It’s now February 4, 2010 and the school year started last Monday. I feel much better being busy planning lessons and squeezing out creative juices to make learning materials with the infinitely low resources available. Basically, I have paper. The first few days of school in Samoa are dedicated to cleaning the school grounds and the rooms, assemblies to introduce new students, check for messy uniforms or sub-standard haircuts. I’ve seen a whole new side of Tuaia while in her role as school master, who was once my friendly go-to lady with great English who introduced me around and helped me out was now the stern disciplinarian, pacing back and forth slowly and deliberately in front of the petrified students. Better hope your sideburns aren’t too long, cause if they are, she’ll find them. She’ll find them and pull you up on your toes by them before letting you go and soundly smacking you in the face. Kids don’t cry when they get smacked here, they just rub their faces and sit back down. New kids stood up in front of the school and introduced themselves
“O lou igoa o Sina. O lou tina o Peta. O lou tama o Aso. O te nofo ii Fogasavaii” (My name is Sina, My mom is Peta, My dad is Aso, I live in Fogasavaii.). I was glad for these little introductions because I could understand every word, a rare sensation. As far as the corporal punishment goes, it’s just normal here, just like animal abuse (not feeding animals unless they are intended to become food, throwing rocks at or kicking dogs and cats, throwing unwanted kittens and puppies (especially if they are female) into the ocean . Nobody flinches, nobody protests. It’s just the way it is here. I witnessed it in Manunu when one of my younger host brothers got all dirty before church, throwing around cow pies. He got a beating, and it was loud. Alli’s bike was “borrowed” by some kids in the village off her front porch. She lives in a house with the faifeau (pastor) again, she just gets bad luck with housing and nothing is more fearful than the wrath of the angry Samoan pastor. Dude, these kids were found, thrown on their knees in front of Alli and whipped with a belt while he made them beg her forgiveness.
Anyway, school’s not just all beatings and cleaning, there are teacher’s meetings going on too. The kids serve the teachers tea and crackers in the staff room while we discuss the funds given by the MESC (Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture) this year and what we should do with them. The principal wants to get a few computers, a printer, new locks for the doors, more desks, carpets for the younger classes to sit on and we were talking about writing a grant for a new building to house a better library, a computer room/principal’s office and staff room. Apparently, if you raise 25% of the money needed, the EU (European Union) will pay the rest, if they approve the project. I’m looking into that. I also brought up a project suggested to me by a Group 80 volunteer to plant fruit trees within the school grounds whose fruit would go exclusively to the children and teachers. Great health project seeing as kids either don’t eat anything at school or buy ice cake or Twisties and the staff primarily consume ramen noodles, don’t worry I bring my lunch.
Anyway, next week classes start! I’ll be teaching English to years 5-8.