Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WT AmSam Newsletter: Volume and Issue ONE!

– Happy Wednesday! I should be saying that in Samoan but I can't remember how to say Wednesday. I'm not accomplishing my goal of learning the language. AH! Must start studying it again.

Waaayyy back when in Orientation (feels like forever ago), our Field Director, Drew, asked the group if anyone would be interested in writing/putting together a newsletter each month for the group and for the WT home office. I volunteered right away - newsletters and writing are right up my alley.

I finished the first issue this past weekend and now that it's been posted on the WT website, I can share it with you: WT AmSam September Newsletter

Manuia le aso!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday.

Oh what a day this has been. What a day indeed. I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had lots of green veggies, and I've had some sore legs.

For some reason, all it's done the past week is RAIN. Rain, rain, rain. It rains at 3 a.m. and is so loud I feel that my house is going to wash away. It rains at 5:30 a.m. when I wake up, and I like to just lay in bed a few extra minutes and listen to it. And then it rains at 7:35 a.m. right as I'm finishing my walk to school. Oh wait, and then it continues to rain all day so all my kids come to class looking like wet dogs. WHAT THE RAIN IS GOING ON? The sad thing is, we're not even in the rainy season yet! Pretty soon I'm gonna be one of those wet dogs when I come to school.

Anyways, my day started with rain. Upon my arrival at school, I had to pick up some test booklets for the SBA (no idea what it stands for) tests that the sophomores took today and take again tomorrow. I got a donut though so that made it worth it. From 8:30-10:15, the sophomores took the test. I walked around while they filled in bubbles, and that was that. Nothing too interesting.

Then the downs started. While the sophomores were taking their tests, the rest of the school was in the gym practicing cheers for 90 minutes. What does this mean? Every single one of my students was HYPER and BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS. Oyy vay. For the next two hours, I had one heck of a time trying to keep my kids quiet. Wheeewie. I was a trooper though and I got through it. Even though my two worst students still pushed my buttons, I wasn't about to let them completely ruin my day.

[Let's have a side note here to talk about my two worst students.] I am probably the least confrontational person you will ever meet. I don't get angry and if something does bother me, I keep it inside and let it go. I'm more of a "whatever" kind of person. I'm not good at confronting people when they do something that erks me. I just can't do it. Being a teacher in American Samoa is forcing me to become confrontational, and while I know that it is necessary, I am not enjoying it one bit. In fact, it's probably the biggest struggle that I've had on island. In my first period, I've got 2 kids, one boy and one girl, who are not fun. In fact, they really make me angry. The boy think's he's tough and the girl thinks she's a queen bee. The boy refuses to do any work in class, and the girl is constantly talking back to me. Last Friday, she just walked out of class after I told her that I was going to send her to the office if she didn't stop talking back to me. I gave her a zero on her quiz and her homework. When I handed back those assignments today, she gave me attitude. "UHH MISS. Why do I have a zero?" Blah Blah Blah. Either way, I REFUSE to let these two immature kiddos to get in my way, especially when I have 100+ others who make me smile 99 percent of the time. [Sidenote complete.] 

After three periods, lunch time rolled around and it was the first meeting for the junior class advisors. Someone said that there would be food. I was expecting canned ham and who knows what else but boy was I wrong. The Home Ec teacher had her students cook for us! I got to eat baked chicken stuffed with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, some sort of pasta salad, and even cake and ice cream for dessert. I ate like a queen! That was an UP to my day.

The rest of my day went just like it had in the morning. Kids wouldn't calm down. Then my fifth period came in and oh how I LOVE them. I literally love them. I've got a kid named Cavey who just makes me smile whenever I see him. Today Cavey asked, "Why do palagi's like to suntan?" I kind of thought about it for a minute. "You know Cavey, I don't really know. I guess we just like to have a sunkissed glow! But we wear sunscreen so we don't get burned." He responded, "I think palagi's just want to be brown." He's just so darn cute.

After school, I was happy to see the kids leave for the day. Ending with 6th period is always hard as they are also a trouble class. I then swept my room (I had about 50 gigantic dust/dirt/garbage piles. Gross.) and then meandered down to the gym for the boys volleyball game. I was never a big volleyball fan at home but I've been to two of the boys games now and I am loving it! We played Nu'uuli VoTech (where I stayed for Orientation) today and we whooped them!

