In reference to the style of this blog title, thought I'd spice it up a little with some horrible rendition of an Old English Phrase. In other words, I'm bored right now.
It's funny how one action can start a chain reaction and how many chain reactions can lead to one event. I've been teaching my students songs that I have on my computer's Itunes thinking that maybe they will remember 2 or 3 vocabs words from the song, maybe the beat, and nothing else. Boy was I wrong. A couple of nights ago I was hanging out with a couple ( by couple I mean 4-6) of Salapwukians including my some of my students, and the most amazing thing happened. They started to sing each song I taught them with perfect timing and all of the lyrics. On top of that, they had taught the songs to their family and they started to sing along too. Now the tunes of the Beatles and Marvin Gaye's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" are common place here. Who'd of thought...
I've started a running club at my school that consists of any student who wants to run in the evenings 3 days a week. My goal is to show the kids that there are free ways to exercise and stay healthy. Diabetes and obesity are a huge problem here in Pohnpei due to overuse of salt, a lot of sugar, and minimum physical activity. The extremely sad part is that most of these problems (I would guess about 80%) are bared by women. It's an extremely interesting dichotomy of how the men here all have six packs and the women are mostly not in good shape. I believe this is starting to change with the younger generation as they learn more about staying healthy, and I'm hoping to have some impact on that change.
I've become extremely frustrated with some things that I take for granted in America that absolutely do not exist here. The biggest one is Special Education for students with disabilities. In the U.S., it's assumed that if you have a condition like slight retardation or a speech impairment, there is a trained personnel at most elementary schools or someone in town from whom you can receive extra attention. Throw that out the window here. Some of the students at my school are in 3rd grade and are not even able to write their own name, and there's no one who bats an eye at it. With a particular student, I'm spending time with them after school to help that student learn how to write basic letters. It's been 3 days now, and I now can say that I have been completely humbled by this experience. That is my most challenging secondary project: teaching an 8 year old student how to write their own 4-letter name. I now respect every person who has worked in Special Education because of their amount of patience. Patience, now that's a word.
We Peace Corps Volunteers had Thanksgiving dinner a little early on Sunday November, 18th. The U.S. Ambassador invited us and some Army soldiers stationed in Pohnpei to eat at her beautiful villa outlooking the Pacific Ocean. All I can say is that your tax dollars went to work that day. I ate. I ate some more. I ate until people started giving me that look of, "Dude... The toilet is that way." No, I didn't puke. I actually never felt full even though I ate 2 plates of food and a whole pie. It was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving by eating turkey and stuffing while gazing out at the Pacific Ocean.
I've picked up the task of trying to keep myself intellectually stimulated, which is tough. My conversations here with my community consist of sex jokes, trying to find me a wife, more sex jokes, food, and lesson planning for English classes. So instead of turning my brain into complete mush, I've decided to start briefly studying for the GRE with a GRE test book that is conveniently in my school library. I've also started to read the book The Lazy Intellectual which I thought fit me perfectly. It's tough having come from a college town with interesting topics and ideas in a language I can perfectly understand to listening to me being talked to like a child in a language I barely understand. The range of topics on an island are pretty limited, and definitely more limited in a isolated town with no Internet nor television. Reading/studying will save me; I hope.
I feel like I've covered just about every topic I need to in this blog post. To all of my friends and family back home, I love and miss you all. Thanks for all of the support in the form of care packages, FB wall posts, emails, and prayers. This is a tough job, but I believe it's what I need to be doing with my life right now. It's almost Christmas season. Maybe Good Ol' Saint Nick will send you a present. Leave me your address on Facebook, and I might send you a post card or a coconut. Either way, you win.
Nicolás Antonio Canfield