Thursday, July 17, 2008

I’ve been procrastinating about writing here for a long time, I’m sorry. During June I was in Africa and not nearby a computer that I could spend significant amounts of time working on. By the time I got back, the task of recapturing everything I had experienced grew so large that it intimidated me. Now finally I’m sitting down with the notes I took and I’ll try to put together a little bit of narrarative to go with the pictures. I don’t think that I’ll make it all the way through the trip back to Africa, but I promise to write about that soon.

Graduation was fantastic! The staff at CMI put in so much work to make it absolutely beautiful. Now that I’ve been teaching at CMI for 2 years, I have taught or advised more of our students and so the event was more meaningful. I’m so excited for the wonderful things that our graduates are going to go out and do. Many of the elementary school teachers that I taught at CMI are heading out to various outer-islands to go and put their teaching skills to work. Some of our nurses will head to the Majuro hospital (where I hope to see them only as a visitor, not a patient!) and many Liberal Arts, Nursing, Business, and Education students are headed overseas in August to pursue their Bachelors degrees (mostly in Hawaii). I’m excited for all the wonderful new things they will experience and learn. It’s almost as exciting as when I left home for the first time to go to University.

During the week after final exams, I packed up my entire office and moved it to a new location. The new Math, Science, and Nursing building is very nice, and my new office has a window that faces the ocean, framed with palm fronds. It’s also significantly bigger, so much so that I can probably fit an entire class inside (provided I can find enough chairs). I also packed up my whole entire house and left it at Susan’s house. I’ll be moving to a new apartment when I return in August. I liked my old place, but it’s time for a change, and my new landlord is fantastic. The family that owns the new apartment, the Chutaros, are a very influential and progressive family. Ben and Suzanne are young parents about my age who are movers-and-shakers in the community. Suzanne is assistant editor of the newspaper and Ben does consulting work for the Asian Development Bank. Ben’s father, Chuji, helped write the RMI constitution back in the 1970’s and his mom Beverly moved to Majuro 40 years ago from Ohio and teaches Social Sciences with us at the college. The new place is close to the college, nice and green and opens up onto the lagoon, has a boat launch, bbq area, and is just a nice, quiet place to be. I’m looking forward very much to a little change.

Isabel and I were on the same flight leaving Majuro, so we decided to share a hotel in Waikiki while waiting for our connecting flights. There were several other CMI folks on our flight, and I ended up sitting next to Nate Lennox, the 4 year old son of Jennifer and Randall (both of whom are colleagues from the college). He was so cute. Every other sentence he said started with, “Oh for cwying out woud!” Good reminder to watch what you say around 4 year olds!! We landed in Honolulu at 3am and then went through immigration and customs. Isabel and I had booked the cheapest hotel possible through since we were only going to stay for about 6 hours before going back to the airport. We found it quite ironic that the only taxi we could find to take us to our cheap hotel at 4am was an aging stretch limo complete with a wet bar and neon lights flashing across the top. We sat sideways on the cushy leather seat and then hopped out and drifted off to sleep. Now walking around Waikiki (or any city for that matter) after spending 5 months on an isolated island with a population of 26,000 (mostly children) is quite a shock to the system. For one thing, suddenly people are taller. Also there are extremely attractive people and you realize how out-of-touch you are with the latest styles (who cares!). Going to stores is overwhelming because there’s WAY too much to choose from and everyone accepts credit cards. And you also realize just how spoiled and ignorant American tourists are, and hope that this was not the way you acted once upon a time. I also realize that my life is very different (since I hang out with expatriates all the time on Majuro, I don’t feel out of place) than most of my peers who are married with 2 kids, a house in the suburbs, and annual vacations to Hawaii. For us, Hawaii is just a stop-over for us on our way back to the life we put on hold before we moved out to the Pacific.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. My mom came down to the airport to pick me up (bless her heart, it’s become a ritual for her every 6 months and she does it uncomplainingly!) I spent Memorial Day with my parents, Clay, Cullen & Cash, and Cammie. Cash is a delightful baby and lots more fun than now that he’s getting bigger. Clay, Cammie and I went up to the old Future Farmer’s of America fair in Healdsburg where we used to spend every Memorial Day soaking Teriyaki chickens and burgers and working in the booth. It brought back fun memories of our growing up years. A few short days later I packed both my winter and summer clothes (for a trip to both Northern and Southern hemispheres) and my mom drove me down to the airport again, this time to catch at KLM flight overseas. Looking forward to adventures yet wishing for a little bit more time in my comfort zone at home. I'll write more about the trip later!

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