Friday, March 23, 2012

Latest Homework Assignment

This week, we're back from spring. I heard that 4th quarter I should not expect anything school related to get done. There are a few events coming up such as parent-teacher conferences, Island Wide Speech Festival, Flag Day, Prom, Easter, and then graduation. All these events require students to practice for their part and practice is conveniently during class time. With that in mind, my students had one assignment to complete this week, which only a small fraction actually did. I'm trying to improve their writing so their assignment was to answer three short answer questions. The first that I am going to share, answers the question "What are some ways you can change a negative attitude into a positive one?"

The following is by a senior accounting student named Ezra. This is his exact wording.

"Well, there are many ways that I can change a negative attitude into a positive attitude. First, if you have a negative attitude, talk to your parents, tell then what are some of the way that they think it will change your behavior, so you will become a better person. Second, is pray to our Father in heaven, to help you solve whatever difficult problem that you are facing in this life. Fourth, is interact to your teacher, and tell your teacher that you need help, don't shy to talk to your teacher, you might never know, is that what they say to you is the answer to your problem. And last but not least, if you have a bad behavior right now, start today to go church until the last day of the earth, and don't forget to read your bible."

Another student mentioned that "the belt" is "a strategy all Samoan parents always use on their children to straighten out their attitude."

The last question to their assignment asked their opinion on the most important subject in school.

Another senior accounting student on mine, Aljandro answered...

"My mom always tells me that I need to have these two subjects with me when I get into high school is Accounting and Math. I ask her why accounting is important. She told me that accounting helps me when work at big companies. She knows that math is my favorite subject so she didn't have to tell me why I need to take math. I know that you need to have a math in any job you go to. So now I know why accounting is important. Why? It is because it reall helps people to know how the company is doing. Helps me to know if the company is doing good or bad, and if there's a problem I need to fix it early before it becomes a big problem. Plus accounting should always goes together with math."

Reading these made me smile and I hope it will do the same for you!

For next time: my blog regarding my spring break with Suzanne is not yet done. Pictures can be found on Suzanne's facebook. I will also be writing a piece that has to do with Senior Ball that was held last night.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hanging Out At School!

Well, with midterms done there is nothing to do at school today. Its Friday, the last day of school for the quarter, my classroom is clean, and its a half day. The kids are suppose to clean the campus buts its currently pouring outside so I'm keeping them inside so they don't get wet and dirty. Of my first two classes that consists of about 40 kids only about 4 of them showed up. There are a group of boys from church that like to come and hang out- probably to use my AC and my one computer that works now. Anyways they're good kids. Here is some of nonsense we're up to today: making music videos, dancing, playing cards, and using the internet! You can also see my newly redecorated classroom!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


For my financial record keeping class, I decided that instead of a test we were going to do presentations. Its easier for me to grade and testing, for them, is just a pain and a joke. After our accounting unit, which didn't go as well as I would have liked, we moved onto saving and investing. For their midterm, students were required to pair up and create a some kind of presentation (or marketing tool) that would educate others on saving and investing. Their information had to include the obvious; saving and investing as well as budgeting, needs and wants, the 5 factors of risk, diversification, investment options, and it had to be fun and creative. To my surprise, the presentations were fantastic! My students came up with brochures, skits, poems, songs, raps, news broadcasts, and commercials. Below is a song performed by two of my senior boys (one who looks like T-Pain), Daniel and Tua. I've attached their lyrics because the quality of my video isn't great. The song is a spoof off the "Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars.

Good Morning!
We're so smart
we're going to give you our knowledge

Today's midterm we hope we'll get an A
For sharing with you what we know
Put your needs before your wants
Your results will end up marvelous
So if you budget good
You'll get life's big items

You could go to college, buy a house, maybe even a car
Whatever you do, we hope that you'll go farther than us
Because we don't even care

The 5 factors of risk,
its on the board, we hope you've memorized it,
Before... we do.... this (snap and erase board)

Saving is money left over
That you keep
Invest to get benefits
You'll have to take a risk 
If you don't, you gotta ask yourself this
How am I gonna save it?
Invest, we hope we'll past this test

Now were gonna talk about diversification
Don't invest you money in just one things
You have to spread it out to wide to reduce risk
Before you will end up with this (STRESS on the paper)
So remember your options are bonds, stocks, and CD's
Not a disk, hahahahaha..... jokes

