I realized that my last videoblog was an extreme fail at representing my last few months here, so in addition to seeing me make a fool out of myself on Youtube, you also get to see my vomitastic writing.
Let's start off this post with an accomplishment. I won an event in a track meet. Yes. This is coming from someone who had an asthma attack at his last track event (waaay back in 4th grade at Pinon Valley Elementary School). Suck it asthma! Memories. Anyhow, I'd been training for about two months for the 800m and the 1500m race, and the track coach decided to have me run in the 1500m race. I'd never run it before, but hey, it's whatever right? My best time before the track meet was 5:07 during practice. This time, however, had been right after I'd been sick coughing up snot. So, I thought I'd be daring and say I could beat my best 5:07 time by 7 seconds (a large margin) in the track meet on December 14th.
I was right. I did beat my time, but not by just 7 seconds. I beat it by 24 seconds. 4:43. On top of that, I won first place. It was pretty amazing. I hadn't been expecting to even be in the top three finishers, and then I go on to win it?! I was pretty proud of myself. Another volunteer, Yamy, joined my in the event and finished 4th in the womens division. Peace Corps represented. Damn right. This means that if I keep my time up, and maybe even lower it, I can represent Team Pohnpei in the Microgames (The Micronesian Olympics. Ya, it's capitalized because it's important) in July 2014. I'm pretty excited, and I've been training harder now that I have to keep my spot.
That's right. I'm going to be in the Olympics! kind of...
Switching gears now.
So Christmas started on December 1st. That's right. December first. As if Twelve days of Christmas weren't enough. Why do people celebrate the whole month here? Well... Why not! I mean, shouldn't we all celebrate the entire month in which Jesus wasn't born but we've designated to do so anyway? I think so.
Nett School stayed pretty strong with delivering a quality learning experience to all the students, that is, until three days before Christmas break. My co-teacher and I had decided to keep having English lessons no matter what the other teachers were doing. It's common for the last week (or two) before Christmas break to be "preparation for Christmas". Translation: that means you do nothing. So we stayed strong and kept delivering lessons as we watched the other teachers sitting, movies being played, and students walking around. We did so until three days before break. My co-teacher couldn't hold out any longer, and to be honest, neither could I. I was getting pretty tired, and honestly, I needed my teaching break to come early.
And so began the Christmas Preparation. (It's capitalized because it's important.)
The students decorated the room with more constuction paper than I've seen in quite a while. Stars and rings hung from the ceiling. I tried to make a Star of David to maybe start a conversation on Judiasm, but on second thought since no Pohnpeian child knows anything about Judiasm, I decided to spare myself explaining to kids that some people don't believe in Jesus being savior. Long sentence, right? Besides, if you know me well enough, you'd know that any craft I make looks absolutely like it came out of the garbage. Moving on. So we prepared for two days. On the third day, we had our Christmas party. It is the most important day in a Pohnpeian child's life. The kids get all excited because since Christmas is quite expensive, many families here choose to celebrate it through the school's Christmas Party (it's capitalized because it's important.). It's basically their Christmas day. The school tells every student to bring a gift to exchange with another student that has to be exactly $10. This being so, many stores in Pohnpei create gift baskets costing $10 to make a bunch of money. The parents buy the gift bags, and the kids exchange them. Looking at it, it doesn't make sense for two people to buy two bags with mostly the same stuff in them and then exchange it. Shouldn't they just keep the bags, or better yet, shouldn't they just save their money? Then again, isn't spending ridiculous sums of money on stupid gifts what we do for Christmas in America? (Oh ya, I'll let that one sit with you for a while.)
So all the kids are having fun dressed in non-school-uniform clothes. They're eating more icecream, cake, and sugar than they should for like a whole month. They're dancing. They're running around. They're having soo much fun.
It just gave me a headache. I was burnt out. And so ended the school semester.
After school ended, boredom struck. As much as I might gripe about teaching sometimes, it keeps me busy with a schedule. It's 100 times better than having nothing to do. To fill this void, I coached my girls basketball team. It was fun, but coordination has been quite a hassle. No one has a cell phone, so coordination is close to impossible. It's been fun though.
Also to fight boredom I decided to make some coconut oil after watching a Youtube video on how to do it. It's actually not too hard. I just sent a liter back to my mom in the States, and it smelled damn good. I will definitely be making more of it.
Last part. I promise. New Years. New Years is quite different in Pohnpei than it is in the U.S. Quite different. In the States everyone starts celebrating at like 8 p.m. and finishes at like 2 p.m. at the latest. It's all about watching the ball drop in New York, kissing a rando, and getting a little drunk on champagne. It's nice.
For Pohnpeians, that sounds absolutely boring as shit. The party doesn't even start until exactly 12:00 a.m. Then everyone stands up and shakes everyone's hand. "Pa-ra-kapw-MWAHU". Happy New Year! Except they doen't scream and shout it. They kind of just stand up. Not for long does this boredom last. No no. New Years has just began. For the next 24 hours Pohnpeians proceed to race around in flatbed trucks, drunk as hell, banging on empty oil cans. They proceed to drink whole bottles of vodka, by themselves. They proceed to hold hands with the opposite sex. They proceed to cry and scream in hatred at each other. It's a day when anything goes. It's a day when the pent-up social tension is released all at once. Frankly, it scared the shit out of me.
So that's December for ya. Track meet. Christmas Party (It's capitalized because it's important). School ended. Boredom began. Made some coconut oil. Got freaked out by a explosion of social tension on New Years Day. Blah. That's about it.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please leave me a comment if you'd like to know more. I'd be happy to "ka-we-we-ong-uhk" "teach you".
Un saludo. - Nick