Monday, June 22, 2009

Earning our Keep (finally)

While I know I've been mentioning our research a bit in all of my posts, really we were all just on a paid vacation (thank you, Brown University). Until today, that is. After weeks of waiting, we finally got a chance to meet with some kids and collect data.

After an early morning (though, I slept through my alarms and Kirstin woke Gabe and I up at 6:45am instead of 6:15am), we packed up the car with supplies and headed over to Taputimu (just west of us). We were spending the morning working at Sharon's house. Sharon is one of the four Samoan researchers we found to work with, and her father is the priest at the church in the center of Taputimu. Thus, she has a big house centrally located (right next to the church). Since most of the kids in the village are attending "Samoan School" (we're not really sure what that is) at the Church for first few weeks of the summer, it was easy for us to spend the day measuring some of them.

Before today, Sharon got consent forms signed for 10 kids, all between ages 8 and 12. With only a few minor flaws (e.g. the electric blood-pressure cuff running out of batteries toward the end), we were able to successfully collect all of the data we needed. We got 4 urine samples from each child and gave them an activity monitor to wear for the next 7 days. We will return next Monday to collect the activity monitors and collect 2 more urine samples each.

After our initial interaction with the kids, we took a break to eat some Samoan breakfast (graciously prepared by Sharon's mother) - cocoa rice. It's Samoan Cocoa and coconut milk mixed in with rice. Interesting mix, but delicious.

As things wound down around noon, we got to tour around Sharon's place a bit. Her family (which is innumerably large) owns a pigery in the back, full of about 10 massive pigs and 2 litters of piglets. Her brothers wer cracking and peeling some coconuts to feed the pigs (fattens them up, they say). Their incredible skill at at husking and peeling the coconuts made it look easy, but Sharon reminded us that it was not at all. We also toured through the plantation behind her house and got some fresh guavas and bananas to take home. We also, for the first time, tried breadfruit, which is starchy but not as much so as taro.

When we finished with the last child around 1:30, Sharon, Marie, and Richard (two of the other reserachers) led us by car over to some swimmable caves. None of us had bathing suits, but it looks like fun and we plan on going back some day at low tide to swim under the rocks and out into the ocean.

We arrived home to find that we had no water, so we're waiting for our landlord figure out what's wrong with that. However, we all feel very accomplished to have made it through the first day of actual work.

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