Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

They do not celebrate Valentine's Day here in Samoa, I know it is a made up Holiday for money but I still could not ignore the fact it was a Holiday.
I always have a crush or a boyfriend or SOMETHING on Valentine's Day, this year was totally different that I have ever celebrated before and I loved it!
My "private" beach! 
My Valentine's Day was awesome! After school I went to the beach and did a bunch of Yoga, laid in the sun and walked in the water. I rode my bike(!!!) too.
Real food! 
In my Yoga practice I sent love out to the world, everyone I know and cared about along with sending love to myself. Ya know, as a dear friend would put it, "all that hippy shit." But- it made me feel better and it WAS Valentine's Day after all, figured I should do something for my Valentine.
The sun was warm but not too hot, the water was refreshing and my mind felt peaceful.
Later that night I went to dinner with some friends at a resort near my village. Yummmm real food! It was delicious!
So whether you realized it or not I was thinking of YOU on Valentine's Day.
*Be mine! Valentine!*

Guava Day

                                       Guave Day                                                     
Fresh lemons

Tea is not just tea in Samoa, sometimes it is referring to a snack with tea, it can be breakfast (like my oatmeal my host mum calls it my morning tea) or it can actually be meaning just tea. My school has "tea" every morning for the students and teachers. It is usually bread with some homemade jam (my neighbor Lynne makes it, from guave, mango,  vi, whatever fruit she can find. YUM!) and if the bread is not bought Lynne makes SOME kind of pastry full of protein to feed the kids. (Coconut biscuits are my favorite with a dab of jam in the middle).
Guava pickins!

After school one day some of Year 7 and 8 asked me to go picking Guava and lemons with them. Guavas are sooo sooo good! I love every part of it, skin, seeds and all!  it was so fun to get out and into the jungle! After we went to Lynne's house and made jam with coconut biscuits for the student's tea. We baked 120 biscuits!
For a reward Lynne took us for a ride in the car and we had a picnic! Pop corn, sandwiches and Koolaid. The Kooliad was sweet and cold, never thought I would be excited to drink Kooliad before. Oh how my taste buds have changed here in Samoa.

If you had one million dollars...

If you had one million dollars...

My friend back home is doing a research project and asked me ask some Samoan teenagers questions.
Before reading the rest of this blog, take an extra minute to think of your own answers...

If you had a million dollars, what would you buy and why?
If three wishes could come true, what would you wish for?
Who is (are) your hero(s), why?
What do you want to be when you "grow up" and how will you get there?
What are some goals in your life and what are you doing to reach these goals?

These answers aren't as depth as I could get because lack of communication.

Lika, 17 yr girl
Million dollars- Build a house in Samoa, buy a car (don't know what kind), give money ($200) to my family and visit the Philippines. I love the Philippines,
I see it in the movies.
Three wishes and why-
Ask for two story house- so it would only be me and my husband and peaceful.
I want money so I can buy more clothes to wear to church and dhores in.
Wish to marry a Filipino, then I don't have to live in Samoa.
(Not sure why she didn't just wish to not live in Samoa...)
Grow up- A weather girl. I will go to school and then the University.
Heroes- and why.
Future husband - He is my lover.
My father- He is the head of my family.
Jesus- He is my savior.
Goals in life- Go to school. Get married. Have a family.
What are you doing to accomplish these goals?
Do the chores so I can be a good wife.

