Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Tribute to Year 8

My last picture with year 8, after
their prize giving--Dec. 2, 2011.
As I believe I've said in the past, year 8 and I had a unique relationship over the past two years. When we first started our journey together in February of 2010, I was still reaching for the reigns on teaching in a foreign country and they were perhaps still grappling at how to respond to a tall white guy who wore glasses and called himself their teacher. But nevertheless, we made it through the challenges and growing pains of the beginning and quickly came to love our time together. I spent the most time with those 8 students during my teaching assignment at the primary school. I am so grateful for their smiles, persistence and patience as we traveled together each and every day.

Looking back now, it's hard to believe that they were all strangers in the beginning--so much so that I was forced to take their pictures that first week of school with them holding their names in front of them, so I could study their faces. Now they are people I will remember for the rest of my life.

As one of my going away gifts to them, I printed off that first picture I had taken, which most of them had long forgotten about. I will share them now with you, so you can see how they have grown, comparing them to their current pictures from 2011! I'll also take this opportunity to share a little bit about what I'll remember each of them for! Congratulations to Year 8!


Penina was like the mother of the room. She was looking out for others along the way--including helping them cheat on a couple occassions. Of all the kids, I think she shows the most signs of wanting to become a teacher someday.


Salote was the one I could always count on to answer a question I had asked, or to offer to come up to the board to write out an answer. She's a great reader as well.


Christopher was one of my weaker students, but the amount he grew during our time together was so amazing to see. This kid never gave up, and he fought hard each and every day--with a smile on his face!


Luisa was my steady worker who I always could count on. If I needed to trust someone with a certain task, she was the one I'd ask.


Saulo was my translator in times of need. He also made a great aid, helping the slower learners after he was finished with his work--a very gifted student.


Neueli was the one who kept my spirits high on a bad day. He always came bouncing into my room every morning with a smile on his face and was always giving me a hug.


Perise arrived a term late in 2010, having moved from American Samoa, so I didn't get an early picture of her. She was my librarian. Anytime I needed the books organized, or supplies from the library, she was my go-to person.


In a previous blog I posted on December 3, 2011, I wrote about this year’s prize giving ceremony at my school. However, at the time I wasn’t able to post any pictures from that special day, so I wanted to take this opportunity to tie up that loose end. I’ll post the pictures below with a short description about each one. Again, prize giving is the last day of school for Samoan students where they receive their awards for the school year. This year I found myself holding back emotions as I knew that day was the official end of my work at the school. We had a great celebration, and the kids were as happy as ever!

The evening before prize giving all the year 7 and 8 kids came up to the school to decorate and clean for the event. Here the kids are placing palms around the outside posts of the school for decoration.

The national flower of Samoa, the Teuila, was used for decoration at the school. All the kids were responsible for bringing a few to help with the cause!

The kids are seated and ready for the program to begin. They were told by the principal to have their school uniforms clean for the special day. Notice that the boys and girls are seated separately.

The mayor of the village was asked by the principal to help pass out the awards to some of the kids.

After prize giving with teachers, principal and school committee members.

With teachers, Letaulau and Maria after prize giving.

Not only one of my year 8 students, Saulo was also my personal Samoan tutor, and more importantly, one of my best friends in the village. Here we are together with his going away gift to me, which his father made and he was so proud of!

The candy necklaces I received from students and parents during prize giving.

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