Four of us “high school teachers” have survived almost two full weeks of teaching. For our mental well-being, we won’t yet discuss how many weeks we have to teach until Christmas break. Each day down is a celebration. You teachers and your countdowns, we feel you. For the record, all you teacher folk…you have a gift of doing what you do! Bless your guided curriculum and resources! The other three in the group started teaching today at the elementary school (two weeks delayed, but we’ll focus on the positive side of things and that it has begun). The power is rarely not out at the high school, which puts a fun spin on the heat and lack of resources situation. You can’t make copies of any worksheet you’ve handwritten, you can’t heat up your lunch, you never really did have wifi, so you have a teacher venting session and wonder what you’re going to teach tomorrow. It’s a good thing we have each other.
This week, I reluctantly took my turn of being bitten by our neighbor’s crazy dog, which led to going to the doctor…but the only doctor that was open was the hospital…and the only place in the hospital that was open was the ER. After going down what looked like a haunted corridor, we were welcomed by a wooden panel door with “emergency room” and an inviting smiley face written in pencil. After we stared at the door, looked each other, then knocked, the door was opened and we entered the waiting room/operating room/death bed room/quarantined section of the island, I’m sure. While waiting for the doctor, and having a difficulty distinguishing between doctors and anyone coming in to wait their turn/offer support to those on their death bed, a man wearing a spiderman shirt, camo pants and white lab coat walked in and headed to the man on his death bed/post surgery recovery. I had high hopes for this adventure.
Sister Francis (pictured below, along with Brother Nicerio, the Seminary and Institue Director over Micronesia and Guam) and I ventured out to visit two seminary classes (that we knew had scheduled classes, and sadly, found empty church buildings, however, there was a party on the outdoor basketball court (the staple to every church property). After tracking down the teachers and doing some initial training, we headed back home to our island.
This week, our group was able to meet with our contact here at the school and learn more about his vision for education as well as our purpose in being here. It was insightful, but sadly, it confirmed our need to let go of our expectations and what we were told we would be doing here. So, if you are a native English speaker and are interested in teaching English while using your creativity in coming up with your own high school curriculum in math, science and English, this is the opportunity for you. On an optimistic note, Elder Ringwood along with two other Church leaders are coming to visit early next week to see the new elementary school, whose land rental is paid for by the Church. We are hoping to have the opportunity to speak with them about their vision for education here, since we are feeling like our program is more of a side project/favor to a friend rather than a Self Reliance sponsored program.
I have had a lot of thoughts this week on wondering how it’s possible to teach and influence behavioral change in Chuuk when the entire culture is completely content on settling; physical and sexual abuse to women and children, women living as second class citizens, a lack of accountability, and the idea of “life is hard and then you die”…this is the mentality and reality of the island life. My thoughts have swung back and forth, at times, hourly, between this is a very frustrating situation; this is nothing like what we were told we would be doing. I quit my jobs and sold my car to jump into this opportunity that will lead me to the type of work I want to do…helping and training people on how to help themselves and focus on lasting change. I know what I want to do with my life and career, and this is not it. I didn’t come to teach high school with no experience, no support, no communication, no resources…AND THEN…you know what, my 2016 goal was to simplify my life. I have taken a step back from everything I was involved in to come and help people, train people, be an example to people in any way I can. I know I most likely won’t see drastic changes, but I can at least try and influence those I encounter. This is my/our/the current mental battle.
“Next to the bestowal of life, the right to direct that life is Gods greatest gift to man.” (David O. McKay)
On an entertaining visual note, it takes great skill and I am working on perfecting the ability to climb the shortcut of a hill (which feels like a 60% grade incline) up to our house, in a skirt and Chacos, often slipping because the on and off again rain, while carrying a backpack full of groceries and an arm full of recently washed laundry. #blessthosepioneers