Well, here I am.
Satowan is a small island—it only takes about 40 minutes to walk from one end to the other. All the people live on the lagoon (west) side of the island and there is one main road that goes the length of the island. The road is made mostly of packed sand and is pretty well maintained. One thing that I never considered before coming to the FSM is how much of an impact a good, clean road has on the aesthetics of a place. It makes the entire area feel safer, cleaner, and like that people care about their island. I live about 100 yards from the ocean and can go swimming whenever I feel like it. To be honest, I haven’t really taken advantage of this yet, but I’m sure that I will once I get a little more comfortable. My house and living conditions are very comfortable. I have a real queen sized mattress, a wardrobe-ish thing to hang my clothes and some cubbies to store my things, and a manual flush toilet (as in, you dump a bucket of water in the bowl).
My first two weeks have actually been pretty busy. The Department of Education in Chuuk mandated that every school in the state complete a School Improvement Plan and turn it in to the DOE by December 15th. This is a large document that schools and communities were supposed to work on all semester. Well, I arrived on December 1st and quickly discovered that my school had done pretty much no work on their SIP and expected me to essentially write it for them. I did my best to throw together some meetings so that this would be as much of group effort as possible, but I still ended up writing pretty much the whole thing. Also, the principal of the high school on the island asked me to “help” write their SIP as well. I kind of put my foot down about that because that isn’t my school. I told him that I would minimally help correct it, but that I wouldn’t write it because it isn’t my job to do that. I’m not here to do anyone’s job them. I am happy to help you do your job better, but I will not do it for you.
The whole SIP fiasco and just school in general has been a bit frustrating. I will save my ranting for private emails and letters, but suffice to say that there are a lot of issues with the school. The principal clearly sees me as an all-inclusive fixer of everything and defers to me on pretty much everything even though I have made it clear that I work for him, not the other way around. Hopefully things will improve the more we work with each other.
Other than the school situation, pretty much everything else is good. My Chuukese is coming along, albeit slowly. I have met some people in the community and I meet more every day. I have gotten into a routine of playing basketball with a bunch of the guys every afternoon for about an hour, which has been really nice. I do end up spending quite a bit of time alone, which has taken some getting used to. I am not a solitary person at all, so living even a partially solitary lifestyle is a bit tough. I find that I often think about friends and family back home and my fellow PCVs who I won’t see until March. I have learned, however, to see the benefit in being alone at times as it gives me time to process what I am doing and why I am here. As it turns out, the answer to those questions is much more complicated now than they were before I left. I guess it’s all part of the adjustment.
Happy holidays everyone! Christmas and New Years are supposedly the two biggest holidays of the year here, so I’m sure I’m in for a good old time.
Lots of love,