Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath and another go up Mt. Alava

I wrote the following post this past Tuesday (I just forgot to post it):

On my way out the door this morning, rain started to lightly fall. I pulled on my raincoat and started my walk to school. 2 minutes later, my coat was off. As cool as this island is, wearing a raincoat in the tropics is not cool. In fact, it's deathly HOT. My raincoat was off and on 3 times for the rest of my walk to school. Rain falls for a few minutes, and then it stops. Then it starts falling again. The rainy season approaches and I am assuming that rain is just not going to stop falling.

Halfway through my walk, I reached a house that I never used to notice. As of late, the house has been infested with vicious, snarling dogs. I dread walking by this house. So far I've had to defend myself 3 times and I had a feeling that his morning would be my fourth. The dogs knew I was coming before I could even see them. In fact, one dog even left his own territory to start approaching me. It was at that time that a man walked around the corner of a large bush. SAVIOR! Hurray for the owner 'halu'-ing his own dogs away from me. Happy Quinn.

As I walked past Midkiff Elementary, Mavaega ran out of his class (of course) and asked if we could read a book tonight. Sure thing, kiddo.

Rain. drops. keep. falling. on. my. raincoat.

I get to school and almost make it to my classroom and a student goes, "What happened to your skirt?" Oy. Mud spots are all over me! That's what I get for wearing a yellow lavalava.

The rain was coming down so hard that all the kids were hiding under another building. When it would let up for a few seconds, they would run to the building where my classroom is. Hilarious.

Okay, back to today’s post:
This past week, I wrapped up my unit on the Great Depression with the movie, The Grapes of Wrath. I wasn’t sure how my students would react to it. It’s in black and white, was filmed in 1940, and didn’t have any rap songs or swear words. Without any access to a projector or a TV, I had all my kids crowd around my Mac computer that I have in my classroom. On the first day, only one class truly paid attention. Everyone else was sleeping, pushing my buttons, or doing other homework. On the second day, a class asked if I could put subtitles on, and sure enough, it worked like a charm. Throughout the rest of the movie (which took 3-4 days depending on how far each class got every day), almost everyone ended up paying attention and liking it! Of course there were still the kids that fell asleep or did other homework, but at least they were quiet. In the movie, some men beat up another guy and kill him. This made my students laugh like crazy! That’s exactly how it was when somebody died in the Harry Potter movie I saw when I first got here! They laugh at the stuff that would normally make others sad. Funny.
Thursday (the 2 year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami) ended up being a very somber day. We had each class for 25 minutes so I had them journal about their own story on 9/29/09. I had several students ask me if they could write about something else because it was too hard to write about. This was obviously a punch in my gut because I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have gigantic waves come crashing in on your village and even your home. I have yet to read the entries. They are waiting for me at school and I am kind of dreading the task of reading 105 stories about that day. In another journal entry, one of my students said that I’m like a second mom to her, and that’s exactly how I feel when it comes to this kind of stuff. I hate knowing that something terrible has happened to these kids. Following all the classes, we had an assembly. The swing choir sang (and OMG were they good), people spoke, individual students sang, they said a lot of prayers, and that was it. We had lunch and then everyone went home at 1:15.
Because we got out early on Thursday, Abby and I got a ride into town from one of our science teachers to do some grocery shopping. We shopped, hopped on the first bus, and when we were waiting for the second bus, another one of Leone’s science teachers drove past and then stopped and gave us a ride home. Go science!
Friday was game day in my classroom. I put some word scrambles on the board which ended up being a hit. Good to know. In my mainstream classes, we played 20 Questions. You think of something and then everyone else is allowed to ask 20 yes or no questions to try and guess it. That game is kind of boring to me, but it kept them entertained so I was happy. Earlier this summer, I attended a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference with the Kishwaukee College Adult Literacy Program. In one of the sessions that I attended, we were given a sheet of paper that had a list of phrases on it, for ex. find someone who wears glasses or find someone who has been to Alaska, etc. You have to go around the room and ask people the questions. If you find someone that has been to Alaska, they have to sign the paper, but the person can only sign your paper once. The whole point of it is to get to know a whole bunch of people in a short amount of time. I never thought that it would work here. I felt that it would be too complicated for younger students and that it would turn my classroom into a riot. I decided to try it on Friday in my proficient classes, and they LOVED it. I had statements like, find someone who has seen Lord of the Rings (of course!), find someone who can draw your face on the back of this paper (that was funny), find someone who can do the splits (I even had a few girls do it for the class!), find someone who has been to Manu’a (the outer islands), find someone who can dance like Beyonce (no one would dance for us…sad), and find someone who drinks coffee every day (“You’re a teacher, Miss, of course you drink coffee every day!) Friday was a good day.
Period 2. Love them.

