Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pohnpei Cultural Day/ My Birthday

Today I was greeted with warm cinnamon rolls brought by one of the girl's apartments across the way and a youtube clip of the chipmunks singing "Happy Birthday" to me which was chosen by my roommate. "Since I can't sing..." was what Karsten said with a smile. I was impressed.

Then a group of us went to the local festival to watch some traditional dancing from the surrounding islands (or at least the islands that are represented by the people who live here).  There were groups for Kosrae, Sapwuafik, Yap, Chuuk, and others representing the municipalities of Pohnpei. It was raining all day today, which caused some changes to be made in the initial outdoor setup for the event, but it was a lot of fun! It was great to see how instantaneous the effects that music and dance have on a group of people. Especially if it is one representing their culture. Each dance had it's own way of making the audience yell and laugh in excitement. The festival was created in order to stifle the overwhelming effects of the continual Westernization of the island. Things like clothing, food, construction, government, and how the Pohnpeian language is used are a few examples that have seen changes. You can hear it in many passing local conversations where english words are used in the middle of Pohnpeian sentences where there is no word for the translation. So Pohnpei Cultural Day was created to keep local traditions alive. A little tid-bit.

My Island Mom ("Nohno") Eileen Wolphagen

Kolonia (Pohnlik)

ECE Kolonia School showing the making of Sakau

Nukuoro Island

Laura Maas and her basket of food



Kapingamarangi (village is known for wood carvings)


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Cards

We made Valentine's Cards to take home on Monday in honor of the day - here are some pictures of how it went!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1st Grade Teachers Pee Their Pants Too

     Sunday became a time of male bonding (plus Carly) with 14 men taking the boat out to fish outside the reef of Pohnpei.  The seas were rough, but it made for a fun ride with many cowboy calls and laughter at the excitement of being off campus.  Two "locals" took us out on the boat- one was Mr. Benjamin (aka Mr. B) who was the principal of the school last year and the other was Noli who is the guy to go to if you need anything fixed. They know what they are doing out there. There are no fishing rods here that I've seen, but different strengths of fishing line attached to spools (depending on the size of the fish you are dreaming of) so one guy holds the line while the other hopes to keep up winding speed with 2 teams at the stern of the boat.  The key was to look for where the birds were flying/feeding to know where the fish would be and we would drive around as they flew. It was a lot of fun with big swells and waves and a great view of Pohnpei as the backdrop. On an earlier trip I didn't go on they caught a fish only minutes after putting in the lines everytime, but this time we only came home with one 4-5 foot Mahi Mahi. But this is not the story of the day:
     About 2 hours into the trip (1 p.m.) I was riding those waves with a full bladder on a boat with no bathroom. I of course didn't want to be the reason to stop the constant pace at which we had been hurling ourselves across the waves so I said not a word, only silent prayers of a "swimming" break. Eventually another SM named Mike blurted out that he had to do the same and seeing that we were between fishing spots decided that off the stern (back of the boat) was a good place to go since both lines were reeled in. He was a natural. "Well, I could do that!" I thought and finally worked up the courage to scoot down the side wall I was sitting on and give it a try. I couldn't relax for the life of me. Knees knocking, boat shifting, waves jumping. Are you kidding???! I'm more of a peaceful brook-side kind of a guy. So I velcro-ed back up and sat back down. Still feeling the needles in my bladder growing ever fierce and telling Tim Cleveland that no, I had not been successful.  Fifteen minutes later I decided I couldn't hold it anymore, it was my limit. We hadn't made it to the next flock of birds yet so I braced again at the back of the boat. This time with Andy Helm chiming in from the front of the boat, "Hey Nathan, what are you doin' there bud?" with a jocular tone. "You know what I'm doin' Andy so don't be lookin'!" I yelled as the boat laughed at the impending situation. I couldn't go. Not a single drop. This happend a total of three times after which I gave up and told myself "Nathan, God wouldn't make you without a reserve tank to fill" and I sat back down. Ten minutes later? Yeah, that tank was full and I had no where to go, but overboard. So I did. I said, "Mr. B, wait. I just have to hang onto the side here for a bit. There's no other way." So I grabbed one of the bouy hooks and flung myself over into the water like a Spartan mounting his horse. By this time, the SMs weren't looking at the birds, only my questionable effort to pee in the middle of the ocean with land visible, but not swim-able.  As I was hanging on and answering numorous humorous questions about how I was doing, Mitch Seltman kindly offered to grab my hands and hold me alongside the slow moving boat to allow me to completely relax. I told him I never have and don't plan on having a guy hold my hand while I urinate. I realized two things in that moment. One being, "Wow, I have made friends here that would offer their hand in helping me pee. We must be close." And the other being, "Well what do I do now? That was my final sure-fire attempt at beating mother nature without completely embarrassing myself." Remember the line "I'll never let go Jack"? Well Jack let go. Jack let go of the bouy hook with a sense of finality and determination - both of which ditched me and decided to hop back on the boat, because I remembered Shark Week telling me sharks can smell blood from miles away "so why not urine?" At this point I was floating back with the fishing line so I grabbed the best I could as suggestions of what should happen next sprang from those in the boat. Somehow the line became wrapped around my pointer finger and I was being pulled (for a tiny ways) with that being my only connection the propelling motion. Images of myself relearning a new fingering style for playing piano with a nub flooded my brain so I yelled "stop!"  and released myself. I then swam to the boat.
     The looks on my friends' faces were both confused and concerned before some laughter broke out. Embarrassed was an understandment, but this kind of thing happens, right? Maybe not.  "Do you feel better Nathan?" Tim kindly asked with a grin only to remind me that I had not yet peed. Nothing! But what could I do now? I mean what else could you do that is beyond jumping overboard on boat? I for sure could not just nonchalantly try again off the stern. So I sat back down and we resumed fishing. I took up my post as a reeler and the boat sped forward taking my bag of needles with it. Not too long after we began fishing again, there was a sudden stop to the boat and three of the four of us fishing in the back fell to the floor with a crash and some moans mixed with laughter were shared. I sat up and decided the floor would be just fine for the time being.  Some came to see if we were hit too badly to which we said we were just fine and Mitch followed by asking if I felt better referring of course to the rest of the trip. I said, "Mitch, I still haven't peed...." "What?! Oh man!" And then he said it. Mitch said with a mumbled laugh, "Well you could just pee your pants." Two important factors played roles in my decision for what would happen in the next few moments as a 1st grade teacher on a fishing trip. I was more relaxed sitting on the floor of that boat than I had been since we started outside of the reef AND the waves/rain were splashing the deck every few seconds anyways. So I peed as I sat there holding the fishing reel and replaying all my previous attempts.
     It was not a particularly proud moment in my own "becoming an adult" stage of life, but there have been many little things God has taught me through my connection to nineteen 6 and 7 year olds. Some you can't put into words and many you can only laugh and smile.  1st grade teachers pee their pants too.

Be humble!

Tim Cleveland and his Mahi Mahi
Picture taken by: Carly Barruga