Since last posting, we have had quite a few outings. It was a January goal to get us all out “in the field” more, and away from books alone, and by golly we did it. One event was a long-overdue fieldtrip to the Dept. of Land and Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife office. The office handles a broad range of activities including conservation and designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), fisheries, law enforcement, and (as pictured above), the “Turtle Program.”
We got a call that the Turtle folks had caught 6 the morning after our fieldtrip and did we want to go watch them do their tagging and weighing and so on? Did we!
We also visited Tinian, the island closest to Saipan, now most famous because of its role during the last year of WWII. The battles for Tinian and Saipan were fought entirely because of the strategic location of their airfields: the U.S. utilized them for air raids against Japan, most famously to precipitate the end of the war in August of 1945. At the time, Tinian’s airport was either the busiest, or second-busiest in the world, depending on who you ask.
Today there are around 3,000 inhabitants, some of whom are native Chamorros, and also from the Philippines, China and Nepal. It is once again a sleepy, tropical paradise.
The “House of Taga” site is just as fascinating as I had hoped it would be. There is so much about the ancient Chamorros that is unknown and it is just awe-inspiring how much uniqueness and diversity there is between civilizations, along with so much sameness, too. To any readers who might end up visiting Saipan, I highly recommend the little “NMI Museum” on Middle Rd., just across from the Sugar King Park, for a brief history of who the Man of Taga might have been, and with which accomplishments he is credited.
We attended a public viewing of a film on “Aquaculture” about the benefits, and sometimes disastrous outcomes, of farming sea creatures. We visited the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ, on Middle Rd.) to learn about how their lab goes about studying water quality (marine AND drinking water here on Saipan, in Tinian and on Rota). Good stuff.
The fifth grader spent a morning doing some observation at a local business, a bakery/coffeeshop that uses a shipping container as its base of operations. She had been intrigued by it and wanted a chance to experience what a day’s work is like inside that big orange box. She loved it.
We have gone hiking and snorkeling and then hiking again. There has been soccer and piano and I even helped judge the “Musical Solo” acts for the local Thespian club (there is a local Thespian club, fyi). This morning I conducted homeschool while caring for a friend’s newborn. Luckily for me, she is the quietest, most easy-going baby in the world (I had us all dressed, lesson plans and individual checklists ready, everyone dressed and breakfasted and at her house by 7:15. I felt like a champ). It was pure pleasure.
We haven’t had a “normal” week in what feels like a very long time. I squeeze in the Math practice and Writing assignments between travel and fieldtrips and visits with guests. We haven’t been to the library in weeks because it feels like we haven’t slowed down long enough lately to do any of that sort of thing. It’s fun, and it is also difficult to keep up the pace.
It has provided plenty of time for me to feel insecure about The Results. How much of this will the kids actually remember? How much of practical use are they really gaining from all of this? Once we do settle down, what skills do we need to hone in on that have gone neglected for a few weeks? It is hard not to think in these terms, and I think those are good questions to ask, anyway. I do have to answer for my work here at the end of this year, and I should not pretend that I do not.
So, onward and forward, whether we are outdoors or in.