resort staff.  Only one resort has expressed real interest and I’m not sure if that was real interest or Samoan interest.  Time will tell.

For the holidays I’m heading to Auckland.  I’ll be spending Christmas on a dairy farm with a family I met when they stayed in my village on vacation.  Then one of my closest friends is joining me for a week in Auckland.  I think she’s a tiny bit worried that all I’ll want to do is eat spicy ethnic food, hang out in grocery stores and watch the washer and dryer in the serviced apartment we’re renting.   It’s a legitimate concern.

In early January we’ll head to Savaii to spend a week as tourists.  I’m looking forward to showing her my world.    Having her here will also help me transition back into rural life here.  Plus I’ll be happy to have another person who’s visited, so when I mention something about my life here, they’ll be able to picture it too.

At the end of January we have training in Apia for a few days, followed by the start of school.   I’ll be working in the evenings with my church next year to run a reading program.  Last time they did it they had 50 kids enrolled.

I think I know how things are going to work in 2012, since I’ve taught here for a full school year, but I bet I’m surprised.    That seems to be a constant in my life here.

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