Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Local" Christmas Party

     Tonight was the night of the school Christmas party that is planned by the "local" teachers (not all the teachers at Pohnpei SDA are SMs). As usual it turned out to be a lot of fun. Social gatherings revolve around food here so it was of course present. It was a potluck of sorts, with everyone bringing their own dish. Turkey, fish, rice, titus (my favorite fried banana thing here), various curries, different plant roots, and a lot more were covering the many tables.  Oh the fun.
Laura and her T.A. Mrs. Jano
    The gym was filled with "Reggae Christmas" tunes and a constant murmer of voices broken by outbursts of laughter as everyone found a group of people to carry out a conversation with. I tried someone new this time, but sat down on a broken batman action figure right as I tried to open up the conversation. Awkward moment, for an already quiet conversation. Then the night started with a presentation of thanks to my cousin Laura who is concluding her stay here before Christmas and a short message about the meaning of this time of year. Then the music began again and all the SMs were told to take our seats so that the local ladies could come around a place leis on our heads. It was the first one I have received since I missed the group's first day here so it was all new to me.  Then a lady came around spraying one squirt of a perfume on each of us followed by the principle's wife who quickly rubbed coconut lotion on us (traditionally it is done over most of a person as a greeting, but time was short).  We were then told to dig in after the ladies uncovered the food - another custom at mealtime. We all loaded up and then waited for the "show" to start.
     Some of the local teachers and church ladies put on different skits for us and dances meant to make us laugh and man was it hilarious.  We were all rolling in our seats as each new character (of ladies we all now know) began their dance to the island dance party mix.  One woman began randomly doing jumping jacks once she ran out of moves while my favorite, a very quiet and dry-humored woman with grandchildren, came out with her hair let loose, sunglasses (at night), lei jumping on her hair, and was shaking her hips as if she were 22. Straight face and all. To my surprise she signaled for me to come over and dance. She didn't know. She didn't know I would use the "shopping cart", the "disco", "I'm snorkeling",  or "the cat paws at the rain". Surprise was felt all around and only added to the laughter of the night. I was also able to try a new drink called "halo halo" which is made of shaved ice, coconut milk, beans boiled in sugar water, sweet red gooey squares, and that's all I can remember. It was different, but very good. I would have it again. Then the night wound down with music playing and we all retrieved our dishes from the tables. 

Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tevas and The Grip of a Mother Lioness

     We have been wanting to hike up Sokehs Rock for a pretty long time now to see a sunrise or sunset - didn't matter which apparently as long as we saw the sun do something colorful, you know how she (he?) rolls... alas though, plans to take up the adventure have been foiled by rain - something that happens a lot here.

     The hike starts out on what looks like it used to be a roughly carved staircase of large stones going up the steep mountainside, between the houses along the street. It makes you feel like you're going to find something almost forgotten going between the trees and bamboo, around corners with a cave that questions whether it is really daytime, and the endless vines hanging around like it's 4 o'clock and school is over. Eventually the stairs turn into a trail of rocks that continue to climb up the mountainside. Hiking up isn't the best part though. It is the second half of the hour when you have to rely on a cable and the massive root of plants/trees anchored to the ledges to go both horizontally and vertically. I had fun being the last one in the group with Tim Cleveland pausing and taking pictures and laughing about whatever came up, but a couple of others had a hard time facing some fears of heights. Before we began the vertical climb with the rope and cable some of us took off our shoes to go barefoot! It was pretty awesome - flat feet and all. At one point I found the perfect sized footing in the rock! It had an arch and everything and wide at the toes, narrower at the heel - I was completely enthralled while my cousin Laura was less than impressed, but attempted a "oh yeah, that's cool Nathan" - another thing we laughed about.

