11/11/14

What a Difference a Year Makes



WorldTeach alumna Chaundra returned to American Samoa a year after her WorldTeach service ended. Now, she's working for the Samoan department of education.

I'm back for round two of this crazy island life, only this time I work for the Department of Education in American Samoa.

I hadn't fully planned on returning after my stint here during the last school year, but as the time came closer for me to head back to the mainland, I wasn't ready to go. I put in my application to get hired by DOE at the end of the school year, and because this is Samoa, they lost my application. I patiently waited to here the exciting news that I would be able to return to the island as a teacher, completely unaware that they had lost all of my application materials, but I still looked for jobs in Tennessee where my family is located. It's very hard to get a teaching job when you're not technically licensed to teach. My teaching certificate expired last December and I didn't renew it until I got back to the States. I received my teaching license in the mail right before I left to come back to American Samoa, which was well after the start of the school year in Tennessee. 
I arrived in American Samoa in September, ready for DOE to tell me they found my paperwork and I could start working. That didn't happen. Instead, I talked to one of the deputy directors who told me that I could no longer have a job because I was not Samoan. What?!?! I took a couple of days to compose myself, and then I went straight to the director of education to let her know what her people were doing. The director told me that I shouldn't have been told that and that they need teachers. So, thanks to the director reviewing my application materials and deciding that she wanted to hire me, I was able to start working fairly quickly. 

I had hoped to be able to go back to Tafuna High School, but  was placed at Samoana High School instead. The odd thing is that last year I wanted to teach at Samoana because it was in walking distance from my house, but I was placed at Tafuna. This year I wanted to go to Tafuna because it's familiar and I had a positive experience there, but I was placed at Samoana. I am currently teaching mainstream English. I have three classes of freshmen and two classes of sophomores. Although I was not an English major and I have never liked writing, I think I will do a much better job teaching English than I did at teaching science. The science building at Samoana has air conditioning, so I kind of wish I liked science more so I could be in the a/c all day. 

It has taken some time to adjust to life at Samoana. Do I like it as much as Tafuna? No, but it's starting to grow on me. My kids drive me crazy, as teenagers will do, but they're mine and I have to try to do my best with them while trying to teach them to do their best as well. 

If you would like to donate students desks and/or English material, that would be great. I currently have nine desks and over thirty students in one of my classes, which means someone is sitting on the floor in every class.

-WorldTeach alumna Chaundra
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