The rest of my night has been good. Abby and I did a P90X video when we got home. I'm gonna be sore tomorrow. Then I made a delicious green dinner. A tuna salad wrap with romaine and cucumber, some fresh broccoli and even a green pepper! Green veggie heaven.

I hope all of your Mondays were just as unique as mine. Much alofa.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Only in AmSam...

...do chickens actually cross the road.

...do boys wear "skirts". As you know by now, the traditional wear for a girl and woman is the puletasi (the fitted top and the longer sarong type skirt called a lava lava). For a boy and man, the traditional wear is an i'e (ee'ay) which is a shorter version of the lava lava that buckles around the waist. They then wear a button up shirt on top. I think that guys in the U.S. should start wearing "skirts" - I find it to be a very attractive look.
This is one of my closest friends here. His name is Mavaega (Mah-vah-eng-ah) and he is adorable in every way. Seeing him is usually the highlight of my day. He lives right behind our house so he's always calling out my name to come out and play. He also loves to sing and I often hear him singing to himself. I snapped this photo of him before he left for school one morning. He is wearing his school's uniform, but also the traditional wear for a man and boy.

...is it normal for stray dogs to run on to the field during the football games. Just this past Friday in our game against Tafuna, three different dogs ran onto the field as the game was going on. If this were to happen in the USA, people would go crazy...people don't even seem to notice here. I did see one of our boys scare one dog away, which made me laugh really hard because it was just so crazy!

...have I gained a respect for R&B and Rap music. That's all they listen to in AmSam, but instead of the normal songs, they turn them into reggae and techno remixes. I've said this before but I'll say it again: riding the 'aiga buses is one of my favorite things to do. There is honestly nothing better than getting on a bus with open windows and reggae/rap/island music blasting out of the speakers. Yesterday I heard a Samoan remix of "I've got a feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas...only this version was in Samoan. It was sooo good.

 This video is the song that made all the WTers truly fall in love with AmSam music. Like Justin Bieber? I swear that after listening to this song, you'll never go back to the Biebs again. All this little Samoan kid did was change "baby" to "teine" and he had a top hit. Teine means pretty little girl in Samoan.

...do I turn into a Mom.  This past football game, several Leone kids on the varsity team got hurt to the point where the trainers and coaches all had to rush out on the field. It wasn't until about five minutes after the first injury did I realize that I had been sitting completely still with my eyes wide open and my heart beating five million miles an hour staring at the injured player. The game had continued on, but my eyes had been glued on the kid - "Was he one of mine? Is he okay?" HA! I'm such a Mom now! Most of my favorites (shhh don't tell the other kids!) are on the varsity team and I love them. If they were to get hurt really bad I would feel awful!

...do kids walk around with quarters in their ears. The first time I saw a student with a quarter in his ear, I thought it was a hearing aid. Nope, it was just 25 cents chillin' in his ear. Why? The kids don't have pockets in their uniforms to carry around their bus fare (students only pay a quarter) so they put it in their ears. HAHAHA. How hilarious is that? Now it's completely normal for me to see most of my students with their ears full of change.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Teaching English and learning Samoan

