Monday, June 10, 2013


Exam week.
Typical day at school
Sadly school, teaching and education is not much of a priority in Samoa. During exams week it felt even less of a priority than before.
I normally teach 3 hours of classes a day, which is good compared to the 4-5 hours I am there for. During exam week my students are busy with the tests and I can not pull out my reading groups. So, instead I either plan for next term, roam around, read my book or ask teachers what I can do to help them.
Whenever I lock myself in my classroom
I've observed the year 2 teacher  during the first day of exam week. I was in her class typing up some lesson plans while the students finished their exams and sat at their desks. They literally did nothing but sit there. Nothing to read, no games to play just had to sit.
Eventually the students got bored enough to get up and play around, once the class got out of control she stood up with her ruler and pretty much herded them into the corner where they had to sit and again do nothing. I was only in there for 2 hours and she probably had to do this 10 times. She is correcting exams, getting up herding them into the corner and then once again going back to correcting exams.
She must not understand their lack of attention span and amount of energy these kids have. Poor things.
Year 1
Year 1
Later in the week my Pule (Principal) asked me to watch year 1 since the teacher was not there that day. As much as I do not want to babysit I agreed since I was not doing anything else anyway.
Never again at the end of the day I thought to myself.
We colored, sang songs, made noise like rain and I read them stories... That took an hour. We played games and colored some more. It was hard keeping control of the students but at the end of the day I was exhausted yet felt accomplished.
The next day I was asked to watch them again... I felt like I was going to cry! But of course I said yes, I was not doing anything really productive so of course I can help.

Art project
Coloring, more songs, more games and chopping instructions in Samoan I left the room for 5 minutes to come back to chaos!
Students were jumping from desk to desk, some climbing the walls, 8 of them were full on crying as if they just lost a finger or something. I even had one student on MY desk swinging a stick from side to side with a wild look in his eyes yelling, his mouth as wide as it can go screaming at the top of his lungs AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I just pictured him yelling, "I AM SPARTAN!!"
I had 28 students all under the age of 6 and they were going wild!
After 2 students got into a fist fight I gave up. I had the other teacher help me manage the chaos. All she had to do was grab the ruler and start walking around. Poor students had fear in their eyes and immanently sat down ready to listen. She did not hit any of them (luckily) but they knew she would. It was an automatic response but not out of respect for the teacher, fear.
Never again do I wish to watch any of the lower grades. Lesson learned.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

13.1. It's a joke right?

Zach, Chris and I chatted the day before the race asking each other, "Are we really doing this?" "This is a joke right?"
I have never ran that distance before in my life. I trained and the most I ran during training was 9 miles, once. My goal for the race was just to finish.
Early that day of the race Zach has already started an hour before us. He was running the whole marathon while Chris and I were running half. We started out steady together in the dark cool morning and within 2-3 miles he sped up where I then started my run on my own.
So impressed with him! 
Amazing supporters!
The first 6 miles were a breeze and enjoyable. I felt strong and confident. As Chris was passing me on the way back he informed me I was in 3rd place (out of the 11 women running). Obviously that boosted me up more and I then got the "runner's high." I could go forever with a smile on my face. A bit after hitting the half way point I started to loose faith in myself. I was slowing down and even started to walk at times. I kept thinking, I'm in 3rd I can not let that woman get in front of me! I could not even see her but that did not stop me from looking back. I was pushing, pushing, pushing to keep going, go faster, can not let her beat me. I got anxiety and was uncomfortable. I had to win! My brain was doubting if I could even do it, my thoughts became negative and I was miserable.
Woot woot! 
I then ran past a village, "Letoge" and it reminded me of my mudra from previous meditations which then kicked into effect. "Let Go."
I took extra deep breaths, repeated the mudra in my head a few times and felt a huge weight life from my body. I completely, "let go," went at my own pace and when the woman passed me for 3rd I could not have been more relieved. I was not running the race to win, I was running the race to finish. That was my goal and once it came back into sight I started to enjoy my run again.
Next year I will have a stronger goal, I will beat my time and can possibly even place but this year I accomplished my first 1/2 marathon!
Christ took 8th place out of everyone (30+ runners) running the 1/2 marathon and his time was 1.50 hours . Go Christ!
For the whole marathon first place was a famous Samoan runner, second place was a Navy guy visiting and third was our very own Peace Corps Volunteer, ours truly Zach!
So proud of both my boys and am VERY excited to run in a relay with them in September!
Ally and Kate met us at the finish line which was amazing to have such support! Thank you ladies! You being there meant a lot more to me than you will even know!
I ended up running the marathon in 2.31 hours. A slow steady pace. I took 4th place and could not have been happier. I finished! I ran 13.1 miles and am ready to do it again!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Birthday the Shit out of this!"

Birthday Jump!
I started my 24th year in this world off right. I jumped off a waterfall! Not just any waterfall but a 50 foot waterfall!
The river hike is something I think anyone who is visiting Samoa and is into intense hiking should do! It is a 3-6 hour hike through a river, climbing up through the trails and 4 falls to jump off of. Each one getting higher than the first.
My mom, Brad, Zach, Chris and I did the hike together while the other PCV marched in the "parade" for Independence Day. ("Parade," meaning, it was an all day wait to walk for 5 minutes with a banner. Oh Samoa).
We all hiked and just the boys and I jumped while my mom took photos and cheered us on.
(However at the end my mom did climb up one fall and jumped through it!! Also scared of heights, go mom!!!)
With each jump I had to go last. I am deathly scared of heights but I do not let it stop me from doing things. I have gotten better over the years and on this hike my eyes did not water once! (well, maybe a little before the last jump but all the sketchy slippery climbs and jumps before I held strong!)
While watching the others jump I had to prepare myself and talk myself into a calm state each time. Getting confidence while watching the others free fall until hitting the water.

On the last jump, the 50 footer I had to go first. It was something I thought about the entire time.
After the instructor jumped I stood at the top and tried to think why I was up there again. Why am I jumping? Why did I make this decision? What the hell was I thinking?
I turned around and saw my friends encouraging to not think about it and just jump. I look down at my mom who is waving with a big smile and the camera in her hand and then I look down, down down down down at where I hope to land. After a few more deep breaths calming my body and trying to clear my mind I turn to the group and say, "I'm going to Birthday the shit out of this!" then I jump.... I fell for what seemed like the forever! (Maybe 3 seconds). You'd think falling would be a flash and you're in the water but I even had enough time in my brain to think, "Wow, I'm falling for a long time. Aren't I there ye.." and SPLASH!
I came up confused and lost.
"I know I need to get out of the water! I can not breath and my head hurts. I think I'm half blind, am I missing a contact? Can't breath! Why can't I breath???"
When I looked down to see how much further I had, the impact hit my head really hard and threw me back. I somehow face planted off the waterfall!!
Even with face planting, which is really funny to say, I'll still do it again! Maybe not next weekend but I will be jumping off before I leave Samoa.
Everyone else landed fine and the videos are fun to watch.
After the shock wore off I felt higher than I was before I jumped. I did it! I jumped off a 50 foot waterfall and lived to tell the blog!
It was an amazing way to start my 24th year in this world! I wonder how I'll be starting my 25th.

Getting ready to jump!