Monday, October 25, 2004

It Takes a Year

So, if you can believe it I've now been here on this tiny island one whole year. I've now just seen the second group of new volunteers arrive after my own group. This past week I met with the new girl trainees to prep them for life in their training village. Two other volunteers and myself took them to a volunteer's house for pizza and girl talk. I had forgotton how much I didn't know when I first arrived here. They were full to the brim with questions. It felt pretty good to know that I had all the answers and made me realize how truly far I've come in a year. It is only through them that I've been able to see how I've grown.

I haven't really written that many posts about my work over the last year and that's mainly because I didn't think I had much to write about. I didn't feel that I had changed all that much at my school and really wasn't even sure if I could actually do what my peace corps job description said I was there to do. This was not because I didn't think I wasn't qualified but had more to do with the working environment. But now things are rolling. Change is happening. It has taken a year but I finally feel like my school is becoming a better place.

It all started with a little bladder infection back in July. My Peace Corps nurse sent me to the doctor who also happens to serve on the board of directors at my school. After she checked me out she asked me how things were at the school. I was brutally honest and told her that they were awful and we needed more leadership. Things were really going downhill without a "true" prinicipal. She went to the board and demanded they bring in someone immediately until they can hire a long term principal.

In august they hired Patricia, a thirtysomething Samoan who has spent the last 10 years in America. She's fluent in both languages and has been an absolute blessing to me and the school. We make a great team and she's been excited about all of my ideas. She encouraged me to go forth with my ideas and she made the teachers go along. I wrote a new daily curriculum for the teachers to follow and they are now doing it. I've started conducting workshops once a week after school for the teachers and almost all of them come. During the day, I now co-teach with a different teacher each week and give them suggestions and ideas on how and what to teach.

I convinced the teachers we needed to dispose of our old junky playground equipment and I wrote a letter to a New Zealand company to donate a new playground. I put in an application requesting 2 computers from another organization (a all-volunteer, non-government organization that formed to put on workshops and camps for Samoan youth...and I'm a member). With any luck, we'll get these new computers and we can start using technology to teach our students. Every wednesday we now take the students down the road to another school that has huge fields to do a sports day. I just called the school and asked if we could use the fields when they weren't in use. They've been delighted to have us come every week. A teacher who has seen us out there every week wanted her students to interact with our students. So yesterday she brought her class to our school and they gave us a huge donation of clothes, toys, books, and school supplies.

So, I'm in a good place right now. I hope this post doesn't sound too boastful. I just wanted to let you all know that I'm feeling good about being here. After a year, I finally feel like Samoans are taking something from me in exchange for all that I've learned from them.

If you want to, you may send things.

I haven't wanted to do this until this point. I'm ready to ask you all for donations. I finally feel like my school is in a place where it would put donations to good use. If you would like there are some items we could use at the school that are difficult to buy here. These definitely don't need to be new. If it's something that you have in your house that you don't use anymore, that's perfect. Here is a list if you are feeling like you might want to help.

  • Children's videos

  • Children's music (cassettes or CD's)

  • Educational computer software on CDROM (our students don't speak
    English, but anything that teaches kids, numbers, colors, sorting,
    matching, etc. would be good)

  • A Dry Erase board and dry erase markers

  • Colored Construction Paper

You can mail these items directly to me at:

Amanda Kucich, PCV
Peace Corps
Private Mail Bag
Apia, (Western) Samoa
South Pacific