Thursday, June 14, 2012

Noise and Other Stuff

We’re struggling a bit at school.  Three teachers are at a teachers’ meeting and three either just had babies or are taking time off in preparation for having a baby.  That means four of us to hold down the fort.  I’m teaching Year 6 this week for the teacher who’s staying at home to prepare for her baby. 

I got to school early and spent most of the time before school started upstairs, preparing materials for today.  About ten minutes before school was to start, I headed downstairs to sign in and say hello to the other three teachers.  The radio was on, full blast, playing old American country western tunes.  They were yelling to be heard over the radio. 

A few minutes later, Years 1, 2 and 3 came in for prayer and hymns.  The radio remained on.   The kids had to sing over it.  No one except me seemed surprised or annoyed.    I don’t know if they kept the radio blasting once classes formally began.   While the children were singing and praying, I noticed a distinct bass voice.  It was coming from a six year old girl.  She has a husky, deep voice which sounds like she’s had a two pack a day habit for years to go along with the martinis she must surely guzzle.  She’s tiny and sweet and it’s such a surprise every time she speaks.  Seems she’s spoken that way since she began to talk.

At interval I went down to hang out with the teachers.  The radio, thankfully, was off.  But, the teachers were yelling at kids out on the playground.  And to each other.  I don’t understand that in many cases, it is considered very rude to speak above a whisper and on the bus, people mouth words to each other rather than yell to be heard.  But when speaking to children, in particular, my teachers consistently yell and use a harsh tone of voice.  I’ve found speaking more and more quietly when they are getting out of control tends to get their attention instead of starting a “let’s see who can be loudest” contest, but my approach doesn’t seem to have caught on.  Between the children yelling and playing and the teachers shrieking, my guess is that the decibel level was comparable to a jumbo jet taking off.

Did I mention that in church on Sunday a young girl, maybe four years old, was carrying a television remote control?  I assume she just felt somehow attached to it and perhaps didn’t want to put it down so her mother let her bring it.  Or maybe she thought she could point it at the minister and change things up if the sermon got a little boring.

 Speaking of noise, my family seems to be really making an effort to keep it quieter here.  When I get home, I can generally here someone yelling to turn down the boom box.  I prefer quiet, but also hate to disrupt their lives.  Having a foreign houseguest for two years can’t be easy. 

The weather has been hot and dry so I’m caught up on my laundry, always a good feeling.  Plus, there’s been a consistent sea breeze which helps with the sweat factor.

Buses continue to be more crowded than usual.  I attribute it the number of people in the country from New Zealand and Australia.  Also, because school is back on and the regular buses also serve as school buses.  I HATE being on a crowded bus and seeing 30 high school kids waiting to shove their way on.

The big news of the day is that the reading center is starting late this afternoon, finally.  If all the kids show up who said they were going to show up, we’re going to have a bumper crop.  It says something about how bored the kids are with the long break.  Most of the Year 7 & 8 kids who are supposed to be off this week showed up anyway.  Most seemed to think they could just sit in on my Year 6 class but I shooed them out.  I felt bad about it, but a class of over 50 kids from three grades would have been more of a challenge than I cared to face.  Plus, I spend most of my time with Years 7 & 8 and it didn’t seem fair to have them interrupt my time with Year 6.   We had the reading center yesterday.  I arrived five minutes early but the pastor’s wife has already started by taking roll and explaining how it would work.  She was very disappointed that there were only about 10 kids there.  I was disappointed and very surprised.  Within 15 minutes, though, more had arrived and we ended up with 26.  Not bad for the first day.  The kids got to choose books and read on their own while she, I and the pastor worked individually with each child.  The kids so rarely get that kind of 1 on 1 attention and it makes them glow.  When the pastor’s wife announced that they could choose a book each Wednesday and take it home to read, the kids cheered.  The only book you see in most Samoan homes is a Bible, in Samoan.  All in all a really good start.  I just wish we had started a year ago.

I just heard a slurping sound.  It’s 5 pigs lapping up the little bit of leftover guacamole I threw out.  FYI – pigs love guacamole.  Dogs do not.


  1. I am going to miss reading your blog entries when you are done, which is coming up in around 4 months, right? Yours is the last Samoan blog I have gotten addicted to...I had intended to stop when Matt Leal left Samoa, but yours got me hooked.

  2. Agree with above! I thought Matt was a hard act to beat... But you've definitely hooked me Nancy!

  3. Fa'afetai tele lava, folks. Writing the blog is a great release for me. I try to be balanced, but obviously my palagi bias' creeps in at times. I hope you'll keep reading. BTW, we had 49 at last Friday's reading center and expect more tomorrow evening.