Hey team! Sorry, it’s been awhile. Things have been a little crazy with school starting up.
I guess that’s what I’ll start with- school! After two weeks of planning (and I use that term very loosely), school started on the 31st of January. The first week was just half-days and I did not have my schedule yet, so I spent the time helping the Class 1 teacher, Vao (who is my principal’s wife/my neighbor/my mom in my village). I spent most of the week having no idea what was going on or what I should be doing. Fortunately Vao is a great teacher and really energetic/enthusiastic. She uses a lot of English with her students anyway, so I got a pretty good idea of what I should be doing when I work with Class 1.
However, there were also some interesting situations that first week. Best example is that Wednesday. Every day school starts at 8:30, and goes until they have a short recess at 10:30. Well, during recess on the first Wednesday one student managed to get a giant gash right below one of his eyebrows. As we were getting ready to start class again, Vao came back and told me that she had to take this student to the hospital and could I please do class for the rest of the day (only until 12:30, fortunately). Of course I said yes because what else was I going to do? The kid had a huge cut right by his eye. Class 1 and Kindy were combined at the time, so it was me and the Kindy teacher, Seini. This was challenging enough because for a lot of the kids it was their first time in school so there was a lot of chasing kids, bringing them back to the classroom, taking them off the tables, etc. After all, Kindy is 4 years old and Class 1 is 5, so they are pretty young.
I did the best I could in terms of some simple activities and Seini handled all the Tongan speaking. At one point we decided it would be good to go outside because we were doing basic verbs with the kids- walking, running, hopping and so forth. I thought we were all going outside. But when I started to take Class 1 outside, Seini said “okay so we will stay in here for a little bit and then join you!” I just kind of stared at her and she asked if I wanted her and the Kindy to come out, too. Of course that would have been ideal but I totally understood the need for them to be separated for a little bit. Thus, I said “oh, no, it’s okay, we’re fine!” Well, silly me. My Tongan is not even remotely good enough to control nearly 20 5-year-old Tongan children while running around outside. The best I could manage was “Fakalonglongo!” (quiet!), “Fanongo!” (listen!), “Tuku ia!” (stop it!), and “Kapau oku ikai te mou fanongo, oku ikai te mau va’inga!” (a very butchered attempt to say, “if you don’t listen we are not playing!”) Unfortunately it took me so long to say the last one that by the time I got to the “we are not playing” part they had stopped paying attention to me.
Basically, just picture me standing in a field with 20 small Tongan children running around crazily as I tried to get them to listen to me using a mixture of broken Tongan and English. Pretty ridiculous, exhausting, and hilarious. But Seini and the kindy kids came out after a little bit and we attempted some other games with them (which failed) and eventually just resorted to letting them run around anyway. I learned after that someone important from some education office- possibly the Weslyan office, maybe the government? I don’t know- was visiting at the time to meet with my principal. I’m sure I looked quite professional. Ooops….