3/8/10

Samoan Day!

Kate Mielnik, WorldTeach volunteer in American Samoa, writes below about her school's celebration of their national holiday...

"Over the past month if you had visited our LHS campus you would have frequently seen that all the students were out of class. Why is that? Samoan Day!

The original date of Samoan day was set to be Feb 11th so beginning in mid-January we were having 50 minute long practices each day to prepare. For Samoan Day, each grade was to perform a series of dances and a song that would be watched by the other classes, parents, teachers and anyone else who came to Samoan Day. The day is meant to celebrate the Samoan culture and help the kids keep close to their roots and remember the traditional dances and songs.

The practices were fun to watch (we couldn't really help with the Samoan dancing…) and they only shortened each class by about 5 minutes so it didn't have too bad of an effect on the learning. Well, at first. As we got closer to the long anticipated day the practices kept getting longer and longer. I don't mean that they would be scheduled for longer time slots; they would just let them run longer on random days meaning you would never know if you were actually going to see the class period that was scheduled for after the practice. That last week we didn't see those classes once. One day last week they just canceled the afternoon periods altogether - right before they were supposed to start!

The girls of the Tongan club performing their dance

Regardless of the frustration we felt as teachers, we were really excited for Samoan Day since our students were pumped and had some amazing dances worked out. However, the day before Samoan Day was slated to happen, we heard word that Cyclone Rene was on the way. Since it was predicted that school was going to be canceled the next day, we had an emergency assembly (as we have no PA system) to tell the students that Samoan Day was going to be moved to next Thursday.

This turned out to be good, because we spent almost all of Tuesday and Wednesday practicing. At this point, Thanh and I were banging our heads against the wall because we hadn't been able to teach in a structured setting for what felt like eternity. Finally, Samoan Day rolled around and it was totally worth it! The kids were so excited and they did an amazing job!"

Some of my sophomores showing off their guns

The freshman class

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