Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recent Highlights and Thanksgiving

Life continues to fly by as usual. Today, however, I suddenly felt cold for the first time in months. I had a quick onset of the chills- some type of illness is spreading rapidly across the islands. From Majuro to Gugeegue, many of the teachers have been catching whatever it is that's going around. I think we've all reached a breaking point. From my point of view, we like to think we can handle all that is thrown at as because that's what we are here for and it's the commitment we have made. As we've learned this week, the stress eventually catches up and takes a physical toll. Unfortunately, this is the worst time to be sick. The first quarter is coming to an end and next week is finals week. I feel a mixture of relief and worry. I am pleased with the material I have covered thus far and am proud of many of my student's hard work and also of my own accomplishments as a teacher. At the same time, I am worried about those students that have fallen behind and are failing. In some cases, it's a lack of effort on their parts. In others, I am sorry that I don't have the time and resources to be of assistance to those students who really need extra help. I feel discouraged in my ability to help these students mainly because my lack of Marshallese skills and inability to relate to them in any way.

Anyhow, I don't mean to constantly complain and make life sound so difficult. For the times that I feel in despair or frustrated, I remind myself of how lucky I have been with my own opportunities (and education) in my life so far. I also think of how purposeless I would feel if I wasn't doing anything to help others who haven't been as lucky as I have been. For the most part, I wake up each morning and go to bed at night happy with myself and where I am. That is and should be all that I ask for.

Since I haven't written in a while, I'll list the highlights of the past few weeks...

A few weeks ago, we went fishing in the rain with our kind and friendly neighbors, Andrea, Terry and their adorable 3 year old son, Sebastian. Together, we caught about 20 fish (3 of which I caught) and we ate them later for dinner. While fishing, I spotted my first shark. He was only a foot long but it scared me considering that I had been diving to unhook the fishing line and bait that was stuck on coral.

Last Friday, we checked out the nightlife on Ebeye. We went to a bar/club with some of our coworkers. The night was fun- especially the dancing. The following day, Amanda and I walked to our secret swimming spot I have renamed mermaid's lagoon. We relaxed in the beautiful water for a few hours as the tide quickly came in. Lara met us at the spot a few hours later so we stayed and became prunes in the water for a while longer. Finally, we realized that the tide had come in higher than we had ever seen before. We looked towards the end of the island where we had come from. The waves were breaking against the tree line and we came to terms with the fact that there was no chance of getting back around the island the way we had came. It was clear that we could not get back lagoon side unless swimming (as there was nothing left of the beach). We considered waiting it out but couldn't because of how hungry, thirsty, sunburnt and pruney we were. Amanda and I decided to cross the very thick mysterious jungle that covers most of the island (our mp3 players deterred us from the long swim). Lara, whose number one fear is spiders, began swimming away after one look in the cob-web infested jungle. Amanda and I, in our soaking wet guams (that resemble night gowns) looked like a mixture of Wendy from Peter Pan and a wizard from Harry Potter as we stumbled in, over and between branches while we waved wand-like branches in front of us to snag the oncoming spider webs. To keep our morale up, we yelled out spells along the way. We finally emerged from the jungle proud of our small accomplishment. As we reached the meeting point of the island we had been stuck on and Gugeegue, we met up with Lara. She had successfully swam back with her bag tied around her neck. We were surprised to see that the tide was so high that the 40 foot coral pathway between the islands, that is usually completely exposed, was now covered with water. We walked knee-deep through the water directly where the ocean and lagoon met. Looking to either side was a very memorable spectacle. I was standing, literally, in the middle of pacific ocean :-)