Kaselehlie (Hello) from Phonpei, FSM!
I have been in Phonpei for almost two months now for Peace Corps. Pre-service Training or PST. PST is as busy and stressful as my senior year in college. Everyday, Monday through Friday all of the volunteers attended classes from 8:30am- 5pm. Our training includes safety, health, agriculture and TEFL training courses. Plus, our favorite three to four hours of language lessons for our permanent volunteer site.
This past month we had TEFL training alongside 20 local elementary and high school teachers, or host-country teachers. This past few weeks we worked with the teachers to host a summer school for local children from fourth to eighth grade. Each HCT was partnered with a PCT to co-plan three weeks of summer school. I worked with my HCT to co-plan our fourth grade class. I quickly discovered the wide-variety of education levels in my classroom. A few of my students cannot read in English, the majority read at a first grade level, and two students excel beyond the Micronesian education expectation for third grade language arts. The biggest challenge in my classroom, which we were warned about throughout training, is critical thinking. The concept “to create your own,” hasn’t quite found its way into the classroom, and throughout Pohnpei students struggle with thinking on their own, discovering their opinion and using previous knowledge to come to a conclusion.( If you’re reading this and you’re a teacher please comment with advice on introducing critical thinking to young students.)
So, teaching has been going great, this Thursday will be my last day teaching before I move to a wonderful state called Kosrae, where I will teach for two years. I’m working hard in my Kosrean language class to insure that I pass the Language Proficiency Index Exam, which I will take in three weeks. But, I will tell you more about Kosrae later.
My host family has been phenomenal. I live with my Nohnoh and Papah (mom and dad), three brothers, ages 34, 17 and 10 and two sisters, 27 and 6. The younger children are actually grandkids but I refer to them all as siblings to make things less confusing. My Papah is the mayor of our municipality, I catch a ride with him on his way to work, the school I teach at is next door to his office. In the car ride we chat about Pohnpeian and American politics. I’ve become close with my 10-year-old brother, I refer to him as my shadow because he likes to know where I go and follow me when I go there. He attends the summer school I teach at and on the weekends we usually go swimming at the nearby ancient ruins or watch volleyball at the court down the road. On Sunday’s I attend the Protestant Church with the family. There is usually a birthday party, wedding or funeral to attended after service. I then have a few hours to finalize a day of lesson plans for Monday and cram in some language studying.
The past few weeks have been flying by since I’ve been so occupied, which has kept me from feeling homesick. But, I do miss all of my friends and family and eating gelato and my grandma’s spaghetti.