Friday, January 15, 2010

My Job

I realized that I neglected to explain what my job consisted of here in Samoa. Thus, while it is long overdue, it is important nonetheless.

My primary duty here in Matatufu is to be an English teacher in the local primary school. After years of unsuccessful village-based development projects in the country, group 82 (my group) is the pioneer of the new TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) PC program in Samoa.

My secondary duty here is to continue to the previous unsuccessful project: village-based development projects. All of the projects must be sustainable - meaning volunteers do not contribute solely through monetary means. Instead, the goal is to build capacity in the villages in which people can continue projects on their own without the assistance of a volunteer and perhaps even develop their own projects.

While the Peace Corps designed my job to meet the >40 hour work week, I am really on-the-job 24/7: My behavior will affect my ability to integrate into the culture and work with village counterparts. After a while, the anxiety of always being watched by villagers and always being "perfect" can be exhausting.

So far, these past two months have been a real culture shock. Being the only white female living in the village, I'm constasntly being watched and asked where I'm going. Furthermore, it is culturally insound to be walking alone especially as a female. However, given the responsabilities of my job, I have made it a point to be seen walking/running alone every day. Thus, not only has it been an adjustment for me, but also for the villagers. My presence and daily behavior models a deviating lifestyle that allows for a semi-two-way cross-cultural exchange.

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