Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pictures and Adventures

4 full days in American Samoa to go. Enjoy these pictures that sum up everything I've done and experienced in the past week.
Senior Ball. 

Parents, family, cousins, and friends attend. You can "walk" with a date, meaning your name and your date's name will be announced and you will meet each other in the middle of a stage, trade flowers/ula's (lei's), and then the boy will escort the girl off the stage. Dad's escorted daughters, cousins escorted cousins, boy's escorted their baby sisters....it's all very different here. After all this, they dance to songs like the Cupid Shuffle while the parents watch (or dance) and then they go home! 

There was A LOT of satin but everyone looked great!

The NHS students helped out and they got all wet because the weather was terrible - so rainy and windy!

One of my best friends : )

This little guy's name is Quinn!

The palagi teachers all spiffied up!

My last day with 1st Period

Myself and who Amber and I call "The Triplets." These three are inseparable. 

A teary goodbye with my fifth period

I'm really gonna miss this one.

I've gotten so many hugs and Samoans happen to be very good huggers!

The seniors got awesome t-shirts and lavalavas for senior week

Some of my Snow Boyz

Tired after a rugby game

At the Senior Baccalaureate on Sunday - they looked so beautiful and handsome in their uniforms!

The three of us after Baccalaureate

Fabric in Tutuila Store - it's a bit overwhelming...

Abby and I raced down the hill one night to catch this gorgeous sunset in the Leone Bay.

Came home from school one day to find the most vivid double rainbow right over our house. Lucky us!

Moments like these will stay with me forever...

Memorial Day was spent at the beach in Fatu Ma Futi. We swam in the water but the current was so strong that we kept getting swept down the beach! Ha.

Holding on to a rock so I wouldn't get swept away.

It was a a perfect day in AmSam.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fiafia night

To break up the emotional posts, let's travel back in time to a night when I wasn't really thinking about leaving. About a month ago, the senior class had a fundraiser to raise money for senior week/baccalaureate/graduation/etc. It was called "Fiafia Night" which pretty much means a night of excitement, dance, and fun.

The villages that the students come from split up into different countries so it was an international night. They then performed two dances that belonged to that country. For example, the village of Leone was Jamaica, Amanave to Poloa was India, Malaeloa was Africa, Taputimu and Vailoa were Tahiti...etc.

It was an entertaining night and they were able to raise over $4,000 in just a few hours. In the traditional Samoan way of giving money, as they students danced, people in the audience would come up and throw money at them. No big deal. Only in American Samoa.

The ATL crew (aka the villages from Amanave to Leone) performing a Maori Haka (New Zealand). I wouldn't quite call it a Maori Haka but hey, it's the thought that counts.

The Miami crew (aka the village of Malaeloa) performing a very interesting African dance. 
The village of Leone (the biggest, as you can see) was Jamaica.
Another shot of the Jamaica group - you can see people throwing money at them.

The Taputimu and Vailoa girls performing a traditional Tahitian dance, complete with the famous hip shaking! I was jealous of their outfits...my favorite color and adorable!
The Taputimu and Vailoa boys - shakin' it Tahitian style.
Pava'ia'i was in charge of Mexico. The boy in the orange lit up the stage. He is an absolute riot!

The Snow Boyz of Aoloau were Hawaii (not a country, but hey, it's in the S. Pacific!).
The Fiji crew - one of the best performances!

Even though I don't teach any of the 200+ seniors, I am friends with most of them. I went to their Baccalaureate service this morning and I still can't believe that my time is coming to an end! 6 more days on island and I'm going to soak up as much as I can before I leave for my trip back to Aotearoa.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Last day...

Malo lava.

I apologize for the lack of blogs lately. I have barely even had time to sleep (honest truth!). Like I said in my last post, this week has been a whirlwind of emotions, but at the same time, it has been so much fun.

I went to the Senior Ball last night. It was so fun and all the students looked so beautiful and handsome!

I'm pretty sure it's turning into winter here. I wore JEANS yesterday to school. Jeans! I'm sure it was in the high 70's but I was so cold. I'll be in New Zealand in a week and a day and the average temperature on the south island is in the low 50's. Egads. I'm gonna freeze to death.

Today is the last official day of school. We're having an assembly and I guess just hanging out?

I will try to post again soon.


Monday, May 21, 2012

This is It.

My last Monday at Leone High School has arrived. Today will be the last day that I see all my classes in one day. This fact didn't even connect with me until Abby said something this morning.


I can't believe it. It feels like just yesterday when I was walking on the campus for the first time.

Didn't I just teach my first lesson?

Sigh. How fast time flies.

This week will be a whirlwind of emotions, goodbyes, laughter, pictures, exams, and an assembly. I'll be on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Saying goodbye is so hard. My heart is broken to leave this island and all the people who have made my time here so amazing. But, I'm tough and I'll push through.

As always, thank you for all your support, love, care, and kind thoughts. You have no idea how much they have helped me this year.

Fa soifua - manuia le aso/taeao/afiafi/po.

