Two wrap-up photo albums on Picasa


This month is flying by!

We've got lots of fun and interesting stuff going on on Savaii this month!

From the Samoan Observer:

Teachers of the Palauli school district on Savai’i are today better
equipped to establish and run a school library.This is a result of a workshop at
Sili Primary Schoo organised by District School Review Officer (SRO) Masoe
Tufuga Tovia. United States Peace Corps volunteer, Elizabeth Gartley (who is
based in Sili), and Sili Primary School principal Mataafa Telenise.

Teachers from each primary school in the district were in attendance:
Apaula Tito of Gataivai Primary School, Fualole Isaia of Ga’utavai Primary
School, Anarosa Pio of Palauli Primary School, Nafu Aiolupo of Puleia Primary
School, Moana Alafai of Satupa’itea Primary School, and Teuila Iupati of Tafua
Primary School as well as Olevia Sia’a representing Sili Primary School.

“This training is part of our goal to provide quality education,” said Mr.
Masoe Tufuga.

Miss Gartley, a Peace Corps volunteer, led the workshop.
The training included topics such as preparing a library room, how to secure
funding and book donations, organising the library and bookshelves, school
library management, integrating the school library with form classes and
techniques to introducing students of all ages into the school library.

“There are so many more things I now know about organising the library
books and so on,” said Mrs. Fualole Isaia.

From left to right: Nafu Aiolupo, Apaulu Tito, Olevia Sia’a, Fualole Isaia, Anarosa Pio, Moana Alafai, Teuila Iupata, Elizabeth Gartley, and Masoe Tufuga Tovia.

And I've been helping with a seminar "roadshow" traveling to villages around Savaii in an effort to spread the word on healthy lifestyles and prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. You can read more about that here.

New library books!

(Waiting for the bus.)

I recently received four boxes of books for our school library from my hometown of Houlton, Maine.

(The Magic School Bus series was pretty popular with the kids.)

Special thanks to Houlton Elementary School for donating the books and to my mom and dad for posting them to us.

Freedom of Religion

The Samoan government recently appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the issue of religious freedom in Samoa. Although freedom of religion is guaranteed in Samoa under Article 11 of the Constitution and Samoa has ratified the Unversal Declaration of Human Rights, it's fair to say that the inquiry does not hold a favorable view of religious freedom. There are some well documented cases of religious persecution in Samoan villages, particularly aimed at the Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) Church and members of the Baha'i Faith.
(My religious diversity collage with the commission notices in English and Samoan from the newspaper.)

(I made some prayer flags with messages of peace and tolerance from all different religions.)

Since I have a number of Mormon students and there is a Baha'i community in my district - and because I believe in basic human rights - I thought I'd try to instill some ideals of religious tolerance in my students.

(I had my Year 7 students research different religions in groups using Encarta.)

I also recently had a chance to visit the Baha'i House of Worship on Upolu. The grounds were beautiful and peaceful, and the temple was gorgeous too. I had a chance to speak with some of the Baha'i community leaders, and they were really interesting and, of course, eager to give me resources to help with my classes. My photos of the temple here.

Back to Samoa!

I'm leaving this:
And heading for this:

Need I say more?

Homeward bound

I'm traveling home for the holidays. As I type this, I'm sitting in LAX waiting for my connecting flight. This is my first time in the United States in about a year and a half. In some ways it feels like a homecoming, in other ways I feel like a foreigner. I'm a little afraid I might forget how to speak English and saying, "Fia le tau?" or "Faamolemole" or "Fia ai" or any other of my most frequently used Samoan phrases.


Yesterday I took part in a volunteer panel on working in Samoan primary schools for our new group of trainees. Apparently, the session was viewed as kind of a "downer." I swear I thought I was being really upbeat! I'm really happy where I am: I love my school and kids, love my village, love my host family. Of course, I have days I want to scream and pull my hair out - but that would be the case anywhere (right?).

I guess after a while, as volunteers we become so accustomed to things that may have once been shocking or frustrating, it just no longer registers as such - it's just life.

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