Pirate Blog — Toa Samoa

Tracking my Peace Corps Adventures in Western Samoa

Archive for January, 2009

Cleaning Week

Posted by Igor Popstefanija on January 31, 2009

Leulumoega Fou started school this week. No classes as of yet though, instead the students spent the week cleaning up the compound. They cut the grass, swept the classrooms and various other tasks delegated by the teachers. This took some getting use to at first, but by the third day I was rounding up groups of students to clean up my computer lab. This may seem out of place to us westerners who are used to having janitorial staffs, which we don’t have at the school. Also, Samoan Culture places a great deal of importance on age, which means that children/students must follow instructions from their elders and authority figures (i.e. me!). For example, a common practice is to send a tamaiti (word used for both children and students) to the store to get what you need instead of going yourself. The great part is you always get exact change back. After only a month or so in the village I would be sending my sisters for my coke, snacks, etc.

I know its been a long time since I last posted, but I didn’t have any pictures to post. I noticed that my page views were getting pretty dismal so I had Blakey write a guest post. I’ve also noticed that I’m getting referrals from both Matt and Sara’s Blogs, so thanks for your views! Let me go over the past couple of weeks, so you can get an idea of how slow they were. The biggest event was on the 20th, with Obama’s Inauguration. I went to Apia the night before, and was able to watch live CNN coverage from the Charge d’Affairs (fancy word for not quite an Ambassador) house at 3 AM Samoa time. Other than that its been preparing for school, and watching alot of TV on my computer (I got 2 seasons of 30 Rock from a volunteer who went back to the states over xmas break — woohoo!).

Anyway, enough with the blah, blah. Here are some pictures from the first week of school:


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Guest Post by Blakey

Posted by Igor Popstefanija on January 28, 2009

Hey Everyone!  This is Blakey – another computer teacher peace corps volunteer here in Samoa with Koa (or Gore, I guess you would say).  As I sit with Koa in a cafe in Apia, he is lamenting how popular Mati’s blog is (http://diplomatt.blogspot.com) and how much my friends like to read my blog (www.blakeylarsen.com).  Although nobody can deny that Mati is the most prolific writer and he posts every day, Koa and I post interesting tidbits and factoids that are fun to read!  So here we go – I’ll give you the real story of what Koa is like here:

First of all, Samoans LOVE Koa.  Has he told you about his family in the training village that barely lets him get up from his “nofoali’i” – throne? If the family had silver platters, his food would be served on them. And they are so happy when he comes to town they just adore him!

In addition to his family, people just love him in general.  I will be out shopping with him (for bread and butter, not clothes or anything really fun) and people will strike up conversations with him and not me! I really don’t understand – I’m super friendly but they start talking to him first!

Then there are the other volunteers. Koa has managed to befriend every volunteer that he meets!  In any given group some people are more quiet, some are more energetic and the same is true for the PCVs in Samoa.  But Koa has just weaseled his way in to being friends with everyone! I don’t know how he does it!

Enough of all the good stuff – if you’re reading this you probably like him too, so you’re not surprised that people here like him too.  On to the nitty gritty, the stuff he’s not telling you, the –

uhh… he’s sitting next to me and he just censored everything I was about to say.  I could go on to say more nice things, but I don’t want his head to get too much bigger.

I can tell you that he went swimming in the ocean in his boxers last week because he didn’t want to get his jean shorts wet walking through the mangrove swamp.  And that he grew a really unattractive moustache that was unfortunately remeniscent of a certain WWII dictator.  Or that he has an ie (sarong like skirt)  that is sea-foam green and all of group 81 calls it his Little Mermaid ie – we make it a point to laugh at him whenever he wears it – i’m actually laughing right now thinking about it.

If anyone wants to post comments on this post asking questions about what Koa is really up to or about nay intimate details, feel free to do so and i will resond.

Hope all is well with you all!