    Once we climbed to the top, it was a kind of small plateau that had trees in the middle. The 3 of us who came up last (not because of asthma or a fear of heights mind you) knew which direction to go and that was forward. We could see the rest of the SMs already posing for group pictures in the light of the sunset so naturally, I booked a random ledge where we were laughed at once someone noticed us trying to run back to the bushes and pretend it never happened. Needless to say, I was not the leader of the pack after that. Seeing our distress another SM named Raymond who has been here a number of years came back to show us the trail through the middle of the trees.  With knees being scraped by plants and puddles up to my ankles I said, "Well geeze, talk about a groomed path....." as I pondered the ridiculousness of where I took us when at the time it seemed "normal" to be a few steps from the ledge. We made it to the group and took our photos and then climbed back down as the sun descended. This time with flashlights on and the occasional slip and crash of someone ahead we heard "Yep, I'm okay! Just slipped on a rock..." as their pride was left behind, wishing it had bought a pair of Tevas with the grip of a mother lioness protecting her cubs. yes, a mother lioness.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Brief Synopsis of Pohnpei Beginnings

I apologize that I am starting this so late! but here it is:

The Flight:
     There was a whirlwind of questions, experiences, and confirmed e-mails in the two weeks before I sat on that plane.  One being the purchase of my ticket 10 days before. As I sat in my seat I kept thinking, "I can't be going to a foreign place for a year- I only checked one bag..." I smile at that now, but man, it was not a very comforting thought. It seemed like I had packed the same amount for the 2 month architecture class I was just on this summer. I flew from LAX to Honolulu and then to Guam where I was given a place to spend the night and then I flew to a small island called Chuuk and on to Pohnpei!  I left on wednesday morning and arrived here on Friday (skipping ahead one day because of the time difference).  I was greeted by my cousin Laura who is also an SM here and was driven to the school. I don't remember a whole lot from that first drive, except for smiling at a store called "Wall Mart" :-] I met most of the SMs on a snorkeling trip we took that day. It seemed like everyone was from Walla Walla University haha (and most are).

My First Week Here:
     My first week here was crazy! I came about two weeks late so I missed the 10 day training in Honolulu and the prep period at the school when everyone arrived which meant I had to figure out my lesson plans for that week on that first Sunday. Man was that weird, but it got done! Everyone was very helpful when I asked them questions. I had no clue what I was doing that monday morning. I thought I was going to keel over from the humidity! Not to mention looking 16 kids in the face and saying, "Good morning class! My name is Mr. Beddoe and I will be your teacher!" I'm smiling now as I write this, picturing myself at that chalkboard. There I was, teaching 1st grade after spending the last 3 1/2 years in the Andrews University School of ARCHITECTURE. The first day did not go well (to say the least), but God knows how to help a person out you know? Spending time in the early morning with the ultimate Teacher has been comforting.

This Place:
     Pohnpei, Micronesia is a tropical island and is said to be one of the wettest places on earth because of its daily rainfall (good thing I like rain). It is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and is the largest and most populated. It is beautiful! But oddly enough, it has no beaches on the main island. You have to go out to some of the smaller islands nearby for some beach time.  The SMs are in groups that share apartments located on the campus. I have one roommate, Karsten Cook, which has been great. We just got pots and pans!!!! so we can cook meals!!! We've been excited about this. Another thing is the shower - it looks like it will be cold water for 10 months- It was shocking at first, but I am getting more used to it now. Hopefully my body doesn't decide to play games this next week because I said that.... .

The 1st Grade Class and Classroom:
     1st grade (like almost all the elementary grades) is split up into 2 classes - one of now 20 students taught by myself and the other of 19 students taught by a guy named Robert Hogan.  I have 13 girls and 7 boys. I'm lucky to have the classroom I have because it is the only room with trees and grass painted on the walls to make it more fun and I have more shade than most. When it is not raining it gets very hot! Very few rooms on campus have glazing (glass) for windows. Most (including SM apartments) have what I describe as chicken wire/fencing over them to keep things out.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I am not a blogger! but because of persistent and NOSEY (said with love) friends, I will attempt this way of communicating my experiences with those of you back home and in other parts of the world! We'll see how this goes...