10 Things I Hate About You

There are plenty of moments here where I’ve wished that I was back in the United States. For example, just this past week I had such a bad lesson with my first years that I literally walked out of the classroom. Good and bad here though, are as constant as the ups and downs of a rollercoaster. The day after this disastrous lesson and the severely misbehaving children of class one, I gave probably my best lesson yet to a very receptive class 2. So, in the face of brutal heat, lightless nights, endless health issues, and all that creepy crawly stuff, I decided to make a list of all my favorite things or moments in Vanuatu so far. A reminder of the good that’s sometimes overshadowed by the bad.

  1. One morning, I got up, ate breakfast, and then asked my mom if she needed help washing clothes. No, she told me, you go rest. All I’d done so far that day was eat breakfast but it was totally acceptable to “spel smol” anyway.

  2. “We’re celebrating because it’s the New Year and that old man over there is still alive.” A woman said this to me in Bislama at a celebration that was for a man who had defied the odds of old age and was able to turn the page on another year.

  3. String bands. The music of Vanuatu. It all sounds almost exactly the same, but it’s so upbeat and cheerful.

  4. My house, with its cathedral-high ceiling and a second room big enough to hang my hammock in. The concrete floors and bamboo walls keep it so cool inside I like to claim that I have an air conditioned house. Plus, helping build it was arguably one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do.

  5. The backdrop of stars against a rolling sea of coconut trees seen while riding in the back of a pickup truck on the way to my site, the summer breeze tossing knots in my hair.

  6. The way my host family calls me “Jessie”. It reminds me of my dad and Aunt Rose.

  7. Passion fruit, grapefruit, and pineapples.

  8. The view from on top of my hill.

  9. The kids (sometimes). I spent the first couple of weeks walking through the village, sticking my tongue out at kids. After being away from site for Christmas break, the first time I walked through the village again, every kid I passed stuck their tongue out at me, without being prompted.

  10. The rain. Trust me, you’d have a new appreciation for constant rainfall if it was your only source of water. Last week I played soccer in thick mud (it gets exceptionally muddy in Narango), in a torrential downpour, with a huge group of girls from classes 3, 5, and 6. The roll of thunder was masked by shrieks of giggling girls and the slap of feet making contact with a partially deflated soccer ball.