Monday, January 26, 2009

Back to Majuro

So far this semester is off to a rip-roaring start! Well, it’s not even the start of the semester. We’ve just finished midterms and spring break. But I just feel like life has been moving at warp-speed and dragging me behind it!

I moved back to my old apartment block just before the trip to FSM, which has been really great. I LOVED my new place in Uliga, but it was on the other side of town from all my friends in my Small Island community, and I just got lonelier and lonelier in my new place. I found myself watching hours and hours of TV and not really getting out and doing anything meaningful with my life. So Stacey took on my lease and I moved back to “Jane’s Corporation” in January before I left for my trip. It’s a different apartment (4 doors down from my old one) but the layout is exactly identical. So far it has been really great to interact more with my Marshallese community and I feel less isolated when I go to church because I’m more involved in the lives of these friends and visa versa.

One of the funnest things about living in a country where English is spoken as a second language is small but very amusing mistakes that change the meaning of what someone intended to say. Take this sticker from the Division 7-12 store, for example. It just cracks me up every time I read it! “Thankyou, and have a New Year.” To which I respond, “Ok, thanks, I’ll try!” Another really funny one is the answer that one of my students wrote on their homework. The question read: Please write the set {Adam, Eve} using a written description. The student wrote, “The set of the first two people who landed on earth.” Well, yes, I get the idea...but according to the Bible, they didn't exactly come in a UFO! I also love this sign that I saw on the bathroom door at Monica's Chinese restaurant earlier this week. "So wait, you're encouraging smoking, or not?" One more funny thing that reminded me that yes in fact I am in the Marshall Islands: I went to the Tide Table (an American style restaurant) a couple weeks ago and my friend ordered a hamburger. The waitress said, “Do you want a hamburger sandwich or with Rice?” What!?! She tried to clarify, “Hamburger between two pieces of bread, or surrounded by a lot of rice.” Oh, that clears it up! Ha ha ha! Oh my goodness, I love living here!

In late January, after tossing around the idea for several weeks, some friends from work and I finally got bored enough that we jumped off the Long Island Bridge. The bridge is the highest elevation in the entire country (it’s about 30 feet from the water at low tide and about 25 feet at high tide). It’s the place where smaller boats can cross from the relative calm of the lagoon out to the Ocean. It’s also a hang-out spot for locals to fish or just shoot the breeze. So after Peter checked the exact time of high tide (to make sure there was enough water below…low tide would not be smart idea!) we headed out there. Although it doesn’t look very impressive from the side (that’s Stacey and I in flight in the photo), it’s pretty intimidating looking down from the top. We were cheered along by a group of Marshallese guys below on the Lagoon side and several cars whizzing over the bridge just behind us. Overall it was not bad. We jumped three times, didn’t break anything, didn’t land on any sharks or the decks of any boats. I would say overall we were quite fortunate. And it was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be making a regular habit of doing it.

Things are going really well at the College. It has been a nutso school year with Accreditation proceedings and such. We got the happy news in early February that the college has been removed from sanction for the first time in 7 years! We’re in the clear! But we couldn’t celebrate just yet, because the visiting team of 10 people who read our self study were on their way to inspect us for our regular 6-year accreditation visit. It went well (though I missed most if it because I was stranded in Honolulu on my way back…long story…the hotel forgot to send me a wakeup call and I had to wait for 2 more days for the next plane. Yeah, it sounds like a great place to get stranded, but it was rainy and miserable and I was stressing because I had no one to cover my classes or meetings with the team.) But now CMI's in the clear as far as the accreditation problems we've been fighting for such a long time. Though we won’t know the final decision on our accreditation until July, the exit report from the team was very positive, and it’s likely we’ll get full accreditation for somewhere between 3-6 years. Wow, all the hard work paid off, and now we can fine-tune little by little instead of constantly overhauling what we’re doing. 2+2 club has grown gigantic. We have between 25-30 students we are working with to transfer to Universities abroad in August. This little grass roots effort has mushroomed and it has become like a part-time job now (though I don’t get compensated and we still run the club without any college funding). But it’s exhilarating to be a part of helping them make this transition, and then to hear about all that they are learning and doing after they transfer. (By the way, that picture is of my reserved bike parking at CMI. Actually, it’s the reserved parking for the College President, but it’s close to my office and luckily he doesn’t mind sharing with smaller vehicles :) Cheeky, ain’t I?)

I went to California for a conference about teaching Critical Thinking in Berkeley during the last week of February. It was fantastic, but not as fantastic as seeing my family again. Honor and Grant came down from Salt Lake and the whole family was together in one place for the first time in years! It was a whirlwind 4-day visit, but was fantastic to spend some quality time together. I really lucked out and got sent to a great family! Honor generously offered to let me "borrow" the fantastic blog she posted about our time together because I’m lazy to write and also she’s so much better at keeping to the point and putting lots of pictures! Thanks Hon!

This week has been spring break. I spent the first half catching up on grading midterms and calculating midterm grades and then went on a day trip to Eneko Island (on the north side of Majuro lagoon) with some colleagues. I just got a camera with an underwater housing, so I went crazy and snapped a lot of pictures while snorkeling. The reef at Eneko is beautiful and pristine, and the variety of fish is just beautiful. While there I found Nemo and his little cousin, too!

I also got to spend some time cooking up summer traveling plans with my friend Ray. She is a teacher at Co-op Elementary school on Majuro by day and teachers part time at CMI in the evenings. She is a really, really cool person, and I’m looking forward to tromping around South-East Asia with her this summer. She and I coincidentally both landed in Kosrae during holidays just after Christmas, and found that we are similar travelers (ie: we prefer to go hiking and spend time outdoors away from the crowds, and we also like to get to know the local people and learn from them). So last weekend we exchanged our frequent flier miles for round-trip tickets to Manila, Philippines, and we’ll use that as our jumping-off point for some adventures in other countries in the region. We’ll try to visit Provinces in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and perhaps Macao or Hong Kong. Not too sure about the itinerary yet, but it’s exciting! I’ve never been to the Asian continent before, but living here in Majuro has given me lots of opportunities to get to know many Southeast Asians who are living abroad like me, and they are wonderfully nice! So I’m really looking forward!

Well, that’s about it (in a nutshell). More later…

1 comment:

Honor said...

You're SO the adventurous one! Even if Cammie, Clay and I pooled our daring moments, we couldn't compete with your apparent love for jumping from high places. That bridge jumping picture is awesome! You're much more brave than I!