The Vaiala Heroes at Culture Day

Culture Day at Vaipua Primary

Books Donated from Darien Aid

Tree Planting with funds donated from WaterCharity

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Training Comes to a Close

The last week of training was filled with language refreshers to prepare us for the LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) that was to happen on Friday. Most of us were fairly confident we could surpass the required “Intermediate Low” mark and so, slacked off most of the week. Throwing around the football outside the hall, but mostly inside barely missing breaking the windows several times. We would pick a category, something like “Words for Male Genitalia”,  and play catch with the football, everyone saying in turn one word. I believe  “Purple headed yogurt slinger” was said at one point, which was amazing. We did everything but study. The only thing I think I learned during the last week of training was how to form sentences beginning with “can”, “should” and “must”.

Alli couldn’t wait a day longer to get out of her suffocating Mormon pastor father (“He’s like the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk!” – Alli after coming home one night from watching LOST at my house a little after her “curfew” of 10. He sat in the dark in the kitchen area tearing into some taro, crunching bones, gnashing teeth and grunting inaudibly with his mouth full…did I mention he was sitting alone in the dark?) I, on the other hand, was a bit sad to leave my family. They have been so good to me, not only have they extended every courtesy and responded to any need I might have had, they also embraced me as a member of the family. Joking, watching movies together, laughing at each other, playing volleyball, making fala’s with Pulusila, helping each other with homework, giving me rides to school when it was raining, and above all, understanding when I didn’t want to go to church because “I just don’t understand anything they’re saying…it’s boring” and letting me stay home and cook with my older brothers. Fantastic.

The much anticipated Friday went really fast, I was with Manu last and he asked me some crazy discussion type questions that weren’t in the study guide, which I struggled through with my limited Samoan. He asked me things like “What do you hope to accomplish in the Samoan schools?” and “You are at a store, you’ve eaten some chocolate and some ice cream but have just realized that you forgot your wallet. Explain the situation to the store clerk and arrange for later payment”. The school question, I explained that I would teach new methods (Manu kept having to supply the word “method” to me) of teaching, like not hitting kids or sending them out to pull weeds when they’re bad because MESC is against the first one and because the second one is not contusive to learning (no I didn’t use the word contusive in Samoan). It seemed to do the trick, at least for him, because Fale divulged to me later during a cigarette break that he had decided to give me an Intermediate High!

There was only an hour to run home, get changed into our matching blue tases (82’s slang for puletasi created by Kaeleni of course) after the final last minute dance practice. Oh yeah, that was a bit of drama I didn't mention in the entry before. Half of us wanted to finish the girl’s siva instead of stopping after two versus, two choruses, but the smaller half wanted to just leave it as is. We ended up leaving it as is and after all like Niko said in his brief salute to Group 82  “All of the things that stress you out now, will be completely meaningless soon (when you are in your sites)”

The night was exhausting. All of us showed up in the matching puletasis and looked really good! It was fun to see everyone’s own design (Corina’s mom’s interpretation of it anyway) and to have a feeling of solidarity as well. Well done. The girls siva was awesome, no major flaws. The boys siva was jumpy, slapping, yelling and oiled up bodies. The sasa dance (slapping of the knees to a wild drum) was AWFUL, a complete disaster. Terry, who practiced with us before with the drum, decided to try a whole new beat and we couldn’t tell when to come in or do the next set of moves, so the clapping wasn’t together, the slapping was helter skelter and finally Su’a sat in front of us to try and lead us through the rest of the song and he forgot a move and was off beat also. J The Manunuans got a kick out of it though.

We did the choir song again, Corina and Su’a did their little song also, but the highlight was Su’a, Terry and Joe dressing in drag with lipstick and all and doing a choreographed dance to “Mama Mia” during which a couple of mothers from Manunu got up and danced/fought with them, throwing in kicks, hiking up their ie lava lavas and doing the funky chicken…it was something else.

Next day, we loaded the bus at 7am but not before we were presented with a bunch of roasted piglets and their charbroiled mother by all the matais and given a great epic speech by the village tulafale. I got a great picture from where I was sitting.

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