Saturday, October 31, 2009

Email from Paul in Samoa !

Hi Brian,

Sorry it’s been such a long time. Life has been busy. How are you? How are things in the States?

I don’t know where to start it’s been so long and so much has happened. I’m not sure if I have told you my situation? It’s been over a year now since I left. The first three months were very intense. I could talk about the training phase forever. Some very good times and so very challenging things happened in those three months.

After graduating from training I was placed in my post. I’m on Savaii (the big island) in a district named Satupaitea on a Methodist school compound. The compound is sandwiched between the village of Vaega and Satufia if you want to look it up. The island is very beautiful and very peaceful. My position is a college (high school) teacher. The subjects are automotive mechanics, social studies, geography and English. The main reason I was brought here for was to teach automotive, but as in everything Samoa you need to be flexible that’s how I acquired the other classes.

The kids are great. Far different from the youth of America, not all the kids are great, of course there are a few bed ones here or there. The structure of the school day is much different than at home. Time isn’t valued that much here and not looked at equally. The other big difference is the priority of education. I would say it’s around forth or fifth. With that being said the education of the average Samoan student is very low. Not only is it low, but the worst part is that they don’t really have the ability to critically think.

Life moves pretty slow, not much big things happen, with the exception of the recent tsunami and earthquake activity that has been happening ever since. My internet availability is pretty poor. My island has one computer with dial up internet that does not work all the time. As of today we have a new office computer that we have been waiting computer less for 2 months now.

The travel situation is pretty rough. I have a bike that I use often, but it’s usually to hot. There are buses that run in the morning and afternoon, but they are often unreliable. Especially my bus! I have to take a boat to get to the other island. All together it takes about 5 hours to travel from my village to Apia. The good thing about it is that it keeps me in my village. Apia is nice to go to every once in a while, but I’m glad I don’t live there.

The language is great. I had a very tough time at first. Then one day it just clicked and I started understanding it. I tested at intermediate-high at the end of training and my language skills have improved a lot since then. Learning a second language is great. I took Spanish in high school but I was never at the level I’m at with Samoan. The bad part is when I go back there won’t be many opportunities to use it. That’s ok though. My language ability is one of the things that I’m proudest about in my life. The down side is that my English has suffered but I can get that back pretty quick.

In my free time, which I don’t have much of is usually spent with friends, or fishing oh and of course my guitar. I had a uke, but my students broke it. Surprisingly it is very hard to find a uke here. If you do find one it is usually ridiculously cheap, poor quality Chinese product.

I will be going back to the States in Dec./Jan. for a few weeks. If you want to schedule a StruMN get together somewhere in there I would love to go. If it doesn’t work out don’t worry about it. I’m very flexible with the dates and times if that helps. My ukulele skills have weakened but my guitar skills have increased a lot. Either way I should be able to hold my own. It would be nice to dust off that nice Ohana that I picked up at the Uke Fest last year. Tell everyone I say hi!

I better get going now. Thanks for sending me the email. I really appreciate it. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Communication should be a little easier now with the new computer in the Savaii office and you know the best email address to reach me at. Please get back to me when you get some free time.

Take care, Paul

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neck attachment time.

To attach the neck I needed to drill parallel to the body, NOT perpendicular to the top surface of the neck. To do this I clamped the neck to this jig, doing t this way allowed me to line up the brad point bit right in the center of the maple strip of my neck.

The bit tracked straight! I was a bit worried about this since I was just using the spring clamps.
I also wrapped the neck with a bit of rubber carpet backing to both protect it and help keep it from shifting.

Here it is all bolted on (temporarily).