Mele, 19 yr girl
Million dollars- Buy a car and clothes because I want new stuff.
Travel overseas like America and the pacific islands. I want to meet actors and have fun.
Three wishes and why-
Wish my mom's mouth was shut. She wouldn't be nagging all day.
Wish I was a famous person so the whole world would know me and watch my movies.
Be a boy. Boys can do anything they want. They can go to the plantation, play rugby and lift heavy things.
Grow up- A nurse, going to school to get there.
Hero- and why.
My lover- Teach me to XOXO
Pastor- Teaches me lessons from the bible.
God- Father of everyone and can bless us all.
Goal in Life-
I want to be a nurse. I am going to the University.
I want to speak English. I practice everyday. I study my dictionary, listen to music and read the lyrics, read American books and talk to Madi.
I want six children and will practice xoxo every day. HA ha ha ha no don't put that!!!
I wonder if Samoans are not used to being asked to think creatively, outside the box or think for long term (like goal setting). A lot of the answers were my examples because they couldn't think of an answer themselves. I had to ask multiple times in different ways to get THEIR answer instead of my example.
The concept of "Why" was also a challenge. I wonder if Samoans don't think "why" very often. They don't ask out loud why something is the way it is or why they believe/think something.
Their world is based around God, family and life in Samoa. You can tell by their answers these girls are unaware of what else is really out there.
I found their answers interesting and figured I would share.
I don't have any photos that relate so here are some random ones.
This is where I randomly stayed one night.
Typical beach fale view.
Waiting for the bus.
Typical beach fale

Midnight Funeral

Funeral at midnight

Luckily I did not have to attend the full 6-9 hour (sometimes longer) funeral this time. Funerals can be 2 day events for everyone to come and give their respects. I went with the church choir to give gifts and perform the traditional ceremony.
Me and my host mum.
My neighbor SaOli with my
my host mum, Eterei.
We arrived at 10 pm to practice singing for an hour before going to the actual home of the funeral. 10 pm! When we showed not everyone was there yet so we did not actually get started until 10:40. As soon as I was told it started at 10 pm I knew I was in for a long night, it was a weekday too so getting up at 6 am the next morning was going to be rough. My host mum warned me to have a rest, I should have listened!
We head over to the home at 11:40 and I had to walk in first carrying flowers while ladies behind me had a long lacy cloth. I place the flowers down while they wrap the cloth around the casket. Once we all sit down there are words being said and we sing. We sang for about an hour then more words were said. After everyone went to another fale for gifts. I guess because we brought singing, gifts and showed our respect the family has to thank us by giving us bread, butter, food and more food. Oh and more food. Always food!
It was a really really long night and I did not get back until 3 am. I think they had it so late because it is hot during the day. Unless you work, a lot of Samoans sleep during the hottest times of the day, probably making it easier to stay up until 3 am.
I was surprisingly full of energy and I think it is because it was the first time my village got together outside of church since school started, kinda fun socializing! When I say socializing, I do not mean my typical socializing where you are catching up and hearing how everyone is but.. I say hello and tell them whether school is good or not. Tell them the village is great, ask if their family is good or not without going into details. (Language is a barrier)! I had the same conversation with everyone I knew in the village and I know it sounds boring but it was fun feeling like I was included in my village!! My host mum even let me walk back without her!! I was with others from the village but at least she was not trying to hold my hand the whole time, I think I am making progress.

