Thursday, November 27, 2008

Goodbye Samoa!

Well, Im back in the exact place where I started this adventure some 27 months parents kitchen table.  Who knows if Im any wiser, but Im definitely older.  I wrote the following post the day I was moving out of my house in Tafatafa (11/21/08).  Thank you everyone for your love and support over the last 2 years.  I may or may not start a new blog, Ill let you all know, but for now the Samoan adventure has sadly come to end....enjoy the last blog!

How did this happen? There is no way I have been here for 2 years. I am currently sitting on the floor of my now semi-empty house.  Of course I waited until the last minute to pack (5am the day I am getting picked up).  The Peace Corps car will be here soon to move me out of Tafatafa…for good.  It doesn’t seem real at all.  This was such a wonderful and humbling experience…and incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking as well.  Most of all I will miss the kids from my school and a certain 6 year old boy in particular.  They taught me so much in the way of patience and love. 

Yesterday I had my goodbye “party” with the school.  I was doing ok until I had to say goodbye to the sea of big brown eyes.  I remember when I first came to that same room 2 years ago and all those eyes bore into me with unabashed curiosity.  In 2 years I fell in love with each and every one of them.  Samoan children are so full of life and many of the adults try to beat that out of them at an early age.  I tried to give them an opportunity to be who they wanted to be and to think for themselves, but in the end I think I was the one who learned from them.  They showed me how to take joy in the little things in life and to laugh at my mistakes.  To have to look into all those big brown eyes and say goodbye…well I’ve done easier things in my life.

It really has been a long and strange trip.  How do you just leave a place like this?  How do you just say goodbye to people you have lived with, worked with, bent over backwards for, cried with, yelled at, laughed with and just sat and talked to about everything and nothing in particular?  I guess there probably is no right or wrong way to leave, so I won’t.  I hope a part of me will live on in those big brown eyes.  I hope they stand up for what they want, read books from their new library, learn to type on their new computers and ask questions without feeling shameful for not knowing the answer. 

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you I’ve been changed for good.”

But before I get into the swampy area of complete corniness (hmm maybe too late), I’ll hop off my soap box and clean out my fridge which has a faint smell of rotten fish and moldy cheese.  I won’t be able to post this until I get home as Mary and Dad don’t know I am coming home for Thanksgiving, Mom and I tried to surprise them, we’ll see how it goes…Thanks Samoa for the tears, laughter, patience, smiles, vailimas, friendships and 20 extra pounds. 

Signing off from Tafatafa…I’m out!

On the plane..they actually let us on
Me with baby Dan who was Meg's (unbelievably cute) nephew at the airport
Dave, Samoa and I.  My last dinner.  They made me a pig and sashimi..mmm
My (actually Dave's) beach
Seb (Dave's son) and Dave, shaving the pig for dinner
Sina and Nerisa (my BFF in the vil).  Mom gave Nerisa that shirt
The kids peaking into the office
Issac and Malaki

And the 2008 Book List is:
1/22/08 - Heart of Darfur, Lisa French Blaker - This is written by a Kiwi nurse who did Doctors without Borders in Darfur.  Not the happiest book, but I really enjoyed it

2/3/08 - Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger - Not so much about football as it was about how messed up this little Texas town was in the 80s, very interesting

2/11 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling - Had to re-read it because its just that good

2/19 - The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel - I love Ayla!!  Very cool book to read when living in a culture that doesn't get you and you don't really get them

2/25 - Northern Lights, Philip Pullman - This was the beginning of my fantasy stage.  Very much enjoyed it

2/27 - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis - Classic

3/4 - The Other Side of Haight, James Fadiman - A novel about living in California in the 60s...I've read better

3/24 - Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronical, Mortiz Thomsen - By a guy who did the "real" PC back in the 60s in South America.  Made me realize how much better we have it, pretty funny too

4/3 - History's Worst Decisions: and the People who made them, Stephen Weir - So promising and so disappointing

4/15 - The Valley of the Horses, Jean M. Auel - Part 2 from Clan of the Cavebear.  First book was better, but still kinda entertaining

5/31 - The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien - Classic, loved it

6/11 - Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis - Wanted to read it before the movie came out.  Fun

6/16 - Stranger in a Strange Land (unedited version), Robert Heinlein - Wow!  I mean really made me rethink a lot of things.  Im currently recommending this to anyone and everyone, so read it

6/24 - The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman - 2nd of the Dark Materials trilogy.  Good

7/20 - D-Day, Stephen Ambrose - Started out good, ended up dry

7/23 - Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer - My first Krakauer experience...loved it!

7/30 - Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin - Mortenson got lost after climbing K2 and then decided to spend the rest of his life building schools in Pakistan...umm cool!  Helping people is neat

8/8 - The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman - Last of the trilogy.  Between this book and Stanger I think these were the most influential books I read this year.  Very cool

8/14 - Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer - Kid wonders around doing cool stuff, but kinda dumb about it and gets himself killed in Alaska...not a bad book though

8/27 - The Mammoth Hunters, Jean M. Auel - 3rd book from Clan, this is where it starts to get trashy and stupid

9/23 - Acts of Faith, Philip Caputo - A novel about aide workers in Africa.  AMAZING!  Very intense but soooo good!

10/2 - Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali -  Muslim woman who ran away from her family.  Also just an amazing story and its true!  Ayaan is pretty much my hero

10/19 - All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque - Been meaning to read this one forever.  Novel about boys in WWI, beautifully written and very sad.

10/29 - Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer - History of Mormons and the inspiration of my halloween costume.  If you want to get really mad at the stupidity of certain humans, go ahead and read it, I dare you.

