|Year 1 - They "made a circle" and also made Valentines|
|Check out the kid at the right. Think he likes Crayons?|
|Half of Year 7 class|
|The other half of Year 7|
|Year 4. Yeah, they're not competitive and don't like attention.|
Typical Valentine’s Day for me. Flowers delivered at work, chocolates waiting at home and a charming man taking me out to dinner tonight for steaks and a really fine malbec.
Okay, that didn’t happen today. Or last year. Or the year before. Oh hell, now I’m getting depressed. Actually, I’m not because I’ve had a stellar Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s Valentine’s Eve in the States, but we crossed the line here in Samoa back in December.
School was good. I was sent home for being inappropriately dressed. There was a meeting of teachers for Years 1-3 from the schools in our district, held at our school. It started today so I showed up in my best puletasi. The red one that was a gift on my 60th birthday. The only one that doesn’t make me look like a palagi cow.
The other teachers were wearing our uniform puletasis from last year’s Prize Giving. Crap. I shouldn’t zone out in meetings so much, but it’s hard to concentrate on translating in my head for hours at a time and winnowing through what is meaningful to me and what is hyperbole. There’s a lot of that (we call it bs) in Samoan meetings. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of that in American meetings, too.
Anyway, I trudged back through the rain and changed. Was rewarded when I came out of my house the second time when my host dad said I looked very nice. Let’s face it, I looked hot. At least as hot as a 61 year old fat woman can look while wearing a skin tight outfit made of fabric that would be more appropriate as upholstery for a sofa in a cheap B&B in Key West.
I began the morning with 54 kids for the first hour. I started using my discipline system this week and it worked like a charm. They are in teams and can earn negative or positive points, based on behavior. At the end of the week, the team with the most positive points wins a prize – usually stickers, tattoos or special puzzles. If no teams have negative points, everyone gets a prize.
Year 8 was used to it from last year but it was new for Year 7. They ate it up. Hopefully, the novelty will last for awhile because it’s nice to teach, not just control the crowd. It helped that we also had a contest today. I’m still amazed that we were told in training that Samoans are not competitive and having them perform alone would freak them out. So not true. Samoans I know, children and adults, will compete for anything and they LOVE to stand out in a crowd.
I had Year 4 for a couple of hours and we did some English and some art. They made Valentines. Their teacher is on sabbatical so another teacher is covering their class and her own class. No mean feat. She was thrilled to offload them for a couple of hours and they were thrilled with the attention. And the art. I have never seen a Samoan teacher do any kind of arts or crafts, not even coloring for the little kids and they love it. Unlike the USA, these kids don’t have crayons and coloring books at home. Being given the materials to make something and then being told it’s beautiful sends them over the moon. Now if I can just get the little buggers to always put the caps back on the markers.
My principal gave me a ride to Salelologa so I could get there before the bank closed. It was nice that he asked me again to stay for a third year.
I was going to the bank to pay for my dial up internet. I have to make a deposit to the account of the internet provider. Paying online would be so much more convenient, what with it being an internet service and all, but that’s not an option.
After the bank I stopped by the grocery store where I held up the line trying to find out the correct price of a bag of frozen shrimp. I’d tried to buy some last week but at the checkout they said it was $25 (for less than a pound). I double checked the sign this time. Yes, $9.30 for the package I had. But it rang up again as $25. After involving four employees they determined their sign was incorrect and the shrimp I wanted was $21. No shrimp for me. I haven’t eaten a shrimp since September, 2010.
Then I headed to the post office. I hadn’t gotten any mail the last three weeks and didn’t have high hopes. But there was a card and a package! They were both from my boyfriend Ralph. And ML, his wife, who’s also my BFF and who I’m sure is the one who shopped and wrapped the stuff, although I’m confident my Ralph took it to the PO. The box was filled with love in the form of candy, green chiles and ranch style beans. Do my friends know me or what? There was a Valentine’s Day card in the box and I’m very impressed that they figured out a way to have me get it on Valentine’s Day.
Especially impressive since the card was the Christmas photo card that they’d sent in November. As much as I love the box of goodies, the card is more special because it is a photo of their whole family, including ML’s mom, a sweet woman and friend who passed away recently. She shared her baked goodies and recipes with me and I’ll miss her. Before I leave Samoa I plan to teach some friends here to make pierogies, in her honor. I think breadfruit and taro pierogies could catch on here.
Caught the bus home and had a bench to myself. A nice breeze and a box of love on my lap. Icing on the cake was seeing the huge sow sauntering down the road with a tin can over her snout. She did not seem the least bit bothered by it. I wish I had that kind of aplomb.
I may not be having steak tonight and there is no charming man to dine with but I’m feeling the love and having a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
I asked my kids what they call Valentine’s Day here. They couldn’t say since it’s not something they’d heard of. We named it Aso Alofa – Love Day .
Manuia le Aso Alofa – Happy Love Day tomorrow in America!