Giving a Voice

Giving a Voice

It was only my 3rd day in school, still only teaching one hour, working on improving my schedule, trying to remember the names of the other teachers and some of the students but for some reason my determined self decided it was a good time to start a PTA. Or, at least plant the idea of it.
I was talking to my neighbor, Tapu, about the money parents give to feed the students every morning. It is 2 tala per family, whether you have 1 or 10 students you pay 2 tala. Really cheap, only 8 tala a month (tala is like a dollar). The parents raised up 900 tala before school started and the School Committee "lost" the money. (Sadly this happens often in Samoa). The 900 tala the parents saved up and actually paid is just lost without any explanation and nobody (that I know of) is fully investigating. Tapu's idea was for me to be in charge of the money instead of the School Committee and the conversation led to the idea starting of a PTA!
Having a PTA will help with more than just the bread and money situation and I have a lot of ideas, we can do parent teacher conferences, maybe a maturation program the parents can be apart of, homework center where parents take turns helping all the students, camps... It will be awesome to have more support from the parents and build a strong relationship with the teachers. Not to mention- if there are problems, it is easier when there are multiple voices instead of just one. Safer in groups!
I asked my Pule (Principal) about having a PTA and I could tell she was not for the idea, (more eyes on her and the teachers, who wants that?) her excuse was she was so so busy and we needed permission from MESC (Ministration of Education), if the parents needed to talk with the teachers they could do that on their own time. She told me not to worry about that.
**I am always being told "not to worry about that" when they do not want me to do something. Decorating my class before the man teacher wanted me to move classes, "oh do not worry about that" don't worry about cleaning your classroom, or I want to go to the main city and my host mum doesn't want me to go, I ask about the bus, "oh, do not worry about that" don't worry about the bus schedule, always- "Do not worry about that."**
Parents showing up EARLY :)
Tapu Ti, he is the MAN! High Chief of the Village
also one of my closest friends here.
So I planted the idea and was turned down. Tapu, my neighbor, told me about an article from a few years ago when a student died from corporal punishment. She was 8 years old, already sick and the teacher beat her, put her in the hospital and she died. The article was about the Prime Minister of Samoa encouraging schools to have PTAs to hopefully prevent things like this from happening, the Prime Minister AND MESC both support PTAs. I printed out the article, highlighted the parts about encouraging PTAs and showed her the next day. I told her- Look! We do not need permission! They want us to have it, isn't it so great! And I went on and on about how wonderful it will be for our school to have a PTA. I could tell she was not pleased but what else could she say? She does not have to be apart of it, none of the teachers do. They can be but they do not HAVE to be.
I sent out notices to all the students about the meeting being held in 4 days. The notice said everyone has the same voice and to come see what this "American Program" is all about. (Everyone has the same voice... Because here in Samoa if you have a title or are older you get more of a say and make all the decisions, but in my program we are all on the same level). I sent out another notice the day of the meeting. My Pule seemed concerned but did not say anything and let me do my thing.
The day of the meeting Tapu and I were guessing how many people would show. He said he tried a PTA years ago but only 5 people showed up once... The meeting started at 5:00 and people were even showing early! Strange for Samoa!! The meeting lasted 2 hours and only a little bit of it turned into the Fa'aSamoa
(meaning long speeches thanking and giving respect instead of just getting straight to the point).
We discussed WHAT the PTA is, talked about the situation with the bread and appointed 3 positions making me the President. (ME? President of the PTA. I don't have any kids, not a certified teacher in the states, NEVER have I ever attended a PTA meeting in my life or know much about it, can't speak Samoan and yet I am elected President.) I will be President for the first bit teaching them how to run a PTA. Once they know how then I will step down and still be a member, hopefully by the time I leave Samoa they will be able to continue on their own. I do not know what is being said 80% of the time so I got someone to translate and keep a record of what is being said. At the meetings I glance at the paper during so I can help lead the conversation...
We are going to run the meetings (for now) every 2 weeks. We scheduled when the next meeting will be and I said I'd sent out a notice as a reminder. They LOVED the notices, never have they had a piece of paper sent home for a meeting or announcement. Something so simple and easy I learned from the states makes a HUGE difference.
Total of 45 people in the meeting! 
We had 45 people parents attend! 45!!!!Even if none of them come again, I am glad they know the option is there.
Auala's new PTA
The second meeting was on a Saturday and some reason another village meeting was scheduled at the same time... Who knows if it was an accident but only 10 people came. I did have a lot of people apologize for missing and wanted to go but priorities in the village they could not. Whether the meeting schedules was on purpose or not to discourage me I don't know but I already decided I will have the meetings on every other Thursdays until it is a known thing that it is always that day for the meetings and hopefully it will be moved up in the priorities of the village.
My host mum (also a teacher) is not a fan of the PTA. She was upset when she heard I was the President and in charge of the money (for now, just teaching them how to keep a record so it can not get "lost" again). She told me "not to worry about that," with the money until after my PC meeting. My PC came on Monday, I told PC to let my host mum know PC supports the PTA as well... not sure just yet how this is going to turn out. I'll keep you updated. Just another speed bump, hopefully a small one but at least we have the wheels turning.