When I was younger, many years before I studied abroad in New Zealand, I always told myself that I never wanted to visit a country where English was not the first language. At that time in my life, I wasn’t interested in travel and I was more of a homebody. For those of you that do travel, you know that once you go abroad, you don’t ever want to stop. Following my semester in NZ, I caught the travel bug and when I started thinking about other places I would like to visit, I noticed that almost all of the countries on my list were not English speaking countries.  Now that I am living and teaching in a place where almost everyone is an English language learner, I am constantly amazed at the strength, desire, and work it takes for people to speak to me in English.
Most of my 100+ students have an extensive English vocabulary. They can carry on conversations that I have started, as well as start conversations with me.  This is a relief as I was expecting (prior to coming here) most of my students to be at low speaking levels.  Every morning before first period, and usually between classes, I stand outside my door and greet all the students that walk by. It’s one of the highlights of my day because the overall Samoan culture is so friendly. Everyone wants to say hello and smile when they see me. We all know that in the USA, people are more prone to turn their heads or to look down when passing someone. That is not the case in AmSam.  But the funny thing is, (and this is a tangent off my English topic), high school boys are the same here as they are everywhere else. For some reason, whenever the boys say hi (and they are in a group), they start to giggle and playfully hit each other after they pass me. I find it hilarious. I've also got boys who aren't my students that like to tell me they love me as they run by my classroom. I just yell back "no you don't!" and I hear them hyena laughing as they keep running. But back to my original point – not all of my students can speak English well. In the second week of school, I had to have 2 girls transferred out of one of my mainstream classes because they did not understand a word I was saying. I would say something to them and they would look down at their desks. That alone was a sign to me that they needed to be in an English class with an instructor that could teach in both English and Samoan.
Then I’ve got the kids who speak at a “middle” level of English. They understand the majority of what I say, but if they don’t get something, they’ll speak to each other in Samoan to figure it out. I can always tell when they do this because they’ll get a puzzled look on their face, turn to someone who understood what I said, and ask them a question. This doesn’t bother me because I know that I can’t explain everything in a way that everyone can understand. Teaching English to speakers of other languages is not an easy task but it is rewarding in many, many ways.
The word “fabulous” has somehow popped its way into my vocabulary and I find myself saying it often, especially when I am checking my kids’ work. One day last week, I was looking over an assignment we were doing in class and as I stopped by each desk, I’d say fabulous as I checked it. I never really got a reaction, but at the same time, I wasn’t expecting one. Out of nowhere, one of my sweet but extremely quiet students said, “Miss Quinn, what does fabulous mean?” It caught me by complete surprise and I thought to myself, how could he not know what fabulous means? When I told him why I say it, he and many other students in the class went “Oh! We thought it meant that we were doing something wrong.” WHOA.  Like I said, I learn something new every day. The lesson I learned was that I have to slim down my vocabulary here…no more big fancy English words (unless I have time to explain them). But either way, at least my kids now know what fabulous means…J
Being a native English speaker doesn’t always make my life easy either. My Samoan speaking level is very low. I can say a few basic phrases and I can catch my students saying swear words (that totally caught them by surprise!) but other than that, I really have no idea what’s going on when I’m sitting in school meetings and they are spoken about 75% in Samoan. As frustrating as it can be, it’s also kind of fun to just sit back and listen. This past Sunday, I went to church for the first time, and for an hour and a half, I listened to an entire sermon in Samoan. The pastor spoke a total of three minutes in English, and as I was sitting there, I suddenly heard the word Jesus, which snapped me out of a daze. I remember thinking to myself, HEY! That’s ENGLISH! But as soon as I was able to start understanding, he went right back to Samoan. I really enjoy listening to the language and I hope that throughout the rest of my time here, I can learn a bit more of it.
Outside of speaking, one of the top things that I love about living in AmSam is listening to the Samoans sing. Every single person on this island can sing (except me) and their voices are beautiful. The very first time I heard them sing was during orientation. When the WTers were giving our lessons to a few high school students, they sang a song for us, and that short two minute song will be engrained in my mind for the rest of my life.  It was so overpowering and incredible that I had to look down at my desk to keep myself from bursting into tears. I was stunned. Now that I am teaching, I get to hear them sing every single day. In the first few minutes of first period, a student in my class will stand up and lead the class in a song and then a prayer. Every day. I just sit at my desk and let it all soak in. I’m going to record it sometime soon and if it will load onto Youtube, hopefully you can hear it too. It’s magical.
In other news, I had my first Social Committee meeting today. Remember that I was chosen to be the English Department Representative. HA! Well anyways, once again, I somehow became the secretary for the overall committee. I’m telling you what people, I’m still having a hard time saying no. It’s so darn hard for me! But in this case, I wasn’t even asked, I was just told. “Okay, Quinn, you’re our secretary!” Ok. Fabulous?
The weather the past few days has been bizarre. It’s been COLD! I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night freezing. Last night I actually had to shut one of my windows. What the heck! I thought I lived on a tropical island? The funny thing is, it’s probably only 70 degrees at 1 a.m.  
For those of you that are my friends on facebook, you might have noticed my recent status update about getting attacked by dogs on a run. I figured I would fill you in on the whole story. As I was running down the road that I take to get to school, 3 dogs came running down a driveway and started barking and snapping at my feet. I was “halu”-ing as loud as I could, and as I bent down to try to pick up an invisible rock, a fourth dog came running at me. I was cornered! YAAAY. Long story short, I didn’t get bit, and I just hopped around yelling and kicking them (I know, I know, sounds so bad, but you’d kick too if dogs were trying to bite you!) until they finally cowered and ran away. It wasn’t until I kept running that I realized that my heart hadn’t even skipped a beat. The hair on my arms had not stood up. I laughed out loud to myself because I had just gotten attacked by four dogs and I hadn’t even gotten scared! What has happened to me? I must be turning into a Samoan. Fabulous?
Food update: I’m still eating. Tonight I got extra creative and baked a marinara tofu casserole thing. I don’t really know what it was, but what I do know is that it was delicious. I am being forced to learn how to cook here and I’m loving every minute of it!
Happy Friday! Let’s hope that the Leone Lions can actually catch the ball at the big game against Tafuna High School tomorrow…
Much alofa (love)!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My cute little house!