O yes we said it
O yes we said it
You heard it
Don't lie cause you're sitting right there

Friday, March 2, 2012

January February Blog Entry

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My last blog entry was overly optimistic. The last two months I’ve been feeling quite the opposite. Since I’ve been back I fell into a huge rut and have really struggled trying to get out. The first half of my experience was so exciting because everything was new. Now it’s not. The little things that use to not bug me, now drive me absolutely crazy. Such things would include…

·         The mouse (mice) in my apartment that pooped all over my clothes, chewed on my textbooks, and again unwantingly joined me in the bathroom
·         The spiders that have built massive webs in my bedroom
·         The huge bee hive on our porch
·         The ants that devour any spec of food left out on the counter or sink
·         The dog fights that happen in the middle of the night right outside my window and then listening to the sounds of the dying dog that lost the fight
·         The rain that is so loud that you have yell when teaching or take a pill to sleep through it
·         The racist dogs that attack white people (like the 5 on my birthday)
·         My classroom falling apart: AC broken, outlets don’t work, computers don’t work, got a printer but outlets don’t work to plug in printer, and no toner and paper available if printer were to work
·         Sitting on the bus in your own seat and then having the biggest Samoan accidently sit on top of you, popping your personal bubble, pinching your skin, and then proceeding to step on your foot
·         Getting a sun burn that makes you look like a lobster, getting sun/heat stroke, and then having your body peel for a week afterwards
·         Getting soaked to the bone because you got caught in the rain
·         Staff meetings that last forever and nothing gets accomplished
·         Not having access to a bathroom at school when you have the stomach flu
·         Making the mile long walk to and from school and being drenched in sweat before the school day begins
·         A computer virus
·         Taking a shower and begin sweating before you even get out
·         Not being able to take a personal day for personal day reasons
·         Being accused for something you didn’t do because of a rumor that was heard through coconut wireless
·         When the internet at school doesn’t work
·         Losing your ATM card and not being able to access your money for a month
·         Students peeing on and/or trying to kick down on my classroom door or putting dog poop in front of it
·         Having two sties, the stomach flu, 15 boils on my backside, mosquito bites on my face, and a head cold
·         Having some of your friends and family think your life is a piece of cake because you live on a tropical island and get to go the beach every day. (SO FALSE!! I get to a beach maybe once every two week and tropical islands are just dirty!)
·         There is no such thing as tap beer, strictly canned and bottled and it’s not cheap
·         Creepy Samoan men with long finger nails staring at you because you are white
·         Having your clothes stink because no matter how many times you wash  them in hot water they will never smell good (and having your things mold and/or rust)
·         Sharing a mini refrigerator with two other people and then having to repeatedly thaw it out because the accumulated chunks of ice get so big you can’t put anything in it
·         Reading news articles about how the inmates in the prison here brew their own beer
·         Having to permanently sub for the most horrible students in the world that flip you off, talk shit about you in Samoan and then lie about it, swear at you in Samoan and then lie about it, draw in permanent maker all over your desks, steal stuff out of your desk, take apart the mouse to the computers that don’t work, rip posters off your walls and tear them apart, put gum all over the floor, and stink up your classroom because they don’t know what a shower is.  O how I love glorified babysitting!

I think that sums it up. I can count the number of times I’ve cried here on one hand. The last time it was over a printer; A PRINTER!  Looking back it seems really stupid and petty, but at the end of a long, hot day all those little things really add up. The principal at school often reminds me to not sweat the small things. That is by far easier said than done because most times you are already sweating and the small things appear to be really big. Some days I have to force myself to get out of bed in the mornings, like yesterday. And you find yourself repeatedly asking this question, “Why the hell am I here?”  

I have discovered that my outlet is laughter. Even though it isn’t funny when these happen at that moment, in hindsight it is; although I’ve never laughed about the damn dogs or mice, because it’s not funny and it never will be. But the other things you can find humor in and then realize that there are worse things that can happen.

