Friday, January 21, 2011

School Countdown!

School starts on the 31st- it was supposed to start this Monday, on the 24th, but they pushed it back a week for various reasons. I found that out this week. Ohhhh Tonga! Haha. This week was planning week number 1. There is a new curriculum for primary school so this week consisted of various sessions on that. The new curriculum seems like it is good for the schools. The government primary schools (GPS) are changing it so that English doesn’t start until class 3 (which is age equivalent to 2nd grade in the US- kids here start class 1 at age 5). This is because they found that there was so much focus on English that kids didn’t even know the rules of Tongan grammar. They could speak it and understand it and such but didn’t know a refined level of it- for writing papers and such. However, I don’t work at a GPS, I work at a Free Weslyan primary school (FWPS). So they’re using the new curriculum in terms of what is taught but instead of pushing English back to class 3, my school is actually trying to transition to a bilingual system. Not sure yet exactly what they mean by bilingual, but they’re going to be starting English at class 1, possibly even kindy. So I’m going to be working mainly with class 1 and class 6, but also doing some stuff with every other level too. Class 6 is when they take their major exam, as you remember, to figure out where they go to high school and there’s an English section so they need a lot of practice at that level. Last year none of the kids at my school passed the exam. While I would love for even one to pass this year, I know that it’s not that simple. My goal for now is to improve their English as it functions in real life situations first, and then focus on the exam later in the year.

Anyway, the sessions this week were all in Tongan so I didn’t understand a whole lot of it. I concentrated really hard and ended up with a headache, haha. I did get some of it, and there was a PCV there from Group 75 so she explained some of it to me as well.

Next week is planning week at our individual school. I should find out what my actual teaching schedule will look like and start to get some stuff ready for actual classes. I’m really excited to get to know the kids at school and be in a classroom. I’m also a little anxious about it, since it’s not something I’ve really done before- teaching at a preschool is not the same as teaching in a primary school classroom. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Love and miss you all.

Mice Adventures

Hey look at me! I’m actually writing a blog ahead of time! Everyone should be incredibly proud. Hopefully they internet will work when I head to town tomorrow and I’ll get to post this. If not… at least I wrote it, right? That ought to count for something.

Update on my lovely little housemates that I mentioned awhile ago. They have continued to scurry around my house in a quite obnoxious manner. Thus far they have destroyed my 1/3 measuring cup, the bottom corner of my shower curtain, a lot of toilet paper, tinfoil, my food storage container, some plastic bags and who knows what else. I’ve even had a few stare downs with them. Although I have never actually wanted to kill a creature in my life, these mice are getting on my nerves. Thus, I’ve tried to eliminate them from my life in various ways.

The first way I tried was mouse traps. My friend Cecilia and I bought some in town. After snapping his finger in one and saying it didn’t even hurt, one of our other friends deemed them relatively useless. Despite this, I decided to attempt it. I had four . I put peanut butter on them, placed them in a couple different locations, and left them over night. The next morning when I woke up I laid in my bed for a few extra minutes, trying to figure out exactly what I would do if there were actually dead mice in the traps (and kind of hoping there wouldn’t be, to be honest). I crept around the corner into the kitchen where the first traps were, only to find that two had been set off and the peanut butter was gone but there were no mice in them. The other two traps were just still chillin, peanut butter and all. That was a failure but I was slightly relieved to not see any dead bodies.

The next time I tried to drown them. By my dad’s suggestion I set up a bucket that was filled about halfway with water, put a piece of wood in the bucket with a cracker and peanut butter floating on it, and set a ramp up so the mice could get in. The idea was that the mice would jump into the bucket to get the treat and not be able to get out, drowning instead. Once again, I woke up the next morning secretly hoping to not find any little mice bodies. Or, worse yet, living mice swimming in the water. Then what would I do?! Leave them there knowing they were drowning or rescue them and thus defeat the purpose? (Un?)fortunately there were no mice that time either.