When we moved in, our house wasn't cute because they were doing construction on it. Now that the construction is done, it looks so adorable and sunny! Our teacher friends think it looks like a church?

This is our living room. We have a TV but we never turn it on.

The dining room/internet cafe (we only get internet in the kitchen?). One night this part of the house was swarming with termites. It was DISGUSTING. I was using my roomie Amber's massive fly swatter to kill them all. DIE TERMITES DIE!

Our kitchen! We are lucky to have a stove and oven. All the other volunteers just have burners that sit on their counters. We also have a coffee pot and a microwave - both of which I use every single day.

Hurray! Food! All I do is eat and I LOVE it. All this walking and teaching and running away from dogs makes me hungry 24/7. You'll also notice all the water on the door. We have to boil it because who knows what's in the tap water. Ew.

Our hallway. Amber's bedroom is on the right, Abby's on the left.

My massive bedroom. It's the entire back of the house. Doesn't look very big in this pic, but there's a lot of space behind where I am standing.

Room from the opposite side. I've got a pile up of skirts on the right - not enough hangers!

Stuff!

Abby and I's bathroom. I killed a MASSIVE spider on our sink at 5:30 a.m. one morning. I had a tiny heart attack as I ran around the house trying to figure out how to kill it. During my freak out, I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of it (well, Mom did tell me to document everything!) but our sink has mold on it and it WILL NOT COME OFF, so I won't gross you out with the mold/Shelob size spider picture.

It's so nice to shower in an actual shower and not out of a faucet like we did at orientation. Our water pressure is so low that it takes 5 hours just to get my hair wet, but hey, I'm not complainin'!

The back door to our house is in my room. I look out at a jungle. Sweet.

This is the view from our front door. The main road is out there...somewhere.

This is to the left of our house - our landlords Moana and Mel live here.

This is the fale Samoa (meeting/guest house) where the Purcell's (our landlords) have meetings. The hammock is also a new addition - I used it a few Sunday's ago and it was FABULOUS!

Our house has a wrap around porch - LOVE it. We've got clotheslines that wrap around it too. Also, having this porch blocks the rain from coming in our house so we never have to shut the windows!!

Our lemon tree in the front yard!

Our lime tree in the front yard!

Our breadfruit tree in the front yard. That blue shed over to the left is the start of the little mart that we have for "I need this right now" purchases (like ice cream!)

A breadfruit. My favorite Samoan food so far...and it's my favorite color. Even better! You peel off the green layer, and then cook the inside in the umu...so delicious. Tastes like a potato (kind of).

Monday, August 22, 2011

You can dance if you want too...in front of an entire school!

