Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Good at Island Time

Today I missed my “last dance” because of island time.

Let me back up a bit. Today is Education Day, which means that all the educators on the island celebrate learning by taking a day off school. The event was held at PICS, the high school in Kolonia. Everyone assembles at 9am to hear speeches, sing songs, dance dances, play games, and eat. This is how we celebrate everything else, so it works for education, too.

On Tuesday of this week, I was conscripted into the Madolenihmw teachers’ dance team. We met at MHS (Mad. High School) for a couple of hours each afternoon – three days of practice in all for those, like me, who joined a bit late. (The early birds started last week, apparently.) Although some men joined in the signing, the dancers were all women. We learned three dances: a locomotive one to make an entrance, a stationary one to perform in the middle, and another locomotive one to make our exit. The dances were primarily shuffling feet with lots of swiveling hips, accompanied by sign language-inspired hand motions to act out the words of the songs. All very typical for PNI dance.

It was great fun to go to dance rehearsals this week. The special education teacher at my school and I carpooled each afternoon. We’ve never been especially close, and it was a great opportunity to bond with her. She bragged to the other teachers about how fast I learned the moves. It was also the first time I’d had any major time to interact with other teachers in my municipality. There were a few familiar faces from past teacher trainings and meetings, but this was the first time we had a fun project to work on together.

Needless to say, I was pretty pumped about our performance today. I had my steps down. I had my “uniform” all in order – black skirt (the one with my name embroidered on it) and red shirt (a tank top from The Village Hotel that I turned inside out.

Principal had given me a schedule of the day’s events and I had everything planned out. I got in to town early this morning to take care of some errands. In a stroke of devious brilliance, I had intended to arrive around noon, in order to skip the speeches but partake in the food and the dancing.

However, when I was walking to the event around 12:15, I spotted my principal driving away from it. He pulled over and said, “Mollie! Your group is dancing right now!”

Sure enough, the entertainment section of the day was in full swing and my group had already performed. I snuck in and sat with my group, drawing many cries of: “You’re late! You missed it!” They said they had done a good job, but it would have been even better if I had been there.

So, with two and a half weeks left on Pohnpei, I have finally adapted to the point that I’m even later than the rest of the island’s “island time.” I guess I can’t get away with showing up three hours late and expecting to be on time, now, can I?