Monday, May 14, 2012

All it takes is a frisbee

Back in September, Abby and I went to the village of Vailoa. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from our house to this village. Many of our students live here and it is right on the ocean. While there, we made friends with a gazillion little kids (who all happen to be brothers and sisters...or cousins). Refresh your memory by going back to this post: Vailoa kids

A few weekends ago, Abby and I went back to play with the kids. While we had seen them several times since September, we were amazed at how much they had grown in the past several months. Just like last time, it all started with a frisbee. The second I pulled it out of my bag, kids came from every direction to play. "QUINN QUINN QUINN!" It was a really fun day and I just love being surrounded by tiny Samoans! 

*All of the pictures were taken by Abby. *

The twins: Alpha and Omega.

Pile up!
They just love having their pictures taken!

Toothy grins

This picture puts such a big smile on my face.

High fives are fun!

After we swam for a little bit, it was decided that I should be turned into a mermaid. 

When you try to become a mermaid to close to the ocean, the ocean will take away your flipper.

So you move farther back and start all over again.

The finished product. Seki a.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


"Patience! Patience, my love."

Smeagol's convincing words to Gollum (to hold up on stealing the Ring back from Frodo) are words that we can all learn from (yes, I understand that not everyone is a LOTR fan, but please...hear me out.) 

I would describe myself as a patient person to a certain extent. I am not one to overly complain about something that isn't going my way. I can take my time on something if it is absolutely necessary.

You see, as patient as I am, I am the kind of person that likes to get something done as fast as I can. I've always been that way. If someone gives me something to do, I do it right away so I can start on the next thing. I'm not the kind of person that likes to drag stuff out to make it take forever. To me, that's just wasting time.

My life has changed in many, many ways since moving to American Samoa. I have learned so much about myself throughout the past year. I have grown and changed. I have also learned that sometimes, you just have to slow down whether you like it or not.

One thing that I have really learned is what the word patience means. I have also learned how patient I am willing to be in a place where patience means everything. Here are some examples:

Oh, the bell hasn't rung yet? And it was supposed to ring 20 minutes ago? The bell will ring when the bell rings (or when the office remembers to send someone out with the wooden stick to hit the oxygen tank.)

Oh, you were late to class because you came from the other side of campus? Ok, here's one thing I am NOT patient about. Samoans walk really slow. I'm talking reeeeeeeally slow. Even my really fit students walk at glacier pace. There is nothing wrong with this, but I just can't do it. I have really long legs and my legs like to go super fast. "Miss, you walk too fast."

Oh, you don't have your homework? Sigh. Assigning homework is like asking them to climb Mt. Everest. I take a deep breath and explain to them that not turning in their homework on time will make them lose points (of course this doesn't work either, but hey, at least I tried). Sigh. PATIENCE. I've gotten much better since the beginning of the year.

Oh, your final essay is due tomorrow and you haven't even started it yet? "You can do this. I will help you, but I believe in you and know that you will get it done." [I'm a nice teacher. Can't help it.]

Oh, it is raining so hard that I can't hear my music or the movie playing on my laptop. I actually like when this happens because I like just lying or sitting there, listening to the beautiful sound of the tropical rain...something I will miss so much.

These are just a few examples of ways I have to be calm and collected on this island. In the words of Smeagol, you won't get anything done if you aren't patient!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I just had a "oh my gosh school is almost over what am I gonna do how am I gonna say goodbye this is the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with" moment. I've been getting them a lot lately, probably because I get asked what day I leave at least 5 times a day. Sigh.

Next week will be my last week with the seniors. I don't teach any of them, but I love a whole lot of them. They have exams next week and the following week is senior week.  Knowing that soon they won't be hanging out in my classroom or coming in to say hi makes me sad. On a brighter note, I am looking forward to Senior Ball (aka the Samoan version of Prom) and Graduation (I will cry.)

Even though the seniors will be gone, I am lucky to still have so many freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to keep me entertained. Knowing that they'll still be around for an extra week is enough to keep me smiling. 
To deal with the panic attack moments, I first take a deep breath and after that, I remind myself that even though I call AmSam home and I have 200+ students that have become my family, I am soon to be going home to my actual home and the many friends and loving family that I have not seen in almost a year. It balances out the bittersweetness that's flowing through my mind right now.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

That's so...nice

I graduated from college with a degree in English. I spent four years of my life writing countless essays and completing assignments in vivid detail. Remember the golden rule: show, don't tell! I happen to like the English language very much.

Now that I have lived in a place where English is not the first language, I have noticed that some of my own English skills are in jeopardy. Let me explain one.

When you hear the word nice, what do you think of? Prior to living in AmSam, I used the word to describe people who went out of their way to do something for me. "You are such a nice person." "Thank you for doing that for me - that was nice of you." Normal. 

Now, I live in a place where the word nice is not used to describe people. Instead, it is used in situations like this.

In comparing two types of chocolate cookies (where the adjectives gooey, chocolatey, and melty could be used) my students describe the cookies as nice.

"How was your weekend?"
"Oh, it was nice."

"Did you take your Science test?"
"Well, did you do okay?"
"Yes, it was nice."


The word nice is probably the most used adjective on this entire island and it is never used to describe the goodness of people. This used to eat me up during my first few months of teaching. I regret to inform you that now, I have given in.

I use the word nice in all the wrong places. I describe meals as nice, I said that my birthday was nice. I will honestly say that I am not doing it on purpose. I picked it up from all my students and fellow teachers and now I say it without even realizing it. Sometimes I realize it and just shake my head. The funny thing is, everyone understands what you mean if you describe something as being nice.

Only in American Samoa.