Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekend Update

Daylight Savings Time, as I reported earlier, started yesterday in Samoa. Sort of. Things are running about half and half – half new time, half old time. The problem is in determining which is which. My boss said she’d pick me up at 8:30 a.m. yesterday to attend the teachers’ prayer service. I wasn’t sure if that was the “new” time or the old. It was actually 9:;06 – just about half way between new and old. The chartered bus for the teachers passed on her way to my house, so they were operating on “new” time. The church hall in Salelologa was already ¾ full with teachers all dressed in white, trimmed in green, the liturgical color of the month. I found a seat up front with the teachers from my school and my district. While all of the recent teachers’ meetings and my visits to the other schools in my district have taken me out of the classroom, the upside is that I’ve gotten to know a lot of the other teachers and principals better which makes it easier and more fun at events like this. I found out afterwards that at least two other Peace Corps Volunteers were at the event but I didn’t even see them, let alone have time to say hello. I was busy hugging, kissing and chit-chatting with my Samoan teacher friends. We were at the event around 9:30. I thought we’d start at 10:00, as promised. And we did. With us practicing our hymns, while a room packed with teachers listened and some joined in. The minister arrived a bit after 11:00, along with the television cameraman and we got started shortly thereafter. It was a nice service, with the hymns, bible readings, several prayers of over ten minutes each and a sermon. The service ended in traditional Samoan style – a mealofa (gift) for the Ministry. The pastor announced something I wasn’t paying attention to and there was a mad rush of people toward the parking lot. But the teachers around me weren’t moving. What the heck? Plus, I looked out and saw some of the men stripping off their dress shirts. Then the lead SRO got up with the traditional talking stick and from the floor, not the dais, started speaking to the Ministry staff sitting on the dais. As he spoke I realized what was happening. It was time for the teachers to show their respect and love to the Ministry to allowing us to teach. The teachers rushed in with numerous fine mats, trays of crackers and sodas (with cash stuck in the tops of the cans), envelopes filled with cash and what appeared to be a few checks. There were also cases and cases of corned beef, which were carried by the shirtless men. When that was finished, a representative of the Ministry spoke, then the pastor declared “uma” “done” and announced that there was free food being passed out in the parking lot. The room emptied of hundreds of teachers in seconds. The event ended about 1:30 p.m. That’s 1:30 p.m. DST. I asked my boss on the way home what time school would start today. She was surprised and said the regular time. “New time or old time?” “New time!” I got up early this morning to wash my sheets in a bucket. One of my least favorite tasks. It was dark at 6:15 when I got up. It’s now 7:15 and people are just starting to stir. No kids at the school. No kids at the road. Plus, it’s raining, which always mean things start late. I’ll go ahead now and hang my sheets out in the rain and head to school to get started on the copying I have to get finished. I bet I’m the only one there for another hour or so. Island time…

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