Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tonga High

Yesterday Dr. Santos met with the Principal and the Creative Technology teachers to get Alexa's and my schedules sorted out. Before Dr. Santos met with the teachers, I was extremely confused about where I was supposed to be during class and what I was supposed to be doing. Nobody seemed to have any expectations for me, and it was driving me crazy - I needed some direction. I had never realized how much I depend on organization. After talking with Dr. Santos yesterday, I felt really good about how things would play out. I would finally have some classes to teach. Then today rolled around, and I was again confused about what was expected of us. The class schedules were different from what we thought they would be, and we began to realize that there were some flaws in how we expected the schedules to run. It also seemed like there were some miscommunications about expectations, so the stress started to come back. I observed one classroom, and then I went upstairs to the staff room, not knowing where to go or what I was supposed to do. I had emailed Dr. Santos to let her know about the confusion, and so she came in the afternoon. We spent a couple hours looking at the schedule, dissecting options of how we could handle the schedule, and even looked at the official schedule to try to figure things out - but  we soon found that what was written on the official schedule was not completely accurate. After a long day of confusion, I'd love to say that our problems were solved. However, we have some more solving to do in the morning.

I don't know how to describe the school other than inconsistent. I don't mean that in a bad way, just that it's completely different from what I'm used to in the states. Yesterday there was a staff meeting, so the students just waited under the pavilion until they could go to their classes. When the meeting ended, they were informed that it would be a half day and that they were only to attend the first three of their five classes. Yesterday when the Creative Technology teachers went to meet with Dr. Santos, they simply left the students to work on their classwork. It's all so different, but it just works for them.

When I was in the staff room after school waiting for my host mom to be done with writing reports, a woman came in and talked to me. Her name is Alieta. She was so friendly and told methat I should come stay at her house someday when Ana is busy. Later on, she came back to the staff room and asked if I wanted to go for a drive and to see her home. Only in Tonga is this acceptable. She told me that Ana said it was okay, because she still had a lot of reports to write. Alieta was so excited for me to come with her, and she said how excited Angel, her daughter, would be to meet me. Her daughter is 8 years old. She also has two sons, Collin and Pioneer. They don't live at home, so it's just Alieta, her husband, and Angel. They rent their home from the government, and it is very clean. Alieta kept telling me that I was welcome to their home - that anytime Ana is busy, I need to come stay with them. We talked about teaching, and it was interesting to hear her perspective on teaching in Tonga. 

When we drove back to the school, the administration had a BBQ going, since so many teachers had to stay late working on reports. I left my sweater at home this morning, and the weather was very cool today. Alieta was about to go back home, but noticed that I wasn't wearing a sweater. She said, "I'll just leave you with my scarf [more like a shawl]." I told her I was okay, but she insisted. So I gave in, telling her that I would return it to her tomorrow. Then she said, "No, don't return it; I am giving it to you." She literally gave me the clothes off her back. I tried saying that I couldn't take it from her, but she insisted. I cannot explain the attitude of generosity and happiness that is so present on this island. I don't think I have ever really understood the phrase "money can't buy happiness" until coming to Tonga. Everyone here is happy and are willing to give whatever they can for the sake of being nice to someone else.

My new, poetic replacement for a sweater

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