I also realize that I would have never had these experiences had I not made the decision to move here for a year. Yes I hate my life sometimes, but when I leave this island in June (Sunday, June 3rd at 11 pm to be exact) I will leave a much stronger person because of these awful things. I will leave thanking those rotten students, those unwanted four legged roommates, those swollen boils on my body, and always being sweaty and dirty. If I can deal with living on this tiny, isolated island in the middle of Pacific Ocean on the equator, I feel like I can do anything. I am a much more confident person and my perspective on life has changed. I am a lot more open minded and accepting than I have ever been. I know I have mentioned this before in my other entries, but I really have learned to live more simply and it’s great. I don’t need to be high maintenance like I was before because it’s not important. Beauty really does come from in the inside (coming from someone who hasn’t showered in a while and is wearing really dirty clothes).

Alright, enough of the serious! I was chatting with one of my cheeky, male senior students the other morning, who thoroughly enjoys smoking pot, cigarettes, and drinking as extracurricular activities. He told me that he thought his senior year was going by fast despite the fact he hates school. I asked him to explain and he answered that he lives for the weekends. That I can relate to. Here is what we’ve been up to that makes the weekdays not so miserable:

·         Climbing Mt Alava (well, wasn’t exactly fun but I’m glad I did it)
·         Swimming in the tide pools
·         Going on a death hike to find Palagi Beach (Palagi means “white” as in white person. This beach got its name because only white are stupid enough go on an hour and a half hike on this 4 inch wide trail on a cliff to get to this beach.)
·         Visiting some of our volunteers on Tau (a beautiful, outer island) for a weekend- too bad the plane didn’t break down and we could have stayed longer
·         Going to a West Side beach for our friend’s birthday
·         Finally booking my flight home
·         Looking into jobs and getting a few interviews
·         Finding a happy hour place that we’re making an every Friday thing
·         Looking forward to spring break when my cousin comes and we can leave this island for a couple days- thank goodness its only 2 weeks away
·         Creating lifetime friendships with other volunteers and my students
·         Students tell you jokes and serenate you because they know you hate life and are trying to make you smile
·         Students bake you a birthday cake and then sing you happy birthday in Samoan then English
·         Have students teach you about their culture
·         Having a student ask you to prom (which is totally acceptable here, weird I know)
·         Knowing your students love it when you go to their football, softball, and basketball game and choir event
·         Your students harmonize to Justin Beiber
·         Your students tell you that your class is their favorite even though you think they may be lying
·         Students come to ask for your advice 
              (Below are the pictures!)

It’s these moments with my students and marveling at the beauty of my island that make up for the not so great ones.

This next week at school is review, the week after is midterms, then spring break. Knowing that I will get a week off is something that keeps me going. I’m really excited to see Suzanne and have the opportunity to show her around here and the other Samoa.  I just booked our flights today and I’m so pumped!








Until next time! Tofa! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Beginning of a New Year!

