Life in the South Pacific

Stop in and read all about my Peace Corps journey in Samoa! Don't forget to send me letters and emails!! Packages are always welcome too! :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Officially a Volunteer!

So Group 76 are officially volunteers! We had our swearing in ceremony in Vaie'e today and tomorrow we separate to our own villages. It's going to be real weird being on our own after being with the group for just about every waking moment. I'm looking forward to it and a little scared and nervous as well.

The past 3 weeks have flown by. The last two weeks in the village our schedules were jam packed with activities and we were either practicing for the fia fia, working on the village project or in class. But we survived and made it thru! The fia fia with the village last Friday was great. The boys did 2 slap dances, us girls did a Samoan siva, we did a sasa (slap dance) together and then we performed a mini play. It was tons of fun and the village appreciated all our effort. They went all out as well and we were showered with lavalavas, handicrafts, jewelry and fans. It was amazing. They are truly some of the kindest people ever. Later that nite my own family had their own fia fia for me. We had a BBQ. They actually went out to buy a grill so that we could have a bbq. I tried to help them put it together in the afternoon but we ended up having to redo just the stand about 3 or 4 times because I am terrible at putting things together. I ended up going to take a nap. Then my family showered me with some gifts. I was amazed. They were crying and sad to see me go. Samoans are so big on family and I was very touched.

And today it was great to see everyone again. I'll be back to visit soon I'm sure. The Teuila Festival is next week and I am very excited. It's this huge weeklong festival here in Apia and Samoans from New Zealand, Australia and the States fly in to see it. I can't wait to see what it's like.

The past few days in Apia have been crazy busy too. We've had a few more sessions, getting tours of the Peace Corps office, our access codes (finally!), seeing the hostel and meeting more of the staff here.

And I've finally linked some blogs from my group for more stories. Tim has some pictures up so be sure to check out his.

And now I'm off to run errands before everything closes! I bought a cell phone yesterday on the recommendation that it would work on Manono but then when I went to another store to activate it, another person said for sure that it wouldn't.

Cheers for now!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back in Town

It's been quite awhile since I've posted. It's been a crazy few weeks and we're always jam packed with activities and class. Let's see, where to begin?

Well, we just spent 3 weeks in Vaie'e and then 4 days at our site. Yes, we got our site placements! I'll be spending two years on the island of Manono. It's a tiny island that is about a 15-20 minute boat ride from Upolu. And it's a small boat. Think refuge-like boats. You can walk around the island in less than 2 hours. 6 of our group is in Savai'i and 7 on Upolu and Lili is with me on Manono. We're all spread apart pretty far and it's going to be so weird once we're on our own for good. It was weird going to my village the other day after getting so comfortable and familiar with the people in Vaie'e. I missed my family there. But my family on Manono is great. I have all brothers so they pick my coconuts and make my food for me. I've got one sister in law who is almost 25 and about to pop out her 4th kid. And all her kids are boys who are just adorable. The people in the village have been real welcoming so far and I think I'll like it out there.

The three weeks in Vaie'e were awesome. We are really getting to know everyone there and it's going to be sad to leave. I've established good relationships with my family and with other people in the community. We're doing a village project before we leave and we met with members of the village and we've decided on a beautification project. We're going to build them rubbish stands and we sent in a proposal to get rubbish bins. And then we're going to do some planting along the road. We also had a Tausala the nite before we came back to Apia. A Tausala is a fund-raiser where the whole village participates and everyone dances with their family when their mother's name is called. It was so much fun. A lot of my family was out of town in Savai'i for a wedding so when my mom's name was called, my sister in law surprised me by calling me to the back and then putting all these accessories on me. I had a beaded headband, this coconut necklace and this feather belt. And then I had to dance a Samoan dance with the few members of my family that were there. I wasn't sure what I was doing but I tried my best.

And tomorrow we head back to Vaie'e for another 2 weeks and then back to Apia for a week before we swear in on August 23rd. 3 weeks of training left and I'm ready for it to be over.

Now I'm off to a softball game that Peace Corps has set up with the Japanese volunteers. Us trainees have our own team I think. But wish us luck!