AmSam is the place to go if you are looking for the most random/weird/crazy things to see or discover. Every day, heck, every hour, something new happens that completely blows me away. Some things make me laugh and some things make me sad. That’s life though, right? Not everything can make you smile. Let’s do some bullet points (Cousin Clare and I share a love for them!)
· When I was in NZ, it was common for Kiwis to wear (what they call) jandals aka flip flops with socks. It must be a Pacific Islander thing – they do it here too, only 1) Samoans call flip flops slippers and 2) with all the heat and rain, what’s the point of wearing socks? It’s the funniest when women do it. A woman at our school usually comes with a beautiful puletasi on and then the slipper/sock look. Funny.
· For some reason, kids here share everything. In the Samoan culture, they usually say “what’s mine is yours.” They love to swap cell phones. I’ll often have random kids knocking on my door during class, and when I ask them what they need, they ask if they can talk to “so and so” to get their cell phone. I’ve also got the kids that run out of minutes on their phones so they swap SIM cards to use each other’s minutes. Random.
· We got our pictures taken for our ID’s last week and it was pretty exciting. No one has their own ID anymore though…they swap with each other, and if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they put each other’s ID’s on their backpacks. They also love to look at my ID. “Can I look at your ID, Miss? Oooh so pretty.” Kids these days.
· My kids bring the weirdest stuff to class…everything from palm fronds to coconuts to extra long screwdrivers to huge seeds. They just like to display the stuff on their desk. I don’t really get it.
· Remember slap bracelets? They were popular in like what, 6th grade? They’re a HUGE hit here (we’re on Island time here, folks, we’re waaaay behind with this fad) – everyone is wearing them. It cracks me up to see boys walking around with “Rockstar” or “Girls Rock” or “Love” slapped across their wrists.
Now for a few serious notes about my students:
· I met a freshman the other day and she told Abby and I that she only has one friend at Leone HS. We asked her why, and she said that all the other girls are “backstabbers”. Apparently when she was in elementary school (remember it goes through 8th grade), the other girls thought that she liked all their boyfriends (the girl told us she didn’t) so no one liked her. She then went on to tell us that she didn’t want any other friends because she only wants to be friends with people she really trusts. Almost every single girl here uses the word “backstabber” when they talk about other girls. Girls literally get in fights with each other. Talk about high school drama.
· The boys on the other hand take it a bit farther. If someone talks bad about their family, it instantly turns in to a fight. Thankfully I have yet to witness a fight, but two of my sweetest boys have come to class with sunglasses on. When I ask them to take them off, they quietly ask me if they can keep them on (and then they show me their black eyes). This hits me in the gut and breaks my heart all at once. Sad.
· During the second week of school, we played English Bingo in my class. I used it as an assessment activity so I had categories like vocab, sentence structure, grammar, etc. I had my students draw a bingo board on a piece of paper and then up on the chalkboard, I had written out 25 words (one word for each box) for them to write in all the boxes. I explained to them that each word had to be written in one of the boxes on their bingo boards. They all just sat there and stared at me. “What do you want us to do, Miss?” I had to explain it to each of my classes 10+ times as well as almost to every single student. They literally had no idea what to do. It was a very difficult task for them and I’m still not sure why. By the time we played Bingo, class was pretty much over!
· When the kids are taking tests or I have them read out of our textbook, a lot of them cannot read silently because they either don’t know how or they won’t understand. When I first noticed voices during quiet reading, I went to raise my voice a bit to get them to be quiet, and then I realized that they were reading out loud to themselves. It’s kind of really adorable/cute/I just want to have them read me a story!
Now for some bullet points about other random things:
· Let’s talk about coconuts. I only thought there was one kind. I was so wrong. There are about a bazillion different kinds of coconuts here…we’ve got yellow ones, green ones, brown ones, furry ones, baby ones, huge ones. The list goes on and on. There are coconut trees everywhere. I’ve witnessed two falling out of trees and WHEEEEWIE it’s like a meteor crashing into Earth. You can almost feel the thud when they hit the ground (not really…). It’s also really loud. Today, I was following Mavaega (my 8 year old BFF) around the front yard as he picked up “rubbish” aka leaves, and I was pointing to all the different coconuts and asking which ones you can eat/drink from. 20 minutes later, he’s standing in front of the dining room window with a husked(?) coconut in hand. I walk outside and he hands it to me. I then drank from a coconut. How sweet (haha pun) is that?! It was absolutely delicious (and I’m not a big coconut fan). Later on, he had his older brother crack it open for me and I ate the meat out of it. Turns out it was a “baby” coconut, which are called Niu here, and that’s why it was so tasty. I’ve got a student named Niu. I probably shouldn’t tell him that I like the taste of Niu, should I? Jokes! (That’s what kids say here when they say something funny.)
· Samoans have an extremely touchy culture. Americans tend to keep our distance, but in AmSam, they’ve always got a hand on each other. I think it’s so cute when boys will lay their heads down on the desk (hey! No sleeping!) and put their arms on the back of the boy in front of them. They also enjoy walking around with their arms around each other. Adoooooorable. At home teachers get sued for laying a finger on their students, but here, it is perfectly acceptable for me to pat their backs or literally push them out of my classroom (kids always want to come to my class instead of their Samoan teacher’s class). I like this.
· We’ve got our first Leone HS staff party this Saturday. I fulfilled my secretary duties by taking notes at our meeting on Tuesday. OH WAIT. 99.9% of the meeting was in Samoan. I just sat there with bug eyes, staring around the room. I might as well have just been a fly on the wall. Once I finally managed to get the translation in English I was still overwhelmed because then everybody was staring at me. Hey! Not my fault you made the palagi girl the secretary! Anyways, we created the menu for our party. 99.5% of it is meat. We’re having 2 pigs, cases of chicken, boxes of sausage, and turkey tails (what the heck is a turkey tail?!) as well as some traditional Samoan dishes. I told the other people at the meeting that Amber, Abby, and I would bring dessert. Everybody laughed at me! I asked why they were laughing, and they didn’t really say why. I bet you 5 million bucks that our cakes will be gone within 20 minutes. Samoans these days.
Wheeeeewie was that enough of an update for ya? I’ll be nice and include some recent pictures. Malo!
Hooray - new lavalava!
The JV volleyball game against Fa'asao Marist HS. It was a very easy win for us. Watching the volleyball games is my new favorite school related activity. I never really thought or cared about volleyball until I came here...now I go to all their home games as well as any games that are nearby!
Look how cute/tiny/precious they are!!
They wanted to take a picture with me. I'm not really sure why the girl took it at such an awkward angle, but whatever, I was honored!
Fia gangsters at the Vball game. The boy on the left is in one of my classes and he's a total sweetheart. If you look closely, please notice his rhinestone studded heart necklace.
This is my 6th period. 2 weeks ago I literally could not stand anyone in this class. Now, I love them all to pieces. Look how focused they are. Woo hoo!
Oh and P.S. I have about a bazillion different nicknames here...all of which are from students that aren't mine. I've got a girl that calls me Party Girl ("Heyyyyy Party guuuuuuuuuurl") and a boy that calls me Miss America. I've never talked to this kid before, but he's on the Varsity Vball team and now whenever he sees me he goes "Hi Miss America! Bye Miss America" and then he runs away. Makes me laugh. I do have a couple students that say goofy things to me. One likes to tell me he loves me all the time and the other calls me beautiful. I probably shouldn't let this happen, but the way they say it is just so funny! Can't help it.