We successfully (and somewhat surprisingly) completed our first quarter last week! We had the opportunity of writing final exams, grading each one and filling out report cards, by hand, twice. While we “outside teachers” were cranking out our students’ final grades using Excel, the school’s request was to document grades for each student on two separate forms, by hand. Once again, Chuuk is not known for its efficiency.
Chuuk High School students – some days I like them, other days I would like to hurt them. I really do love them though, all 103 of my students. I have four English reading classes – 10B, 10A, 11B, 9A – each of these classes have their own set of frustrations, stories and unique students.
Before we arrived, the students took an entrance exam and were ranked into sections A-F. The four of us high school teachers from our group are with the A and B sections of 9th-12th graders. Scoring a 60% or higher was their admission into the top two sections. These A and B sections are the “college prep” kids – the ones that are the most likely to have a shot at moving on to college, due to their English abilities. 780 students attend Chuuk High School, home of the Typhoons. Approximately 200 students are in the college prep program. Most of the couple hundred seniors will graduate. 50% of those graduates will be accepted into college; 75%-80% have been known to drop out freshman year; once they leave, 90% don’t return to their islands. Many of the kids want to leave Chuuk and see education as their ticket out. While Chuuk is the armpit of Micronesia, there sure are some special souls on this island, and many students with unique names. To list a few, we have:
Willyten – he’s the 10th child in his family, so they add the number to his name
Ham – pronounced am, but stands from A.M. since he was born in the morning
Riforlin – every few letters are taken from a different family member’s name
Charisma – who has more than enough attitude for the entire school
(Side note on names, two of our Branch Presidency members are President New Year and Useless Francis. The names sure are something in Chuuk).
As much as some of these kids’ attitudes, disrespect, laziness and defiance really send me over the edge at times, there are some very pleasant ones (Arma, the angel, and Atin, who just really has a good soul), and I have really come to love these kids. Along with the varying levels of understanding within each class, there also some interesting age ranges. Genaly is my 12-year old 10th grader and Atin is my 17-year old 9th grader.
(2nd period – 10B)
(3rd period – 10A)
(4th period – 11B)
(5th period – 9A)
A few weeks ago, after having a discussion with my students on what a life lesson is, I asked them to write about a life lesson they have learned. In their own words and using their grammar, here are some of my kid’s thoughts that shed a little light into their lives.
What is one life lesson you have learned and how did you learn this lesson?
“One life lesson that I have been through was when my mom left us one night. She left me and my sister alone in the house, that time I was 7 years old and my sister was ten. We were so scared but we didn’t cry we just hold each others hands and just stood at the door. My sister called our relatives house and asked our mom if she was there, and she was not there. We were afraid that we had to just stay at the door until she came back home so so late we were about to sleep at the door. What I learned from that time was that without our parents is a very difficult situation. I can really tell that it is that’s why I never show my parents disrespect, but I only treat them the way parents should be treated. Being loved is number one.”
– Sincerity, 11B
“There is a big mistake that I’ve done, which also give me a good lesson. Ran away with girl is the mistake that I’ve done that give me a lesson. By doing this mistakes it made me disobey my parents and hurt others. My parents told me not to, but I didn’t stop. One day I walked down the road of my village and a guy came toward me with tears in his eyes.
He was about to beat me but the people on the road hold him. I was confuse about what he’s doing, because I knew that I didn’t do anything bad to him. But I was wrong. The people who held him told me that he as mad, because I ran away with his sister. Even thought I felt sorry for what I’ve done I never stop. One day another guy from my village ran away with my cousin.
When I heard about what was happened. I cried, because it’s really hurt. I try to find the guy, but eventually I met the guy who want to fight me. He looked at me and said, “I forgive you, and good you felt how that was like.” I stop and realize how pain I’ve done to those who close to all the girls I’ve been with. I drop down and wept, and keep asking the guy for his forgiveness. From that day on I stop what I’ve been doing. Because it keep me from hurting people and disobey my parents.”
– Namoart, 11B
“Last time when I didn’t lesson to my oldes brother and he say I’m not play with my friend and more. Then, I went to my friends house and I play them. Finaly when I playing with my friend I saw my brother walking to my friends house with a stick and he calling my name, but me I scerd. Lastly he come and kick me. Also, he bring me at home and he say if I saw you get outside I will kill you.
I learn this lesson to not be bad to my oldes brother.”
– Ham, 11B
“The day that I learn a lesson from myself. Is when me and my want to go out and night and go to the basketball court. Then I tell my friends to wait for me then I go in my house and my mom call me. She ask where am I going. I tell her at the basketball court she says don’t go. Then I stay and really angry, and then they said that their was a sling shot fight at the basketball court. That when I learn a lesson that I will always lesson to my parents.”
– Soreal, 11B
“One life lesson I’ve learned is forgiveness. At my old school I had many friends, they were more like family too. We were always together in things, when someone’s down we comfort them, it all goes like that. One time one of my friends made a mistake, for a whole week my friend was asking for forgiveness but I wouldn’t forgive her; a week later I also made the same mistake and I also had to ask forgiveness, that’s when I realized that forgiveness is really hard. So I had to forgive cuz I knew the struggle.”
– Malika, 9A
“My own one life lesson is that I always question myself. My life lesson is I lessen to myself and anything I do to myself. Like example: my mom always yelled at me, like why you didn’t do this you have to do this. And that time it remind me to lesson to myself that I have to this. Many people tell me that I’m so stupid. That time learn that I am smart, I am strong and I am important to myself.”
– Francesca, 9A
“Last 7th grade year I would always go to school for my best friends but I didn’t go to school to learn, I just went to see my best friends. So on the last day of school we didn’t really have classes but we made plans to bring alchohol to school so I took the money we all helped out on and I gave my big cousin to buy it saying that it was for my big brother, so my cousin bought it and I brought it to school for me and my friends, then we got caught and I was the one who brought it so they called my parents and my parents made me homeschooled. Now I know my lesson, not to make friends with random people and let them take advantage of you.
I learned this lesson when I just stayed home and do my assignments online and I couldn’t go out and see my friends, so now we are all strangers to each other after what happened.”
– Melvalynn, 9A
“When I was in a room praying that God will help me, with what I need. But then I thought he didn’t want to help me. So I give up from praying, till I ask my mom why don’t God help me for what I ask.
Then my mom laugh and told me, “you have to be patience.” Then I think of it everytime and started to pray again and ask for forgiveness, and ask him to help me. Then after that I stood there being patience till everything will be right.”
– Justiqua, 9A
These kids continuously teach me life lessons.
(Pictured: Willyten after winning a basketball challenge)