This past Friday was Leone HS’s “Welcome Back Assembly.” This, of course, took precedence over classes for the day. All the students were itching to get out of the classroom, and I too, was ready for the weekend. After three 30 minute classes, the entire school piled into the gym (which is outside – it has no walls!) for the big event.  The Principal, VP, and some alumni from 1986 all spoke before the fun, and when I say fun, I mean FUN! The teachers sat in front of all the students and after all the speeches, we got the party started. Literally.  One of the VP’s, Viper, introduced the entire faculty and staff, and while doing so, students placed fresh, handmade lei’s – straight out of the garden, around our necks. In AmSam, lei’s are called ula’s. As a teacher was announced, students would cheer and we would wave to the crowd. Imagine if they did that in the U.S.? The ula’s were brought in by all the students. The more ula’s you brought in, the more points your class got for the overall class competition. After the introduction, Viper called all of the new teachers down from the bleachers and well, made us dance. Music blasted out of speakers, and we boogied. I, of course, HATE being the center of attention, but thought to myself, “what the heck.” I let loose and took over that gym, and boy was it fun! After the assembly was over, all I heard for the rest of the day was “Great dance Miss!” “You were awesome!” “I loved your dance, Miss Quinn!” HA! My moves obviously made an impact. The dancing was just what I needed, and I think it loosened me up for the year to come.  Many students also told me that they caught the whole thing on video. We’ll see if I can somehow get a copy of it! J
I finally got a picture of myself in my classroom!

These are some of the juniors and freshmen. The students have to wear uniforms to school here.

Some of the freshmen from my VIP spot on the bleachers.

 Amber, Abby, our Principal Haili, and myself after the assembly.

I walked home from school with these handsome little men. The two on the left, Kolio and Malaki, are my neighbors and my little BFF's.

A shot of my hand woven ula up close - so pretty and it smelled amazing!

Later that night, Abby and Amber (my roomies) and I headed to the only stadium on island…it was FOOTBALL NIGHT! Leone was playing Samoana, a high school where three other WTers are placed, and we were ready to watch some of our students play.  We had found some Leone t-shirts at one of the marts so we were decked out in school spirit. I am not a big fan of football. I don’t really understand the game or care about it in general, but I was still excited. Leone ended up losing both JV and Varsity. We played awful, but I’m still a believer – I know they will pull through!
Our stadium faces mountains on one side and the ocean on the other - not bad! You might also notice that there is a track around this stadium. I am going to help coach track and I am STOKED. Too bad it's at the end of the year...so far away still!

 The Leone HS motto is "Unity is Strength." What a better way to live through that phrase than by holding your teammates hands. It was so gosh darn cute.
Even the Varsity held hands - so precious. Even though they lost, they kept their chins up!

Flash forward to Saturday morning. I was up bright and early for ZUMBA! My friend Khoa and I got free tickets to a fundraiser so we thought we’d give it a try. While I had heard of Zumba, I didn’t know anything about it. Turns out, it’s super crazy awesome FUN! For two straight hours (with only one break that lasted 2 minutes) Khoa and I boogied along with a ton of Samoans. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Khoa and I looked like complete morons, but we were having a blast. We salsa’d, shook our booties, ran around in a line, and did all sorts of crazy moves. It was HILARIOUS! What a great day to spend my morning, and by the time we were through, it was only 10:15!
It ended up being a gorgeous, sunny day in AmSam, so myself, Khoa, my roomie Abby, and our friend Allison took full of advantage of it and hiked out to Airport Beach. It’s called that because it is literally behind the airport. You start out in Fogagogo (try saying that in Samoan – it took me about a month to finally get all the vowels: fohngahngohngoh. Whew.) and you follow a road that eventually leads to the ocean. From there, the rest of the walk is on lava rocks, complete with beautiful blow holes and stunning views of the water. We saw lots of crabs scurrying around, and even some Samoan fishermen. After a 20 minute or so hike, we ended up at a teensy tiny beach. It was high tide when we got there so the beach space was very limited. Remember that in AmSam, white, sandy beaches are basically non-existent – instead they are broken coral and shells. Within 10 minutes, we were in the water, snorkeling till our hearts were content. We spent about 2 hours in the water, which felt great. It had been a long time since I was able to go swimming, and the water was at the perfect temperature.  I saw some amazing fish and Khoa even saw a barracuda! I left the beach with some sun on my face- something that felt so good!
All in all, I had a great weekend. I was also able to get some grocery shopping in – this week’s steal was a couple heads of broccoli and some frozen chicken fillets. Woo hoo!
For those of you that go back to school this week – have a great first day and for those of you still on summer break, go hang out by the pool. J

My first view of the ocean when we got off the road. Sweet.