Beautiful faces in Period 3. Love!

A few from Period 5. Love them too!

On Friday night, the roomies and I watched Bridesmaids. I made myself a delicious chicken salad. Went to bed early. On Saturday, Abby and I were going to give Mt. Alava another go. We first hiked this mountain near the end of orientation, so it had been a while since we sweated off 10 pounds. Read this post to see how it went the first time:  Mt. Alava: Climb Number One
Around 11:00, Abby and I took a bus to the Tafuna T, walked for a few minutes, and then met up with our friend Khoa and his neighbor Dave. Dave is in the Coast Guard and he has a truck, so we hopped in, and off we went. It took us a little over an hour to drive to the start of the hike. It’s a beautiful drive and I wish all of you could experience it. Once we got to Vatia, we put on some bug spray, another smear of sunscreen, pushed up our sunglasses and started trudging. Within the first 5 minutes, I was so exhausted that I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. The trail was covered with leaves so not only did you have to be extra careful, but it just took away all the traction. The first couple miles are pretty much straight up. The first time we climbed, Khoa and I flew up it. The second time around, Khoa and I huffed and puffed and moaned. “I hate my life.” “I feel like crap.” “WHYYYY.” We really only said this stuff when we could catch our breath, which wasn’t very often. We took a couple breaks, downed half our water bottles, and tried to get air into our lungs. It was rough and I was tempted to turn around and go back down, mainly because we hadn’t even started the ladders. We took one more long break and it was exactly what we needed.
 On the first ladder, I felt great. Pretty soon we were having conversations as we crawled up them. The first time around, I was swearing with every step, this time, I could have sang a song. Not really, but maybe. The ladders were still tough, but I just pep talked myself with every step. “DO IT!” I felt like Gollum, Sam, and Frodo climbing up the stairs to Cirith Ungol except my Shelob was a great view and a spot to down my second water bottle and my Gatorade.
Pictures really don't show you how steep the ladders are. I found that climbing them like a monkey (using your hands and not the rope) is a little bit easier. Works your arm muscles too!

 Yes that ladder is straight up and yes I made Khoa stop halfway so I could take a picture. I'm so nice!
By the time we reached the top, I was sweaty, but I felt AWESOME. It is such an overpowering experience to stand on the top of a mountain and look out to see this tiny island in the middle of the ocean. Words can’t describe it. We hung out for a while, took some pictures, refueled with some apples and trail mix, soaked in the view, and rested our legs. Pretty soon it was time to hike down. Last time, we hiked down to another village, but because we had a ride this time, we had to hike back down the ladders. Piece of cake, right? The first couple ladders were easy, but pretty soon our quads, knees, and hips were screaming. Trying to walk down a super steep mountain with ladders is quite difficult. Getting to flat ground again was sweet relief. After a few minutes of stretching and soaking in the beauty of the Vatia bay, we were back in the truck and headed toward drinks and food.
You HAVE to click on this picture to make it bigger. DO IT, NOW! I LIVE HERE!

Roomie Abby and I. Sweaty but happy. One more step backwards and we would have ended up in the ocean.
Resting my legs by the bay in Vatia.

Let me now update you with my eating (I could really make a separate blog to talk about how much I love food, you know). After the hike, we went to Tisa’s Barefoot Bar (I went there last weekend…) where we had a couple beers and watched the night slowly approach. Candyman came back with a dog tooth tuna. Creepy looking thing. We talked to some other palagi’s that live on island, and then headed back into Utulei to eat some pizza (it’s like a repeat of last weekend!). Abby and I split an 18’’ sausage and mushroom. I downed my half and ate 3 pieces of crust from Khoa and Dave’s pizza. It was glorious. We then stopped by the gas station and got ice cream. I scarfed down a cone with cookies and cream AND rocky road almond. I know I’ve said it before, but WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH ME. I eat SO MUCH FOOD. Where does it all go??????????? Abby thinks I should enter an eating contest. I could totally win. Khoa eats as much as me, so at least I’m not alone.

I slept like a baby last night. Hiking up a mountain will do that to ya. Now it’s Sunday and I’ve got sore hips and calves. I’m enjoying a delicious iced coffee (thanks Kristine!) and I can hear a nearby church congregation singing. Life in American Samoa is just plain freakin’ awesome. Manuia le aso!


Kristine said...

YAY!! I'm so glad you finally had some of the iced coffee. As soon as I read that it was hot in your raincoat I thought to myself - then you should drink an iced coffee. HA!

Jan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mom said...

Haha I deleted the above comment because I forgot to sign my name. This way of commenting is much better than the last.
Anyway, incredible adventures, Quinn! So impressed with your pictures! Beautiful kids!

Margaret Ann said... me you are a rock star on soooo many many different levels... I simply LOVE visiting your blog...♥