Healthiest Rat in Samoa

Healthiest Rat in Samoa

They are always on the walls and ceilings,
love seeing these guys around.
Some of my favorite sounds of Samoa is at night when it is peaceful and the majority of the village is sleeping. I love hearing my own breath as I start to fall asleep, the ocean crashing and tumbling, the sound of my toilet flushing meaning I have running water that day and the best sound is the lizards chirping in my room. My least favorite sounds are the misquotes piercing my ears with their buzzing, dogs that go crazy at night barking nonstop for sometimes over an hour and the least favorite is the rats scurrying around! Yup, rats. They live in the ceilings and the walls. When I first moved here I lived in a small beach fale and did not have much of a roof so rats were never a problem. My PC friend however lived in a house and I was weirded out at first hearing them move about the ceilings. Now- sadly the noise is something I am used to, although still hate it.
So- I know they are here but only by sound until one day...
I have an emergency bag with clothes and food in case I have to hurry and flea from a cyclone or tsunami. I was going through the bag and I noticed the noodles were scattered all over and cracker crumbs were everywhere. I had heard the rats under my table awhile ago but I just ignored the noise, pretending they did not exist but now I have seen some proof! Went from the level to hearing and now seeing evidence. Lesson learned- Okay Madi, do NOT leave food out and eventually they will go away.
I dumbly kept forgetting, once I saw bite marks in some guavas I left on the table in my room and another time a peanut container with a small chewed up hole in the lid. It was either the rats would eat my food or leave it in the kitchen and my family would eat my food... I decided I would rather my family then to have a new family of rodents living in my room. I usually go to sleep around 1-2 every night and one night around 11 pm I was actually tired early! Getting ready for bed and excited to get a full nights rest I heard those nasty buggers under my bed and I looked! Why oh why did I look I do not know! It looked at me and we made eye contact! It's just a rat, I know it is more scared of me but for some reason I jumped back, my heart started racing and I totally wigged out for over an hour. I could not sleep! It's not like it is going to attack my face, however it took me awhile to calm down.
My new friend!
I got better and better and eventually stopped leaving food in my room and even put out some poison for them to eat hoping they would go away and die.
These things are bigger than my hand.
Hadn't seen any proof for awhile that they were around and I even heard them less and less in the walls. Did not think I had much of a rat problem until they stopped coming around.
Most things are packed up in suitcases or bags because of the creatures, critters and bugs. I have a "backup bag," with things like extra toothbrushes, shampoo, razors, contact solution and a zip-lock bag full of vitamins. SOME of my vitamins I put into a container and the extra is left in the backup bag.
*&(*#&$^&*   !!!
As I was looking in my backup bag I noticed some vitamin shells were next to the bag with some ants... then I realized it was missing! Somehow a rat carried the bag out of my room! Whether it ate the entire thing including the zip-lock bag or somehow dragged it out of my room I do not know but what I do know is that little @*&(*^*&W$)(@ ate ALL my vitamins!! I can not even FIND those vitamins here in Samoa and my Dad sent them to me!!! It was an expensive find for that little *&^*&!!! Healthiest rat in Samoa! UUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!
I was SO MAD!! Today I was reading on my bed and I heard the rats in the walls, I sat very quietly until it came into my room thinking I was gone. It was walking across my room and I picked up my running shoe, threw it as hard as I could and BAM!! Knocked it out cold!!
My host mom heard the thud/ me yell/ the rat scream (ya it totally screamed) and ran into my room. She was so freaked out and I was so ampted up but did not want to touch it. We got my sister, by the time we grabbed her there were already ants headed its way onto the rat. Things need to be cleaned up quick here!
I constantly kill bugs (all sorts of sizes), I killed a chicken and now a rat. What's next Samoa?! Bring it on!

I'm here from America for an hour a day???

I'm here from America for an hour a day???
(Caution: long post!)