Wave!

Looking back as we walked. I'd like to live in that house.

Airport on the left. Khoa in the middle. Ocean on the right.

 This wasn't the beach we hung out at. The water was too shallow to snorkel.

Dead coral. I thought it was pretty.

Snorkeling is awesome. Seriously.

Check out that beauty up near the top left.

Stumbled upon some weird, straight fish.

Best find of the day!

Yep, I live here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photos on a Thursday

This is the trunk of a Banyan Tree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banyan) aka the Massive Tree

This, my friends, is the Samoan delicacy. It's quite expensive so they use it for their most special occasions.

A passion fruit! Not ripe yet...

The same passionfruit a few days later...absolutely delicious!

My 6th period is full of little punks. They think they're so smooth...talking when I tell them to be quiet. Yelling. Being rude. Last week when we did the lesson on respect, this is what they wrote. They clearly don't understand what being respectful means. I'm surprising them with a seating chart today. Muahaha! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It was just another manic Monday...

I woke up with a cold this morning. Bummer. Not a great start to my second week of teaching, but hey, at least it's not Dengue! The only way I can really explain my day to you is by timeline. Enjoy:

5:30 a.m. : Alarm number 1 goes off. I close my eyes for a few minutes.

5:34 a.m. : Alarm number 3 goes off. Time to get up.

5:34 - 7:15 a.m. : Get ready for school, have my coffee, Skype/facebook/email, eat breakfast

7:20 a.m. : Head out the door - time to go to school!

7:20-7:40 : Walk to school, say hi to the old lady I see every day, get honked at, get muddy feet

7:40-8:25: Set up classroom for the day: arrange desks, write on my chalkboard, pick up the daily bulletin

8:30something: Bell rings

8:30something - 10:15: 1st and 2nd periods - we played Jeopardy in all my classes today (start of my assessment week to see what kind of learners my students are and to find out what level they are with reading, writing, listening, and speaking).

10:15-10:35 : Class meetings - I'm a Junior class advisor. All the Juniors meet in the cafeteria where they practice their awesome clapping and cheers (I can't WAIT to video record this - it sends chills up my spine!)

10:40-12:15: 3rd & 4th Periods (I had to "babysit" during my prep period again - this time for two freshmen English classes - once again, two more English teachers were out. WHAT THE HECK, PEOPLE? Thankfully the freshies were adorable and sweet.)

12:15-1:15: Lunch and English department meeting - I get chosen to be the Social Committee Representative. Um what? I will now be deciding what social events the English staff will be doing every month - "Just make sure it involves food." ME? I have to do this? This was not my idea. 
  
1:15-3:00: 5th and 6th Periods ...and the craziest part of my day occurs during the last 10 minutes of the day. I'm reading a Jeopardy answer to one of the groups when I happen to look at one of my shelves where I keep the kiddos journals. I see a bucket (the kind that ice cream comes in) and think to myself, "That's weird? Where did that come from?" I go over to the bucket and attempt to lift it up and YELP. Why did I yelp? There was a KITTEN in the BUCKET in my CLASSROOM! A teensy tiny, beautiful, little ball of fluff. I immediately started asking questions - where did it come from? why is there a kitten, in a bucket, in my classroom? Apparently one of my students "found it" on the school grounds. I don't know if that's true - I have no idea where he would have gotten the bucket from. Anyways, I proceed to cuddle with the kitten, completely forgetting that I'm supposed to be teaching. Oops. Then the bell rings, and the kid leaves the kitten (I actually kept the kitten because I was worried that something bad would happen to it). Then I realize that I can't take care of a kitten! I ended up finding a student to take it home. It's out of my conscience now. But fo realz, SO WEIRD!

The rest of my day consisted of cleaning up my classroom, finding a CUCUMBER at the mart by my house, and eating a delicious dinner of brown rice (yes Mom I cooked RICE and I didn't burn it!), black beans, and cucumber, sprinkled with fresh lime juice right off the tree.

Was your day as crazy as mine?!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A weekend of mea'ai...