Currently reading Until Proven Innocent which is about the Duke Lacrosse boys who got severely screwed over by their own college and the American judicial system back in 2006.  Also a book that makes me a little bit angry, but I promise other than that I am really very happy.
Hope you all enjoy my reads and if you have any comments about my reviews or suggestions for my 2009 reading list I would be more than happy to hear them!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My camera takes black and white pictures! That is neat

Mary me

Oh wait this pic isnt black and white, but whatever its my life. These are the teachers I work with...need I say more?
Malaki and his mama Ella.

I love Malaki! Can you see his hearing aide?!

My new favorite picture

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sugar and Spice

Once again, everything is crazy and I never have time to write anything of substance so I decided to just let the pics do the talking instead...

PCV hanging out at my beach...

Girls of 77. That is the beach where I live, true story.

This is Shane and I at Halloween. We found out while in PC that we are like 3rd cousins 4 times removed or some such nonsense. Anyway this is about the only appropriate pic I have from Halloween so i thought i would put it up...

We had a staff tea to thank the pc staff for putting up with us for 2 years. This is the cake meg and I got, complete with a G.I Joe candle and roses...we thought it was appropriate...

This was the map we were keeping during the election. Notice we added Samoa and American Samoa. We also pointed out where Russia would be in case anyone was related to Palin...

On election night all us Americans were invited to the US embassy where they have CNN (gasp!). We weren't suppose to bring in cameras or cell phones, but I "accidentally" forgot my camera in my bag (see if you can find Meghan and her surprised face of me taking a picture...not so subtle that one). This is the back room of the embassy, we were just about to find out that OBAMA WON!!

We had a little "gathering" at my beach fales last weekend. These are 3 of the 4 girls of the new group 81. They presented me with an awesome thank you card for helping with their training because they are just that cool. From left- Blakey, Chris, me, Erin (who will be moving into a village just 3 away from mine so she can check in on my projects for the next 2 years. yay!)

This is Dylan. Dylan and I are the technical volunteer trainers for the new group 81. This is just one example of how distracting Dylan is when I am trying to work hard (or hardly work, Im not sure any more?) in the office...

We had no power or water and we were all stuck in the office on a Sunday...since the office turned into a sauna in a matter of 5 minutes we decided to do what any good volunteer would do in a such a stressful situation...go to the third floor balcony and make ava of course! Im the taupo (i.e. ava mixer)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dennis the Menace meets Samoa

Very busy the last few weeks. I had a few minutes to throw up a few pics from our last fiafia for the new group 81. Very mixed feelings about going home in a couple of weeks. I love so many people on this funny little island, I just don't know how Im gonna say goodbye to them all....

Group 77's last Fiafia! I can't believe its almost over! ps- remember when we came to Samoa there were 16 of us. Ive been having a lot of fun and going back and reading my first blogs from when I came here. I guess a lot has happened in 2 years...

Meghan was really excited about Molly's headdress...
She's special..

To be the taopo for a fiafia (which is what Molly was) you have to wear all sorts of fun stuff. You also must be covered in coconut oil so you skin is all shinny and people can stick money to you (this is a really fun culture). I am helping Molly with her coconut oil here, I think we used a whole bottle...

77 girls getting a little sappy at our last fiafia...silent tear..

This is Meghan's Samoan father, Tagiau, who is pretty much the coolest man alive. He made me a sling shot (as in he whittled down a tree branch and hooked it up) to shot at the stupid island dogs, pigs, chickes, students, etc. It is pretty much the best present I could ask for. He also taught me how to shot it...Im still working on my aim with moving targets...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

yeaaaahhhhh....its all part and parcel of the job...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do NOT insult Journey!

Very busy with new group training. I guess I didn't realize how much work I was signing up for. Oh well, its nice to be busy. Thought I would throw a few pics up on the old blog since I haven't done that in a while....

Tattoos of group 77. This was at our COS conf. It is everyone who got tattooed over the last 2 years.

Samoan sunset over my house. Pretty.

HAHA! This will just never get old. Meghan and I had to dress up for Teacher's Day the first weekend of Oct. The dress code was all white puletasi's and white hats. The good news is we got free cake and ice cream. I mean it just don't get no better.

One of these things is not like the other...Me posing with the teachers of my school at Teacher's Day

Us on the bus going to teacher's day

Yay new group 81! Not really the best picture, but if you can't tell, they are really tall. And a special note to Matt's family (who apparently read my blog) he is in the green shirt on the left side. He is doing really well and enjoys making fun of me trying to teach his training.

Welcome ava ceremony for the new group. From the left is Christian, Sharon (who works in our office), and Aaron

Shane was the ava boy and was pretty confused for most of the ceremony, but what else is new?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm important, I swear!

Well, term 3 (subsequently my last term in Samoa, sad face) "started" last week. I actually will be lucky to go to much school at all this term because I was "hired" (big into the quotation marks recently) to be a volunteer technical trainer (at least we think that is what the term is). Which basically means I am helping out with the new training group that comes in next week. Which also officially means I will have been in Samoa for exactly 2 years, holy cat's potatoes! Anywho, I am helping out, with my buddy Dylan, with the life and work training aspect of things. I am really excited about it because I have soooo much information to give to the new SPED (special education) volunteers. So that is neat. Other than that, I have pretty much been spending my time sitting on a bus going back and forth from apia to my village. Things be good and busy though, plan on being home beginning of Dec and making an east coast tour. anyone, who wants to join or wants to let me crash on their floor let me know. Love to you all