A brief description of my project is to take reading classes three times a week, (2 groups per grade, advanced reading and "at risk") from years 4, 5 and 6 (they call it years instead of grades). Then every two weeks help year 2 with English and observe the class when I have time. My Pule (Principal) and all the teachers know my project, they know why I am here but that does not mean they understand or really care.
My Pule originally told me my teaching time will be from 7-8, which is before school starts, the sun is not even up yet! As I said in a previous blog, it is best to agree then later try to change it. Best way to do that is to make them think it was their idea (I know it's manipulative), or to just do it my way without saying anything. I had to do both to get the schedule I wanted and it only took me two weeks.
She originally said 7-8, I asked her what time does the sun come up in Samoa and whether it was safe for me to walk in the dark, she then thought about it and said we have to have morning tea (30 minutes) and lotu (church, singing/ a prayer, 30 minutes) at 8 so I can teach class 9-10.
Great! Much better than 7 am! But one hour!? Really? I left my country, my family, my friends, my life to teach for only one hour a day??? REALLY? That is why you applied for a Peace Corps? So I can teach for one hour A DAY??? No no no no no, not this Peace Corps!
Year 5
WEEK 1- I was surprised but the teachers did start teaching on the second day of school! Really impressive for Samoa. I taught year 4 on Tuesday, year 5 on Wednesday and year 6 on Thursday then we had a waste of a day on Friday singing half the day. After my one hour a day of teaching I decorated my room all week and planned lessons. I did not push for my schedule just yet because I had to get my classroom ready anyway and I thought it shouldn't be rushed but done carefully.
School is from 8 am until 1 pm. I stayed later everyday until 2 or 3 because my room really really was a mess!
I was warned about teachers trying to get PC to sub for them and I did not want to be known as the move in sub, (again, NOT why I left home) even though I was only teaching an hour a day. The first week they asked me to sub and I told them I wanted to help but was not allowed because of policy, which is true.
Year 6
It is the first week of school and already one a teacher did not show for school. The students were just writing down what was on the board then sitting there doing nothing the rest of the day. I secretly took them in my class and helped them learn the order of a story, then we made up our own. I am sure the teachers/principal knew what I did, I later told them I had spare time and was the reading teacher so I could only help them read for one hour. I was not doing Science, History, Math or any other subjects I know they would want me to do. I heard if you give them a little they will ask for a lot. Had to put my foot down quick!
Year 8 helping me with my classroom.
Year 8! Visits me often after school.
WEEK 2- My Pule teaches year 5 and 6, making it hard to take them for more than only one hour each per week. However, she was not there Wednesday, Thursday or Friday because of family issues, PERFECT! My opportunity to make my own schedule. On Wednesday I told the other teachers I could help because we are short handed with her being gone, since it is against my policy to sub I can still teach my own class. They seemed really grateful! I asked if I could take year 4 first then help after... I think you get the idea- On Wednesday I took year 4, 5 and 6 for an hour each! So Thursday it was easy for me to take year 4, 5 and 6 for an hour again. Perfect! It is almost exactly what I wanted! Teaching hours are from 9-1:30 with a break from 11-11:30, so I'm teaching 3 out of the 4 hours, YES! I will take it! My next step is for Friday, I can not take all of them Friday because it's a 1/2 day. Last Friday I was a bit annoyed, it felt like a waste of a day. We teach until 11 and after the break is singing... Why these kids need more singing I don't. Why the teachers complain there is not enough time to teach all subjects then they don't teach Friday, again- no idea...
Helping me decorate the classroom.
But this Friday we had 2 teachers missing! TWO!!!! My school has a total of 5 teachers, my pule and me making that 6 teacher and a Peace Corps for 8 classes. Without my Pule, a missing teacher and me not subbing that leaves us with 4 teachers for 8 classes! Again- another opportunity for me to move around the schedule. I told them I would take all three classes until the break. I wanted to take year 4, 5 and 6 for two hours before the break so then next Friday, hopefully when all teachers are there, I would be able to take all classes on Friday but at different times,  maybe 30 minutes or 40 minutes each before they have to sing.
