Monday, August 9, 2010

A Recap of the First Few Weeks

Last Sunday, I moved into my village and wrote a letter to my grandmother all about the first few weeks here in American Samoa. I thought I'd share the contents here, as I get online for the first time since the move.

I've now been in American Samoa for just over three weeks, and I'm still very pleased with my decision to come. We were met by the WorldTeach staff and a few DoE reps when our plane landed in Pago Pago (pronounced Pahngo Pahngo). After everyone cleared customs, we loaded our luggage into the back of a box truck and piled all of the volunteers into a school bus. The bus took us on a short trip to Nu'uli Voc Tech High School, our home of the first 2 weeks of our stay. 2 classrooms had been cleared of furniture and set up with foam mattresses for the 22 volunteers.

One of the female dorms

There was a large kitchen, also, that WorldTeach kept filled with breakfast foods and snacks during our stay. We also had showers which, unfortunately, were filled with mosquitoes! The school kindly opened their internet access to us, so we were able to keep in touch during the 2 weeks we were there. I haven't had internet since, which is why this blog and other electronic content ran dry for a while.

So far, most of the days have been filled with orientation trainings. Every day but Sunday, we have had a teacher-training session in the morning, followed by language class and practice. After a lunch provided by the DoE, we've had afternoons full of more teacher-training. The days have pretty much been fillef rom 8-5 or much later. 

WorldTeach Volunteers with our Samoan Instructors
We were invited to attend a staff development conference hosted by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) that was absolutely fabulous! They introduced great ways to incorporate the incredible environment we're living in into the classroom and even aligned them to the standards. I can't wait to try some of the activities out with my class. The goal is to promote science literacy in classrooms and to build awareness of problems with the oceans and pollution, especially here in American Samoa. 

For the conference, we got to wear our "uniform." Samoans are big on uniforms! For any special event, a specific fabric is chosen, and people have outfits made at sew shops. We have a WorldTeach uniform that consists of a printed lavalava (aka sarong) and white shirt. I'll also have a uniform for school, but I don't know what that will look like yet. My host family recently attended a wedding, and there was a uniform for the family. It's fun, but I really don't like to stick out so much in a crowd... especially when the color of my skin already makes me stick out as being "different." 

The crew wearing our uniform at the NOAA Conference
Speaking of my classroom, I just found out TODAY that I will be teaching a self-contained 4th grade class! I'll switch with the 3rd grade teacher for one period per day so that (s)he can teach Samoan Studies to my kids, and I'll teach some subject to his/hers. I'm SO relieved not to be teaching 8th graders (elementary is considered K-8, and there was a good chance that I'd be doing a rotation of 5th-8th graders - yikes!). I've already met a little girl who will be in my 4th grade class, so I'm getting excited. School starts in a week! 

I'll get this posted for now, as my time is running short. Hopefully I'll get some pictures and posts up of the kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and other activities soon. For now, I'll leave you with the view from my house in the morning.

A Vatia Sunrise


  1. Ok, now I am jealous - after I saw the view.

  2. This is beautiful! I am from Vatia and I was browsing through some pictures of our village and came upon your blog. Thank you so much for all your did during your stay at our village. I left and joined the military in 1999, but I enjoy every visit back home. Again, Thank you for impacting our village, most especially the young ones you were able to teach! God Bless!!


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