By Sarah Goza, WorldTeach American Samoa ’17 from her blog “Passport_on_point.” This was published September 16, 2017.

Talofa friends and family!

Sorry for the delay in  posting another blog.  Teaching, let alone in a foreign country, can be time consuming!  First I will catch you guys up on what has happened since I first got to my new house. Us volunteers finally got to move into our houses and villages that we will be spending our time in for a whole year.  I am living in the capitol, Pago Pago.  Which is pronounced Pahngo Pahngo by the way.  I was constantly pronouncing it Paygo Paygo before I got here.  I think my house is GORGEOUS.  I will include a link to a house tour here on my blog.  I also adore my village and love hanging out with the local kids and letting them play with my snapchat filters.

So as a volunteer, I don’t have a car here so if we want to go anywhere we walk or take a bus or taxi.  If it is in a 5 mile range, which a lot of stuff is, I just walk.  I have actually come to really enjoy walking!  I think that is because everyone here SO SO nice!  When I walk, I literally say hi and manuia le aso ( Have a good day ) to everyone I pass.  I have had people stop and give me rides, buy me food, offer to take me to their church, and literally do everything they can to make me feel comfortable.  It is fantastic.  

There is some volunteers who live in a neighboring village which is about 3 miles away, and I walk over and visit with them sometimes.  I have at least 10 people hang their heads out their window and yell, “Hi Ms. Sarah!!”  Some of them I know and some I have never seen before in my life.  People just know me which is a pretty cool feeling!

So while I am here, I decided to try new things. Obviously. haha so I bought an Ukulele and have been teaching myself how to play from youtube videos. I can almost play I’m Yours by Jason Mraz so watch out fam, I will be showing you my mad skills when I get back! When I go visit the other volunteers, I take my ukulele and I kind of feel really cool walking down the road in my lava lava, ( the wrap I wear over my shorts to be modest), my backpack, and carrying my ukulele.  Does that make me a cool island hipster?  I would like to think so. I would also like to point out that a very nice looking, shirtless Samoan blew me a kiss from the back of a truck while I walk walking down the road with this hipster vibe I am now rocking. I’m not mad about it.

While we are on the small subject of my love life, I would like to announce that I was proposed to at a gas station while trying to buy a can of ravioli for dinner.  I kid you not, I was pulled to the side by an older gentleman as he professed his love for me and stated he wanted to marry  me.  It was a bit awkward. Don’t worry, I am still single.

Now, lets get to the important part.  My teaching experience!!! These kids are fantastic and I absolutely love my job.  Who knew I would like 8th grade?!  Don’t get me wrong, some days I want to strangle these kids but most days, I walk away with a huge smile on my face.  To be honest, I was a little nervous that my kids weren’t learning anything I was trying to teach them the first couple of weeks but I have started doing assessments and am so proud at what my kids have learned!  I repeat, I have been teaching and my kids are LEARNING! YAY!!  I have stated in a facebook post about the conditions here and it is not ideal.  Since this is an American Territory, we have common core standards which is a load of… well.. its a bit ridiculous considering English is their second language.

Funny things my kids say: I had a kid ask me yesterday, “Why is the hair on your arms white…? I don’t get it. ”   That one made me laugh for a bit. I also had a student give me feedback on what they liked in the class and what they didn’t like and their answer for what they didn’t like was,”  I don’t like your jokes, you aren’t funny.” That one was way harsh but I appreciated his honesty and it made me laugh for a bit too haha  The best thing I got told was today by one of my students, “Hey, Ms. Sarah! You are almost skinny!”   You have to realize here that by them saying that, it is not considered rude. People are just blunt here.  My response, “Almost skinny? alright… I can take that! High five!”

The way these kids try with what little supplies they have makes my heart so happy.  I had a rough year last year and this is exactly what I needed.  I am doing my own thing and finding happiness!  A wise man once said, ” You can always find happiness in the darkest of times if you only remember to turn on the light.”  – Albus Dumbledore.

I found the light and I plan on keeping it switched on for a while!  Until next time!

Link for my house tour! World Teach Cribs style.

Manuia le aso,
Ms. Sarah