My minister and his wife asked me last year to help with a reading/homework center. I was thrilled. Then disappointed as the centers kept being postponed because of rehearsals for a major event. Finally, we’re underway.
Wednesday we had 26 kids. A bit disappointing but it’s the first week of term and the school had a lot of absences, too. Today, we had 49 kids. They ranged in age from 5-15 and came from all five sub-villages.
Walking to the session, about ½ mile away, became a parade. First I was alone. Then I heard screams from behind. Kids from the farthest sub-village were running to catch up with me. Well, at least the younger kids were. The “too cool for school” early teens were sauntering. The girls took turns carrying my bag and holding my hands.
We passed some people building a new beach fale and a woman asked where I was going (she ignored the fact that I was surrounded by an entourage of 16 adoring children). I told her we were going to read at the fale of the minister. English reading. She yelled to her son to get out of the ocean and go.
I mistakenly assumed he’d race home, grab a quick shower, throw on some dry clothes and then join us. That’s palagi thinking for you. Nope, he did it Samoan style. Dripping wet, with a big smile, he joined the parade. Since we swim in our clothes here, and he had time to drip dry a bit during the rest of the walk it all worked out.
I worked on phonics and sight words with the youngest kids. I listened to a year 9 girl read a story, in English, to the rest of the kids. It was a blast. This is exactly why I joined Peace Corps.
By the way, I arrive at school between 7 and 7:15. I teach until 2:00, usually. Now on Wednesdays and Fridays I’ll have homework center for the high school kids from 2:00 – 4:00 then reading from 4:00 to 6:00. Can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.