In the Samoan language, the word for food is mea’ai. This past weekend, I’m sure I gained about 10 pounds due to the limitless amount of mea’ai that I have consumed (and I’m still going…it’s only Sunday morning!)
On Friday afternoon, my roommate Abby and I left school and hurried home to change out of our teacher clothes and grab our wallets – we were headed to the grocery store! This had been the one thing that we had both looked forward to all week long. The small stores by our house are only good for “I need this right now” purchases, and we were aching for some fresh produce and other necessities to fill up our fridge.  Getting to the stores we wanted to visit is a long process when you don’t have a car on island.  We had to take two buses both ways and it was almost 4:00 by the time we left. Buses stop running at 6:00, which meant that we had two hours to take two buses, visit two stores, and take two buses home.  We were about to try our hand at speed shopping.
Our first stop was at Cost-U-Less (not an ideal store to visit when you’re on a tiny budget), but we splurged on some pepperjack cheese, a 10 pack of Starkist tuna, and I got some more coffee. Total shopping time: 10 minutes.
Stop number two was K.S. Mart. Apparently this was the place for all American Samoans to be at that time. I was instantly stressed the minute we walked through the door. We only had about 20-30 minutes to shop, and that alone was not enough for me to spend my time drifting through all the aisles. There were people everywhere and I kept bumping carts with Samoans. I left with some goodies though: tortillas, baby carrots (a $1.50 steal!), brown rice, black beans, oranges, apples, kiwi’s, peanut butter, ingredients for eggplant lasagna – thanks Terrie! (but then I forgot to get the eggplant…oops), cheap toilet paper, paper towels, soap to keep in my drawer at school (they don’t have soap or tp in bathrooms at Leone HS – ew!) and a loaf of fresh baked bread. I was a happy camper. Piling onto two buses was a little difficult with two big bags of food, but I managed to get home in one piece and I think only one kiwi got squished. Whew!
By the time we got home, Abby and I were starving…and that’s when the mea’ai eating started. I cut some fresh bread and ate it with my pepperjack cheese….and then I fixed myself some buttered noodles with tuna and frozen veggies.  Immediately after, Abby and I decided to bake a cake, so we did, and ate quite a lot of it…but we still weren’t done. Later on in the night, we ended up at a “palagi party” (aka a bunch of white people hanging out at a house) where the WTers gorged ourselves on free food (we’re starving volunteers here, people!).  It was someone’s going away party and there was cake, so I of course had more cake. I left the palagi party with sleepy eyes and a full belly.
Saturday ended up being one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days that I’ve had on island. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a branch here because they are still helping with the development and building of houses that got destroyed by the tsunami that struck AmSam in 2009 (I think I’ve failed to mention that on this blog…oops. I’ll save that for another post.) Anyways, some FEMA workers were having a get together for some of their workers and for the WTers. The party started at 1:00 and Abby and I had time to kill, so we took one bus, and then walked the rest of the way. Total walking time: 1 hour and 3 minutes. By the time we reached the house, we were so sweaty, dirty, and exhausted. Thank goodness this house had a pool! The rest of the day was spent swimming (in our swimsuits!! – no Samoan’s around!), sipping pina coladas and margaritas, and devouring delicious, fresh food. We had fruit salad with papaya, oranges, apples, and strawberries to start off the snacking. Then we had cheeseburgers, homemade potato salad, and a romaine salad with veggies for lunch. Snack time came around and we had pizza. Later I ate a second lunch for dinner and then the host brought out a massive plate of pasta with fresh tomato, mushrooms, capers, and more. I was in mea’ai heaven for all 7 hours that I was there. It was such a beautiful, sunny day, and there is nothing to complain about when you’ve got great food, friendship, and beautiful scenery surrounding you.
The pool had a BRIDGE!

Did I mention that the house was basically a mansion? In AmSam? Pretty rare...


Heidi, Melinda, and I enjoying the water - that's a passionfruit plant behind us!

It was delicious.

Today is Sunday. Already I’ve eaten an orange, 2 slices of peanut butter toast, a piece of cake, and umu food (fish in coconut milk, breadfruit – my favorite!, taro with chicken in coconut milk, and coconut milk bread). It’s not even noon yet.
Life is good in AmSam. I can’t wait to see what this week brings in school, food, and fun! Have a great week as well – I am missing you all and I hope that the weather is cooling down for you. Malo!