At this point, one of my good friends expressed concern about my emotional health should I actually find dead mice in the morning. He was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I admitted that I was lacking true commitment to killing the mice. I wanted them to leave my house but not necessarily to die. My ideal situation would be to sit down with them and say, “Look guys. You need to go. It’s nothing personal but your lifestyle isn’t compatible with mine. If you don’t leave by choice I’m going to have to kill you.” But honestly, I think they’d call my bluff.

I debated getting a cat. After much discussion with other friends, I decided against it- mainly because I didn’t want to have to worry about it when I went on vacations or when I leave in two years. I know that I wouldn’t be able to raise it fully faka-Tonga (keep it outside, let it fend for itself in terms of food, not play with it, etc.). Also I didn’t want to accidentally starve it, since I can barely feed myself. So, no cat.

That left poison. I don’t want the mice to die in my walls and smell but I’m willing to take my chances. I’ve put out four packets of poison. Three have disappeared so far, but it apparently takes 4-7 days for them to actually die. I can still hear them scurrying around at night, although there hasn’t been any damage recently (knock on wood). Hopefully they disappear and die outside somewhere. I feel a little bad but I guess I had no choice. Poor mice!

Love and miss you all!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life as Usual

I would like to start this post with a shout-out to two of my lovely best friends, Nicole and Curtis, who got engaged at Christmas! Congratulations, guys!! I'm so happy for you.

Related, that's one of the things that has been kind of weird about being in Tonga- missing important events in the lives of people I love. Knowing that something fantastic has happened and I'm unable to be there to share it is a weird sensation. I'm completely stoked for someone but a little sad at the same time. It's only happened a few times- Lea getting her NatGeo job, Nicole and Curtis getting engaged, Josh getting an A in religion (side note: wish he had been studying religion when I was still in college because I bet he totally could have helped me out in some of my classes). I am so so happy about all of those things, it just always catches me off guard to be reminded that everyone's lives are going on without me, hahaha. I know that sounds kind of self-centered but I don't really mean it in that way at all. I would imagine it's kind of the same for some of you, knowing that so much is going on in my life and having little sense of what exactly it's like.

Anyway, sorry, that was kind of a depressing note to start off on but I don't mean it to be! It's more interesting to me than anything else. I'm really quite happy and doing very well. School hasn't started yet but it's planning week beginning on Monday, so I'll finally be getting prepared for the school year! Ahh! I can't wait to get to know the kids in my village in a school setting as opposed to just playing around. And it will be really nice to have a schedule and specific tasks to accomplish. I'm likely going to be working with the whole age range of kids at my school, not just the older ones, so that will be pretty awesome.

I really have been doing the same thing as usual. Running, cooking, battling mice, hanging in the village, coming to town occasionally. Nothing too exciting. The first week of January was Uike Lotu, prayer week. I went to church twice a day every day, at 5 a.m. and 6ish p.m. I've been attending the Weslyan church as I will be teaching at a Weslyan school and right now most of the people I know in my village are Weslyan. I hope to venture to the other churches someday but I'm going to wait until I know people better so I can go with someone instead of alone.

I also hit up a couple feasts for New Years and the end of Uike Lotu. Feasts in Tonga involve a lot of food- roasted pig included- and speeches/prayers. It's all in Tongan, obviously, so I don't quite understand all of it but I do my best. The Tongans always tell me "kai lahi, kai lahi!" which is essentially "eat a lot, eat a lot!" which I am not very good at doing. By Tongan standards I eat very little, especially because I am a vegetarian- a concept which usually takes some explaining before it is understood. But at feasts I do my best to participate in the eating! Haha. Everyone in my village is so nice and welcoming. When I go to town for the day (like today), I miss them. I think that's a good sign so far!

So.... Yeah sorry this was boring and terribly written. I was trying to be fast. Once again I was too lazy to write anything ahead of time. I'll try and write something more exciting soon, maybe in a week or two once school starts. I probably won't be getting to town quite as much once I'm in school, though, just a heads up. Don't be alarmed.

Love and miss you all!