Hmm, it seems to have been a little while since our last entry, the main reason being that to use the internet we have to go to the high school office after school. It is usually really hot and there’s usually a squadron of vampire mosquitoes ready to sink their vicious fangs into us. We’ve learned that (unfortunately) Deet repellent works better than the natural stuff you can buy, but we do prefer the mild burning sensation on our skin over the mossies.
Today is Saturday and for us that means our only sleep in of the week (unless we choose to skip church for the week), and invariably a day of house work: giving the kitchen a good ‘Pino’-clean, reorganising the living room and doing mountains of hand-washing. We really have to try and keep on top of our house work here, as the ants, mites and cockroaches will have a lovely time otherwise, not to mention the mildew that erupts everywhere. Yes, I am gradually coming to terms with my phobias… although the magotty-rotting potatoes, bought in a 20kg sack from the shop, were beyond what I could cope with! Luckily Matt is a bit stronger in the stomach than I am with such matters.
Matt’s found it pretty hard work recently. He’s working with a team building parts of the school, and the language barrier is proving to be a bit of a challenge. They’re working really long hours to get the building done s they can start on the main school building. Matt has also been given the keys to the little island truck and is in charge of the driving on Fenua Fala.
My Tokelau is coming a long slowly, although Andrew kindly sent us a copy of a Tokelau Language course book that is proving to be a great help. Although the kids in my class understand all classroom instructions, I have typed myself up a chart so I can learn to say them in Tokelau. I now take great pleasure in asking the kids to stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, and to see that they understand me… although sometimes I get confused and probably tell them to stand down and sit up! I can also tell them, “Ko au ka fano ki te fale,” which means I am going to my house. I can probably change that to other places, but I’m not usually going anywhere other than my house, to the school or to the high school.
We’re still getting used to the food situation here. It’s pretty hard there not being much in the way of fresh fruit or veges, and as you can probably tell from the potatoes, even the fruit and veges that we do get aren’t what you’d call fresh. It is like a throw back to the old days, with us having Weetbix for breakfast, and a hot dinner consisting of either fish, chicken, sausages or mutton chops, with mashed potatoes and frozen mixed veges. Last nights dinner was inspired by baked beans, mixed with a can of corned beef (hmmm!), some onions and a sprinkling of sun dried tomatoes… a treat sent over by mum (Dianne). All I can say about last nights dinner was that desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures, and when you haven’t eaten all day hunger is the best sauce!
Last Saturday night we went to Bradey’s house for dinner. Brady, his wife Sena, and his 4 year old daughter are from New Zealand. They moved here six months ago, to a house that is in Sena’s family. Sena left Tokelau when she was 12 years old, and hadn’t been back for 30 years. They’ve done the little house on Fale up beautifully, and it was so lovely to go out for dinner and chat the hours away. It is not the custom in Tokelau to go to each other’s houses for dinner, so we felt a bit of a novelty walking down to the jetty with our plate of sushi and peach-rollups on our way to their house! Since then we’ve traded dvds, which is a bit of a treat in itself!
This week I had a short-lived career as the Fakaofo Netball Team’s manager. Sadly the tournament between the atolls has been cancelled due to Nukunonu and Atafu not wanting to take part. It seems such a shame, as training had started and I was looking forward to it being a good opportunity to keep fit. There’s talk of an atoll competition if we can scrape together enough teams, but it may be tricky getting anyone to commit themselves… it was hard enough getting the teams to practice at 4pm, with most turning up at 5.20pm. Admittedly, it is a bit cooler by then and half of the court is in the shade, but the bell for prayer time goes anytime between 5.45 and 6pm, which meant that training was pretty short by the time the warm-ups had happened.
There was always the last-minute scramble to find a ball as well; training is a bit tricky without a ball, however, it seems that anyone who has access to the sports equipment whether it be for the high school, or the sports club, is away in Samoa and no one knows where the keys are.
Matt and I have begun to hatch a plan to set up a mixed social netball tournament, but whether or not the idea will be a winner or not will remain to be seen.
This week has been an interesting week at school due to the fact that instead of starting at 8.30 each day, we’ve been starting at 9am… could this be something to do with the fact that the deputy is away? I’ve found it a bit frustrating, as I always find it a bit of a squeeze to get everything fitted in anyway, and half and hour off my morning program really makes an impact. Anyway, its just the way it is and I hope that over time things will get back to routine.
We had what I felt was a really successful Literacy Team Meeting this week. I shared my writing programme and they seem quite keen to adopt it themselves. They liked my shared writing book and the way I publish the children’s stories of the children to illustrate and read. I’ve seen amazing progress in the writing of my students over the past few weeks, and it is so clear to see when looking at their published storybooks. It is very satisfying.
This week I will spend sometime doing running records to assess y students reading progress. I hope to push them along quickly, as there are not many readers in the magenta-yellow range, as they are shared between Years 2-5 at the moment. Each week I struggle to find a set of four books. A week or two ago I collected in all of the rainbow readers and spent a good few hours putting them away and finding many books in the wring boxes. I have to admit, I found it strangely satisfying to re-unite sets of books, and it was difficult to stop!
I hope that I am able to impart as much to the other teachers as I am learning myself. Never having run a junior programme before, I am learning so much about the best ways to do things; figuring out the best ways to teach consonant blends and rhyming words, and activities for the students to do while I’m working with a different group. Training the students to actually complete the independent activities is another thing altogether, but they’re getting there.
I’m enjoying teaching maths, as the students are responding really well to the ANP programme I’m running. Not many of my Year 4’s can instantly remember their number bonds to ten yet, but then not many of the Year 6’s can either! One of the Year 6’s yesterday had a real break-through moment when after school, at netball practice’, I explained to him about place-value and using it to calculate problems like 10+8. Before that he had still been using his fingers! He was so proud of how fast he was to calculate the problems.
I also taught him that when adding on his fingers he was always getting the wrong answer because he was double counting the first number, eg. 5+3 as ‘5-6-7, instead of, ‘6-7-8’. He was amazed and said that he had always got the wrong answers! I hope that in six months time when I help them implement a maths program, that the students will benefit greatly from being taught in groups rather than the old ‘copy and complete’, ‘one size fits all’ maths approach.
Well, Matt and I have completed the cleaning for the day, apart from the washing, but I’m ignoring that. I might rebel and do it tomorrow…. Sunday. Strictly speaking no one is meant to work on Sundays. But, if doing your washing on a Sunday makes me a rebel, then let it be.
I’ve finally organised my jewellery table and now I just have to sort out a gas bottle. We cook with gas, but the bottles are huge. I tried to attach the gas torch today, but the bottle sounded like it was letting out gas. Perhaps the seal wasn’t tight enough (anyone got any ideas on this one?). I’m trying to track down a small gas bottle. I have seen one at the high school with VSA written on it, but it is a case of getting it put on the boat to Samoa to get it filled. We also have to get our two large gas bottles on the boat, as they have also run out of gas and we are currently borrowing someone else’s.
Matt’s just headed out fishing on the reef with our Kiribati friend, Andrew.
Better tootle. Tofa ni!
(PS There is an influenza epidemic here at the moment, but I don't thinks its anything too mucj to worry about... kids with snotty noses is something I see everyday!
In the past two weeks there's also been a 7.9 earthquake in Tonga and a tsunami warning put out and then retraced...
NO WORRIES MATE! LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!)