Friday, February 3, 2012

General Musings

Flies.  Hundreds of them.  At home, at school, at the market.  I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even bother swatting them off me.  It’s hopeless.  Some say there are so many because of the rain.  Others say it it’s because of all the ripe breadfruit on the trees and the ground.  I don’t know why there are times when we don’t have many flies and other times, like now, when they cover everything, but it’s maddening. 

On the other hand, I haven’t used my mosquito net for the last three nights, which is wonderful.  I don’t know where the mosquitoes have gone but recently just using a coil seems to work, rather than my normal two tiered approach of coil and net.  I hate mosquitoes more than flies, although it’s a close race. 

One of my kids, a boy, seems to have issues at home.  He’s frequently absent for days at a time and always seems to be hungry.  I’ve written about him before.  We got into the habit of him coming to my room each morning before school and I’d slip him some food.  Usually a sandwich of some kind.  He didn’t care what it was and I’ve seen him eat an entire loaf of bread while hardly slowing down to take a breath.

Yesterday he arrived with one flipflop.  He was limping because he had a cut on the foot with no shoe.  I went to my family’s store and bought him a pair of jandals (flipflops).  They cost $10 tala.  I finally got up the nerve to talk to one of the teachers about him, since they’re neighbors.  I’d hesitated because the culture here requires that if a child embarrasses his family, he’s beaten.  Telling me he’s hungry would be wrong because it makes his parents look bad.

It worked out this time, though.  She agreed that there are problems in the home.  His father has a good job but also a drinking problem.  His mother has a gambling issue and if you want to play bingo twice a day you can lose a lot of money here.  I was invited to play bingo once but declined when I found out it was going to cost me $100 the cards.  Too rich for my blood.  I guess I’ll just keep bringing sandwiches to school every day.

Speaking of school, yesterday they announced which classes the teachers will be teaching.  The teachers had just found out the day before.  Then the teachers went to their classrooms to get them cleaned and organized.  I no longer have a classroom, which is a bummer.  I’d asked my boss to use the small room that was recently added on to the hall.  It was to be used for the computer room but it was decided that having the computer on the first floor wasn’t secure enough.
I was told it was too small and I couldn’t hold classes there.  I suggested that I could keep my materials there and teach in the regular classrooms, rotating as I did when I first arrived.  I asked about it again and was told that they would be storing extra furniture (cabinets) in that room.  I asked where I should put my things, since, thanks to generous friends, I’ve accumulated boxes of resource materials, art supplies, stickers, etc.  After much discussion and me getting a bit huffy, I was allowed to haul my stuff into the room.  The teachers even tracked down a couple of benches for me to use.  The room is large enough for me to teach small groups, which I’m hoping to do more of this year.

I explained to the teachers that I’d like to build shelves so I can put all my stuff out.  That way, the other teachers can also use the stuff.  My goal is to have a resource room in place by the time I leave.  I’m also working on having soft copies of materials on the computer. 

The kids were fascinated by seeing me in the room.  At one point there were a couple of dozen kids standing outside, peering in through the screened windows.  I was sitting on a bench, reading.   I suggested they go stare at the new teacher but I guess staring at a palagi you know is more fun than staring at a new Samoan teacher. 

Some of the kids came in and asked to put together the animal jigsaw puzzle.  I don’t believe they’ve ever seen one before.  This one is easy, with about 20 large pieces.  It took 3 Year 8 boys over 15 minutes to put it together.  If you want to send anything, simple, kindergarten jigsaw puzzles would be great.  The kids love them and it’s a good skill builder.

Today is Saturday and I woke up early to the sound of my brother’s alarm.  I listened to the same two lines of a Beyonce song ten times before he finally quit hitting snooze and turned it off.  Because of the rain, it was cool last night and still is this morning.  Heavenly.  So far today I’ve done a bucket of laundry, dusted and swept the floors, changed the sheets and taken a cold shower.  Now I’m heading out to wait for the bus to go to the market.  The routine is back.

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