I had a lesson planned for 2 hours but because we were understaffed they did not want to teach, making up some silly "special program" for the first 30 minutes of school. I sat patiently waiting for the students to be dismissed for class, it really was a waste of time. BUT- I got the students for over an hour and that made me happy. It went really well too! At first there was fighting because I had about 45 students trying to sit in 15 chairs, did not think about that since I only made the decision to take all three classes only 5 minutes ago.. had to think quick on my feet! I already had my desks and chairs put in a circle so I had everyone sit on the desk, giving us plenty of room while I gave instructions what we were going to do that day.
I put them into their own grades and did rotations. Over the week I taught them a flash card game and what to do in reading groups, those were two of the rotations and the third was reviewing what they learned that week. The students would write down something they learned with a picture and after could go read or play a game with the others then we would switch. It worked surprisingly smoothly and was not as loud or chaotic as I expected. The teachers were impressed and kept saying Ms. Mati Malosi (meaning strong). Students still sang after the break but the day did not feel like a waste unlike the last week.
WEEK 3- Pule is back... Teachers told her what I did last week taking all grades at different times on Wednesday and Thursday then all of them Friday, it was just a known thing now that I take all grades at different times throughout the week and part time Friday. Wonderful! Week three was a success! I should be only taking them 3 times a week not 5 but that is something I will work on that on week 4.
Again, I was asked to sub- I told them I was too busy with my classes but I will take all my classes for an hour like I am suppose to a day and they can switch around the other classes how they want outside of my time... (I pretty much just said, no, I am going to do what I do everyday and you can figure it out, but I said it a lot nicer!)
All coloring their hands. Some have never help scissors before,
they are great with a machete but new to scissors...? 
Decoration students helped me with.
Week 4- I also heard PCV sometimes get suckered into being "copy bitch," doing secretary work, my pule asked me to make copies today. I know she does not make copies for herself because she is the Principal but I do not want to be the one to always do it either. If I do it for her I am sure other teachers will start asking me as well then eventually BAM- copy bitch. I said all the machines are different and if she would teach me how, if she teaches me how then I can do it next time. She said, oh you don't know how, never mind, don't worry about that and she got another teacher to do it. I knew she was not going to teach me since she does not do them herself and I do not mind her thinking I am not capable of making copies, I am NOT being known as copy bitch at my school.
I'm pretty satisfied with my schedule but it needs a few more tweaks.  I loved teaching everyday but it is only required I meet with each group 3 times a week and I need to find time to observe and help teach year 2 lesson every two weeks, which is the second part to my project... PC was schedules to come out Monday to check on all the Volunteers, some are struggling at home or their schools. (I heard a few PCV, their Principals will not let them teach yet!! I feel so bad for them!)
So - PC was coming to my school Monday and Monday morning I told my Pule I had to prepare for their arrival and I could not have class. I explained they were coming to check on me making sure I am teaching and I am suppose to be observing year 2 and I have not done that yet, I am worried what the PC might say and I do not want to get into trouble! (Soooooooo not true) Her brilliant idea is for me to not teach Mondays and to observe year 2 every Monday then to teach the rest of the days... Score!
It took me 2 weeks to get the majority of the schedule I wanted, 1 week to try it out and I think week 4 it is now complete! Guess I will find out next Monday for sure, I'll keep you updated.

