When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

My first year as a teacher is over. The end of my time in American Samoa is rapidly approaching. We leave Manu’a any day now, sail to Tutuila, and wait for our flight Friday night. I land in Chicago Sunday morning. In less than a week I will be home. I can’t wait to see my family, spend time with my friends, play with my dog, and enjoy the wide selection of fruits and vegetables found in every supermarket. But leaving is hard. This has been one of the best years of my life. I got to live the dream. I spent a year teaching amazing students while living in a tiny village of welcoming families on a gorgeous and remote tropical island. I formed what I hope will be lifelong friendships, snorkeled on pristine reefs, hiked the height peak of American Samoa, visited the only US National Park south of the equator, and proved to myself that I can do what I set my mind to. I learned that I can teach on my own and that I may even be kind of good at it. I tried new things and traveled to some amazing places. It can’t get much better. I know that someday the experience must end. There are others adventures to be had. But I feel like my work here has just begun. Leaving won’t be easy. I wanted to write more about the week of graduation festivities, but looking at the pictures of my final moments with my kids makes me cry. Every goodbye leaves me fighting back tears. A few of the village kids have gotten clingy since realizing our departure is nearing. One in particular just keeps repeating “I’ll really miss you Miss Jackie” and giving me giant hugs several times a day. How do I say goodbye, possibly forever? I want to ensure he gets the education he deserves, along with every other child on this island. I want all my kids to get the education they need to achieve their dreams. I want them to always have someone who believes in them and pushes them to continue learning. So to the future teachers at Manu’a High School, take good care of my kids. So many teachers have come and gone, but they all still care so much. And to my students, keep working hard and never give up. You all have so much potential. And to the people in Manu’a, thank you for becoming my second family and making me feel welcomed and loved while so far from home. I will miss this place more than anything. I hope to be back. Maybe as teacher. Maybe just to visit. But no matter where life takes me, I will always carry a bit of Manu’a with me. This island and its people are in my heart forever. As my crazy juniors once sang, “If you are a Sega, we’ll never let you go. Treat you like a family, you’ll never be alone”.

Once a Sega, always a Sega!

4 thoughts on “When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

  1. Hi Miss Jackie. I am not too sure if you still remember me lol But anyways, thank you so much for this Blog about your experience in Manu’a. I can’t believe I am just now reading this. It’s just amazing. Always remember that Manu’a will always be your home. Your work in Manu’a is greatly appreciated and I will never forget you as well. I hope and pray that you are still well and that you are doing good wherver God has taken you at this point. God bless you abundantly in every way possible. Alofa atu!

  2. Thank you for sharing your Manu’a adventures. I am from Fitituta and visits often in the last 10 yrs. The photos are beautiful, I miss that place so much. It is nothing like it was 40 yrs. ago when surviving off the land and what it provided was a beautiful and a nature part of life. Now with most of the farm land turned into a national park, it’s a transgression against the people as farming and fishing is their bread and butter. Plantations was a way to control the growth of unwanted weeds and now Manu’a is covered with stubborn Chinese vines and its killing most of the beautiful vegetations including spread of fruit trees. However, it’s always nice to hear people’s story about Manu’a. You might have learned after a while on how to deal with students in Manu’a. Raising kids there takes a collective effort of school, families and community. One note of misbehaving to the parents is a for sure resolution in solving a student’s behavior in the classroom, bad behavior will immediately stop when parents are called, at least in my days. We were spanked by the teacher and than sent to principals office and got spanked again but the worst beating is from parents for misbehaving, needless to say there was no such thing as misbehaving and disrespecting teachers at school those days. I’m shocked about the misbehaving problems in Manu’a. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh, Jackie, please don’t cry! I’ll climb a tree to make you laugh! You will spend your life always leaving something behind, the trick is to make sure you keep looking forward!

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