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Leulumoega Fou

Posted by Igor Popstefanija on January 9, 2009

So my roomates (well the spazzy one, but I don’t want to name names) sent an email asking me whether I had moved into my new place yet. This made me realize that the one picture of my new house mixed in with the rest of the pictures in the “More Pictures!” post probably didn’t suffice, so I’m gonna give a description of the place I’ll be spending the next two years.

I will be a teacher of computer studies at Leulumoega Fou College, which to Americans is a High School. For some reason, Samoans use the word “college” (in English) for what we would call a High School. The students will be between the ages of 15-18, so for all intents and purposes, whenever I say “college” it means “high school.”

Another thing to know is that there are three types of schools in Samoa: public, private, and church-funded schools. Church-schools are halfway between the two, because although they charge tuition, it is much less than compared to the private schools, as a large portion of their budget comes from the church itself. Peace Corps works with both public and church schools, but not private schools. Leulumoega Fou belongs to Christian Congregationalist Church of Samoa (CCCS in English, EFKS in Samoan). The name is taken from a nearby village, Leulumoega. Fou in Samoan means “new”.

There are actually two schools on the schools grounds, Leulumoega Fou and an Art School, where a fellow peace corps will be working, Kate. I posted a picture of Kate in the last post among the pictures of us at Falealupo on New Year’s. Kate is from California, she has lived in both LA and San Fransisco. She used to work at a record store called Amoeba, which from what I gather is like a west coast version of Newbury Comics. She is also vegan. I want to be clear about this for my grandfather’s sake; we are not dating, she is my neighbor.

I already described the Lab a bit in the last post. I included a picture below. The school itself consists of 4 blocks, with approximately 7 or 8 classrooms per block. There is also a large meeting hall in which to hold assemblies and the like. Between the school itself and the main road are houses, like the one I live in, which are for teachers. I havn’t really gotten a feel for the school itself yet, because its still summer vacation. Any Questions? Be sure to comment. Here’s the pictures:

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Posted by Igor Popstefanija on January 7, 2009

So I’m a full blooded volunteer now, have been for almost a month now. What have I been up to in the time being? Well to be honest, a whole lot of nothing. For one thing the period between Christmas and New Years in Samoa is an extended holiday, but also seeing as I will be teaching as my primary objective, and school doesn’t start until February, there will be a lot of downtime in the next couple of weeks. I’d like to refer to it as a transitional period. I wouldn’t call myself bored though, I’ve been able to keep busy for the most part. I’ve been able to travel around Samoa a bit. I spent Christmas in the training village with my Samoan family, and New Year’s on Samoa’s other, less populated island, Savai’i (See pictures below).

The new house has been a choir and a half as well. First off there is the animal problem. There are many bugs in Samoa, ants and beetles being the least of my concern but the most numerous. Centipedes are a different story altogether. Twice at night I have been woken by centipedes, which think that crawling on me while I sleep is a good idea. Thanks to my trusty can of bug poison, they did not live to see another day. Rats were also a concern of mine, I had at least one living in my roof, and coming down at night for food. The strange thing about rats is for some reason they love eating soap. Go figure. They also love eating poison and are no more. I think at this point in time the infestation is under control.

As for the rest of my time, I’ve been watching movies and tv shows on my laptop (no tv), reading (I finished No Logo by Noami Klein, The Guns of August by Barbra Truchman, and am currently on The Thrid Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond) and the occasional video game (okay, maybe more than occasionally).

Yesterday marked the first day that I got access to my computer lab. I have seven working computers, all Celeron 997 hrz, with either 256 or 512 mb of RAM. Six are running Windows XP, and one is running… wait for it… Ubuntu! Sorry for the techno-bable, but I think a couple of you might appreciate it. There’s also one machine I couldn’t get started and a pile of parts for me to work with. There’s also a router and cabling set up, but it doesn’t look like they’re networked as of yet. I’ll have the rest of January to futz around with it. After a conversation with my pule (Samoan for boss/principal) we decided that I’ll be teaching two computer classes, for junior and senior year, and an upper level science class, to be determined.

I don’t know what else to say, so here’s some pictures from New Year’s on Savai’i:

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