First Day Jitters!

First Day Jitters

No idea what to expect, not worried about my schedule, my placement or what is going to happen. I went into the day fully ready to see what it had in store for me. I've learned not to ask what times things are but just wait to be told when to leave. I am never sure what is happening or when it is actually going to happen here in Samoa. But, school DID start on the day it was suppose to. My host mom is a teacher so it is easy for me to know when I need to get ready and go to school. We woke up early, put on our dresses (not a puletasi, score! Free wear the first week) and took our 5 minute walk to school. We arrived at 8 am, all the kids were also dressed in casual attire and playing in the yard.
We have 116 students but I think only 80 showed up the first day. The teachers had a meeting where I could only pick up 5 words from it and then my pule (Principal) and I went over a schedule for me. She wanted me to teach for only an hour a day from 7-8... School doesn't start until technically 9 and it's still dark until around 7:30... Plus, what students is going to get up early enough to leave for school before 7? BUT- I learned in Samoa it's best to agree and later with your solution find a way to have them think of that solution on their own. A bit manipulative I know however, that is how I have survived all my challenges so far. It only took me two weeks to convince them to give me the schedule I wanted. (Which is another post).
On the first day students come to school to clean up and get the school ready for the year. After our meeting, the students dashed around to clean the desks, sweep the floors and help the teachers organize their classrooms. I stayed back and asked my Pule what the meeting was about. She speaks enough English to be able to explain things, sometimes I have to ask the same question 4 or 5 different ways but at least we have some communication. I figured she wouldn't tell me all that happened whether she forgot something or does not think I need to know so I wrote down all the Samoan words I picked up on and asked her about each one. I think I got 80% of what the meeting was about, which is better than what I got during the actual meeting.
After she showed me my classroom. It is upstairs next to the library and two other classes are being held on the same level. I love my classroom! It was dirty from old glue, paper and dirt on the walls, garbage everywhere, the chalk board is a mess from probably years without a good scrub and there is a cabinet filled with junk, cobwebs... it really needed some work and I started right away.
As I was cleaning I thought to myself how I want my room to be set up and wishing I came to the school weeks before and my thoughts we interrupted by the male teacher Mr. Vau.
"Dangerous" holes.
Mr. Vau was saying sorry but he thinks I need to move rooms. I should use the room downstairs because the room I am in is not safe. I hated the idea of moving, I already had plans for this room and was comfortable.  I have very little control or say in my life for now and things are constantly changing, to have another thing change was almost heartbreaking. I asked what he meant and he started pointing around the room saying, "there are holes in the floors and mold on the ceiling. I don't want you to have to walk up and down the stairs in the sun and rain, plus the students might slip on the floor is they are wet."...
Okay. I think to myself, all the floors have holes, all the ceilings have mold and I can race anyone of you up the stairs and beat you before you even get half way up but instead of arguing I agreed and said I see the holes and I will go look at the room downstairs.
I hated it! I hated the new room. It is probably just as good as the other but my mind did not think so. I was finding all the negative things- It was too big, I would have to start over cleaning, I hate the set up with the chalk board, I loved being upstairs where it was quieter from the other classes, not to mention less traffic with the other students... I did NOT want to be here the next two years. I am sure I would have loved it if they gave me that classroom first but my mind was already made up on the original one.
I went back to my room upstairs and sulked for about 5 minutes before I realized this is my first challenge in the school and it is worth the fight. Somethings you do not fight for, like going to church or wearing this dress, eating that, going here but my room was necessary.
Students helping me clean.
Before Picture
He came back in asking what I thought of the room-
Me- "It's a lovely room, thank you for worrying about mine and the student's safety."
Vau- "Do not worry about cleaning up or decorating this room, we will have the students clean your room downstairs."
Process of cleaning, felt like living in
a UPS package.
Me- "Well I like the room but, I think it is best I am next to the library. It is not safe for me to walk up and down the stairs all day for the books I need." Then I went into how I will be very careful with the holes and mold (ALL CLASSES HAVE HOLES AND MOLD!), he agreed and said I should not move classes and it is safer for me to be upstairs.
I later realized the reason he wanted me to move, he wanted to use my room as a storage space for all the extra desks and benches that were already upstairs. It was too much of a problem to just MOVE all the furniture downstairs to that room... He was not even the one moving it! It was the students... ohhh my.
Doesn't matter- either way MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I get to keep my room!

Year 8 helping me with my classroom.
"What did we learn?" wall and
game cabinet.

Free hand drawing.
I regret giving high fives after realizing all
the germs. (Rookie mistake!)
It's all about the fist bump now. 
My individual reward system.

Class reward system.

Eraser and chalk holder.
NEVER would I have this in my classroom in the states.
Even if I was allowed I wouldn't!
But- trying to put up positive words,
ones they can relate to.
Check out that board!!
Scrubbed this thing!! 

Free hand drawing!