Do I ever think about quitting? Yes, actually, I do! Sometimes this experience just plain sucks and I wish I could go back Stateside close to family and friends doing something productive and efficient and in English.But then I have nights when I’m out paddling with my team and I get to glide across moonlit water set against a pink and purple sky bordered by palm trees and I think, “God, could this be a more perfect moment?”
So, lately things have been difficult. The school is still without a principal (although, we’ve been told one is coming soon) and the teachers are as unmotivated as ever. They don’t teach their classes. They mostly sit around and maybe pop in a video for the kids. Sometimes the mornings are good if my suggestions are accepted. I’ve been working with a high school down the road, St. Joe’s, to let us use their sport’s field so we can have some space to do our sports and games. Today, we went there and had a grand ol' time playing around. A teacher from the school also wants his students to work with our students to learn about working with the disabled. After my school finished I changed out of my sport’s day clothes into my Puletasi (traditional work clothes for women) and walked back down to St. Joe’s to be a guest lecturer in this teacher’s class. St. Joseph’s is an all boys school and I had a ton of fun talking to these guys about what they can expect when working with my kids. I’m really hoping this program will work out. It will of course, be aninteresting program for my kids and will no doubt promote awareness of intellectual disabilities on the part of these high school boys.
So the morning and this lecture, I guess, were productive parts of my day, but the afternoons continue to be less than even what I would consider sub-standard. I guess the morning just tired out the teachers too much because they just did NOTHING! I’m trying to teach them computers, I’m trying to have them decorate their classrooms, I’m trying to have them teach interesting lessons, but I can’t do it for them. Last week, I made a cultural blunder, when I stated that we were just sitting around too much. Well, that was a mistake, because I insulted the older teachers (This is a culture where age is respected above all else). An older teacher accused me of being disrespectful and told me I was not the pule (boss) and that I am only a volunteer. Man, did I feel crummy. After apologies and tears on both sides things were worked out and the teachers started to work a little bit more (but not too, much). So, I’m not goingto motivate them anymore by being so direct (We Americans can be so direct, but here, it just doesn’t work that way) I think I’m just going to keep my mouth shut and mostly model and make suggestions in a real round-a-bout way. Of course, this is extremely tricky and exhausting.
I really don’t like my job now. But I know things will get better when a new principal arrives and everyone is motivated to work again. I love paddling and I love my sigh language class. I’m going to focus on these positive things and remind myself that life could be helluva lot worse. As always, there are about a million things I could write about why this experience can be so difficult and why it can be so wonderful. Now, that I have password protection on this site I’ll be giving a more candid description of what life here is really like.