I have no real excuse for not being terribly active with my website other than I’ve been choosing to be busy as a volunteer and perhaps a bit lazy when it comes to carting myself into town on a hot, bumpy bus ride to then only have to pay for Internet time at a café. But alas, I now have my laptop computer hooked up in my fale and can now pre-write all my documents and spend very little time in the café. My goodness, how I have missed this convenience of laying in my bed in my own home while at the same time using the computer. Okay, enough rambling about the conveniences of home I miss. So would you all like to know what’s going on with my life in Samoa? Of course you would, why else would you have gone to my website? I’ll begin with the school since it is the entire reason for my being in Samoa. Many projects are underway. The latest most exciting one is that we’ve started a school garden. We don’t have anything planted yet but we have the ground tilled and waiting. This is a project that I’ve wanted to do ever since I got here but had to wait for the right moment. I approached the teachers a few weeks ago about it and they seemed keen but no one was taking the initiative. So I planned a day when we would have the older students out digging up the ground. Well, as luck would have it, it rained that morning. It was also our movie day and while the students and staff were watching the movie the sun came out. I didn’t say anything to anyone, as I did not want to offend. I only went out to the spot and started hoeing. Well, with in five minutes, I had the bus driver, a teacher, and at least five kids all working together to make our garden. With only two days of work we’ve been able to till up a plot of land about 12 feet by 10 feet. Now we are just waiting for supplies to build a fence to keep the roaming chickens out before we start planting. Today, I planned a field trip to the nutrition center at the hospital where the staff there is going to give us a tour of their organic garden and allow us to take cuttings to begin some planting. If all goes as planned I think we should a real garden growing things by the end of April.
My other project that is only in its beginning stages right now is a picture to language program. Several students at the school have little to no language expression abilities although they understand spoken language. To help them learn to communicate another volunteer in the Special Needs Education sector has given me assistance in explaining the Picture Exchange System. The project goes as follows. With the use my very generous principal and her digital camera, we've been taking pictures of anything and everything that our students may want to use or do. Once we print the pictures they will be hung in a specified area of the classroom. The idea is that when the student desires something he/she must point to the picture or bring the picture to the teacher. To reinforce this behavior the teacher must then immediately accommodate the student’s desire. If the student only uses random pointing and grunts to communicate the teacher will only remind the student to use the pictures. The volunteer who gave me this program idea said that nearly 60% of these non-verbal children learn to speak. I have no idea if it will work at our school but I’m willing to give it a try and train our teachers to utilize this program.
I have nearly a thousand ideas for my school but I’ll save it until I get these two things running and off the ground before I challenge my teachers any furthur. I continue to hold weekly workshops for them to upgrade their teaching skills and I have to admit that I am extremely proud of them. The difference in effort between last year and this year that they put into their classrooms is phenomenal. Suffice it to say we have a long road ahead of us yet, but we are now chugging along.
Oh, and P.S. Ao, I have an e-mail for you but I accidentally deleted your e-mail address. Write me and I will send you all the information you need about helping out the schools in Samoa. so, Sorry!