Since early December, I’ve been free from obligations. There’s an interim period between training and when school starts that tends to last about a month and a half. While many may think that this is a great time to go on vacation or to lounge around, that’s really not the case for newly minted Peace Corps Volunteers. We were urged to use the time to integrate into our communities. Ways of doing this include going to the various church congregations within the community, meeting the fafeao (pastor), pulenu’u (mayor), and various other members of the village, going to visit other families and simply talking with them, honing your teaching skills, continuing to the learn the language, and participate in activities with your family. All it boils down to is to be a part of the village that you’ll be living in for the next two years.
So far, I have gone to the EFKS Church (Congregational), Morman Church, and the 7th Day Advantists. As a person who is not particularly church inclined in the States, it has been an extremely interesting and at times confusing experience for me. My sister Lema has graciously been declared my chaperone/guide for my stay here, and has accompanied me on all of my different church trips. She came in particular help during the 7th Day Advantist Sunday as we were invited to a to’ona’i (meal) afterwards and she could help to translate my formal speech of thanks afterwards for those present.
I’ve also used this time to work on my records for the coming school year. I’ve decided on which tests I want to conduct at the beginning of the year to appropriately decide a placement level for each child. I want to focus on alphabet awareness, alphabet sounds, phonics level, and sight words. With a little help from Excel, I’ve come up with a computer program to work out averages for each child throughout the school year to come as well as to show averages within a grade and to see over the long run any improvements that (will!) occur. I’m excited to start so I can get down to business!!
Today the volunteers on Upolu were evacced into Apia because of an incoming Hurricane Gary. Everyone is slightly paranoid after the last Hurricane became so devastating that they’re being overly cautious this time. So here I am in a hotel room with Lu and Millie, playing Scrabble as we wait out the wind and rain.