Monday, April 26, 2004

Fai filemu

You have to love the three day weekends and the four day work weeks! There sure are a lot of them here. Today is a holiday. Happy ANZAC Day, everyone! I understand that it's a veteran's day for Austraila, New Zealand, and I'm not sure who the A and C are for....maybe American & Cananda? At any rate I have the day off work today and everything is closed and there are no busses. However, I was issued my Peace Corps mountain bike this last Saturday morning and have been riding everywhere on it. I am now able to visit volunteers at their sites without having to come into town to catch a bus that goes out to their village or pay an expensive cab fare. I rode over to another volunteer's site Saturday evening and stayed with her until this morning. It was a relaxing weekend of drinking coffee and cooking good food! Yes, for those of you who know of my addiction, I am still quitting caffeine. I have in the last two months really gotten back on track. I stay away from it during the week and then allow myself a treat on Sundays. I had quit before joining the Peace Corps but with the stress of adjusting to a new environment I went right back to it at full force addiction levels. But now that my life has settled a bit I'm back to my healthy habits. Over all I'm really trying to live a stress free life. Hence the title of this post ("take it easy"!) Without a car to worry about, no bills to pay, and living in a tropical paradise I am constantly reminding myself that I am so truly blessed. It's been easy to forget these blessings when I focus on homesickness, feeling unproductive at my assignment, and frustrated with the language & culture but as of late I'm feeling pretty serene and peaceful about things.
The situation at my job is filled with uncertainty as the principal of my school (the person who requested a volunteer and was my counterpart) has been fired by the board of directors. There is no true leadership at the school currently and I'm not able to start any of my projects. I'm hoping they hire quickly and that the new principal will be excited and willing to work with a peace corps volunteer. Until then I'm just continuing with my work of teaching teachers and a few students how to use the computer. I've also started a seconday project. This Saturday I helped an NGO in Apia that advocates for people with disabilities start a social support group for adults who have intellectual disabilities. It felt good to be involved in something more than just my day to day assignment. I'll be doing events with them about once a month until the group is able to plan events independently without needing the leadership of the NGO. So my days aren't jam packed with activities but I'm okay with that. I'm getting to do a lot of reading, studying for the GRE, running, walking, bike riding, and paddling with my Samoan friends. I'm learning to really appreciate life without focusing on being "productive" 100% of the time, which I feel has made me much more spiritually productive.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

When it rains it pours!

This is just a quick post to let you all know that I do not deserve everything that I've be receiving. I have received 5 packages in the last two weeks full of all kinds of goodies. Let me assure you that I will now be in complete supply of sugar free gum and lotion for the next two years. I will also not be needing any tuna fish or zone bars for quite some time. If you are reading this and thinking, "well, what do I send her now!" You can always always send me a letter and/or pictures describing your lives. Okay, I realize this is quite short, but I just felt I had to get this out before any of you spent money on sending me packages. When I have a litttle bit more time I will post another blog describing the latest developments with my school. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sending out a call for help

I'm now nearing the close of my first 90 days of "actual work". This period is supposed to be alloted for adjustment to the job and establishing rapport with co-workers. I feel like I have a good handle of these two objectives and now feel ready to "get the ball rolling" on about a million different projects I have in mind. I need to prioritize my ideas and really think about what's feasible at my site. I have a list of subject areas that I would love to have input on from those of you that might have expertise in that subject or perhaps know someone who does. I am able to and have been using the Internet to research but first hand experience is what I'm really interested in.
1) One of my ideas may be to establish a relaxation/soothing corner where students who are having tantrums can calm down and then re-enter the program. I thought if anyone has any special education experience might be able to help with ideas on how to go about doing this.
2) I also want to be able make my computer studies program accessible to all the students. I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who has experience in assistive technology. I need to know what is out there that works for people who have visual problems and poor fine motor control and intellectual disabilities.
3) I may also want to have an accessible playground built. If anyone knows of anyone who has built one or knows of a group that likes to fund these sorts of projects please let me know.

These are just ideas in my head of which, may or may not come into actual reality. If you think you might be able to offer information please e-mail me at
If this works then I will probably send out more questions for all of you who may be able to help.
Fa'afetai Tele Lava (Thank you very much)!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Six Month Anniversary

Today marks exactly to the day six months since I left the comforts of familiarity in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I have no idea how it is that I've been in the Peace Corps for half a year. I've now spent two major holidays without my family and I'm still here. Easter wasn't nearly as tough as Christmas was and I spent a wonderful 2 1/2 days in Savaii. I left Thursday and caught the last boat to Savaii with some other volunteers. Upon arriving at the warf in Savaii we missed our bus that was to take us to the other side of the island where we were staying. With my expert Samoan I negotiated a taxi fare that was within our budget and off we went. We stayed in Manase which is a village completely catered to tourists. We stayed in beach fales right on the ocean and ate amazing food until Saturday when we left. It was definitely a splurge on a Peace Corps salary but well worth it. Saturday I slept from 4pm until 6:30am Sunday morning (I think this is because of the dramamine I took for the boat ride) Sunday I went to church and then spent the day at the house of another volunteer where we cooked more good food. Today is Easter Monday, a holiday here, so there are no buses. So I left her house early this morning on foot and walked into town where I saw a Samoan from my paddling team who gave me a lift home. Other mundane details of the day included washing a ton of laundry (by hand of course) and hanging it outside on the line whereby of course it begins to rain shortly there after. (this is usually how it goes when i decide to make a day an laundry day) oh, well! I've been here six months and I'm proud to say that I'm still in this thing and even more excited for the next 20 months here in a tropical paradise.