After spending nine days at home for the holidays, a five and half hour flight to Hawaii, a three hour layover, almost missing my flight because Hawaiian Airlines wanted to beat President Obama out of the airport in Hawaii, and an hour left of my almost six hour flight back to American Samoa I’ve had some time to reflect on this past year. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:
·         February: swam personal best and season best times in my last swim meet of my college career and earned my fourth year letter.
·         March: traveled to Long Beach, California for spring break and won an international business competition (that I spent hundreds of hours working) while taking the maximum credits and recovering from post concussive syndrome.
·         May: after failing my midterms from my post concussive syndrome, graduated with honors with my degree in business accounting and a religion minor.
·         July: six weeks after graduation, moved to American Samoa and taught accounting and record keeping to high school to wild animals and became an advisor for an after school business club.
·         December: home for Christmas to be with family and friends for the holidays- Thanks Grandma!
What a year full of great life experiences and opportunities! Needless to say I’ve learned a lot. Each of us only has this one wild and precious life (thanks PLU for your mission statement) and I intend to live up each day. My decision to come to American Samoa was impulsive but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s taught me to live simply, appreciate the little successes, stop and smell the roses, not be afraid to try new things, RELAX, find peace, and to realize what is important in life. I’ve met some amazingly wonderful people who have deeply enriched my life. I’ll admit that I did come to “find myself,” selfish I know, but, believe it or not, I’ve learned to become selfless, thanks to my kids. I’ve taken down the walls that I had built up and am learning/allowing myself to be comfortable in expressing my emotions.  My 140 student give me hell and I often hate them, but yet love them with all my heart.
 What an adventure 2011 was! I would like to thank everyone (family, friends, swim family, professors, Worldteach, etc.) who has made this year the best one yet! I can’t image what this New Year will hold and I’m excited to find out!
Here are my thoughts regarding my resolutions for this coming year:
·         Like everyone else, lose weight. For some reason I thought I could just sweat my pounds off, but apparently just sitting in 100 degree weather doesn’t cut it.  I’ve been told “island weight” comes off easy, we’ll see about that! I purchased new running shoes and an ipod (my sweat broke my last one) to begin the battle.
·         Figure out what the heck to do with my life once my volunteer contract is up in June. I fantasize about all the different things I could do but I need a realistic plan!
o   If I do move back home permanently, I hope I forget everything that I’ve learned living on the “rock.”
·         Continue to put myself in challenging and uncomfortable situations so that I can become a stronger and better person. Never settle and get too comfortable.
·         Don’t go too broke.
·         American Samoa things to do: get over my open water phobia, climb Matafo, go to Manu’a, go to Samoa again, FBLAS be successful, have my students become more active in class, improve my Samoan, etc.
·         Not to lose sight of what is important- beauty is only skin deep and money can’t buy happiness.
This is a two day entry (the first part (above) written January 2nd (one month before my 23rd birthday) and then today, January 3rd). It’s so good to be back in Am Sam. I missed the heat and yes even the humidity. I saw a handful of students at the airport last night as I was peeling off my sweatshirt and shoes for slippers (aka flip-flops) and a t-shirt. A friend picked us up at the airport (which was nice to not take a taxi) and we had a get together. It’s always a fun time when we hang out and drink Coors Light, which I did not miss, and not have a care in the world, except for school starting in a couple of days which a couple of us were contemplating on taking a personal day.
Today I spelt in, unpacked, took a cold shower, went out to lunch, and grocery shopped.  The weather is a bit cool, mid 80s, cloudy, and slightly breezy; a nice break from the scorching 110 degrees the day I left. Therefore, I can comfortably sit in the kitchen, boil eggs in prep for this week, sip on my instant coffee, listen to Adele, and continue to reflect. While home, the material things, fast pace-ness, and the pressures of society’s standards caused some anxiety as I’m used to the complete opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being home, but that’s not me anymore. I love island life. My little stifling hot, three-bedroom apartment and my foam mattress, taking a week to do something when it could be done in one day, and throwing on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that permanently musty and smell of old sweat (coupled with the fact that it doesn’t bother me) is part of my everyday life. I’m having trouble putting into words the stark difference of here and there and what I felt besides overwhelmed- still trying to digest it all. I’m ok without a phone, TV, and internet. I was thoroughly annoyed with the copious amounts of time people spent on their fancy touch screen phones. You can’t live life in front of screen. It makes me appreciate this opportunity to volunteer in a developing country. I live with less but I’ve gain so much. My attitude has completely changed as I’ve learned to reprioritize my values. What is important in life; experiences, memories, people; can’t be purchased.   

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Inspirational Moment

Since the first day of school, one student in particular has given me absolute hell. Zachary Langkilde is a senior, starting football player, and a very cute kid. Unfortunately, he has an ego so big; his head often cannot fit through my classroom door. When added to his 5’5 stature with my diagnosis of ‘short-man’ syndrome, he is one extremely cheeky kid. In November, my students became parents to flour children. For one week, they assumed the responsibilities of having to care for a 10 pound sack of flour dressed as a baby. Some naturally chose not to do the project. Zach, to my surprise, took the project very seriously. His baby, named Swagger, was the best cared for and dressed in his class. During my “baby patrols” at lunch, I would spot him holding his baby while talking to his girlfriend, who was Swagger’s after school sitter. Daily Zach would show me how he was such a good dad, even if it meant I had to give him the attention he craved. He still has his ‘show-boat’ and cheeky moments, like stealing some kid’s calculator to take his final during the final, but since this project, he and I have developed a bond. After losing their championship football game, he came to me still sweaty and in his gear on the field for support. This past Wednesday, after performing in the annual Christmas concert, he found me and gave a big bear hug. I still don’t know how, but this cheeky 17 year old boy has weaseled his way into my heart. The picture below is of Zach holding Swagger working on an assignment in class.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Pictures!

 Picture of my new tattoo! 

Our high school logo!

Spirit week: Patriotic Day!


Peter, Lauren, and I on parent-teacher-conference day in our teaching outfits!