Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fa'a Samoa

2 week down. I have one more week left in Apia before heading out to my training village. I will be moving in with a host family whom I’ve never met before, and essentially our group will be split up and I will not have the comfort of familiar American faces around. Let the true test begin. I must say even though I’ve been here for two weeks I feel like I’ve been here a lot longer. For example, all my clothes are officially and forever stretched out, I’ve developed some sort of rash on both of my legs, and at this very moment there is a dead cockroach in my bathroom (that I’m refusing to pickup). Back home those things would have bothered me, but not so much here. However, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been things that have upset me. Which brings me into my next topic…the Samoan language, it’s a beautiful language that when spoken correctly and fluently is great. I, however, do not speak the language with either of those things-not even close.  The other day my group and I were sitting in the common room of the hotel have our language course. The topic for the day, the alphabet and its sounds, so here I am sitting there saying “ah, eh, ee, oh, uh” and all these Samoan people who are staying at the hotel come in and just sat there staring at us and laughing at us. This went on for about 30 minutes. People would come in and just watch us trying to sound out the Samoan alphabet and cracking jokes. Let me tell you, it was not fun. I already felt awkward and stupid as it was and these people were just not making it any better. I guess I have to get used to sounding silly and realize people will make fun of me. On a lighter language side I have probably said about 5 Samoan cusswords to my teacher without even knowing it. The thing about the Samoan language it has tons of glottal stops and stresses, and if you stress the wrong letter, or stop on the wrong vowel then whoops you end up asking the bar tender for a banana when what you really meant to say was napkin. Here are a few things mistakes I have innocently made: trying to say 27 and saying –pubic hair, trying to say apostrophe and saying-fu**, and trying to say tired and saying-in between my legs. No matter what, it always comes out as a bad word, or sexual. My teachers and people in town just think its hysterical so I just smile, nod my shoulders, and play the silly pulangi card. J

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

White Sunday/ Children's Day

Children’s Day/White Sunday
Today is a holiday here in Samoa. It’s called White Sunday, it’s a day dedicated to the children. The children are spoiled with treats, new clothes and attention. I went to one of my Samoan instructor’s church to see how this day is celebrated. It was a cool thing to experience. Most people wear all white, however its mostly important the children wear white, symbolizing purity. During the church service the children performed skits, dances, and songs for the people. They sang in Samoan, and English. I was astonished because at such a young age these kids can sing in such harmony. I don’t know what it is about Samoans but they are not only big people, but also amazing singers; almost like they are genetically predisposed. After the service there was refreshments and a little get together with all the people in the church. I loved celebrating this important holiday with them. It made me feel like I was taking one small step to becoming closer understanding and being a part of their culture.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guess what??? I went to paradise!

My first weekend in Samoa has been amazing! Today a bunch of us went to a beach on the south side of Samoa. The beach looked exactly like it could have been a picture that is on your desktop on a computer! It was the most beautiful place I have ever been to in my life. I swam in the Pacific with water around 70 degrees, and to top it all off there were little tike huts on the beach that we had to relax, play cards, and eat. The only bad part about the whole day was that I became a lobster within 10 minutes! I have never put so much sunscreen on in my life, and SPF 55 at that! Anyways the day was a perfect one and I couldn’t help but think about what I would have been doing if I was back home. I’ve decided I like my outcome here in Samoa A LOT better. J This past week I have met a lot of the volunteers that have either been here for one year or two. They have been extremely welcoming to us “newbies.” They answer all our silly questions and answer them with all seriousness even though I know in their heads their probably laughing at us. I am so happy right now but I know that as time goes by homesickness and loneliness will set in. That is why I’m trying to enjoy the time I have now being with my group, and being in Apia. I’m taking one day at a time.

Nice to meet you Samoa

 Hello! I made it and I am well. After a long 10.5 hours I have landed on the island of Uplou in Samoa.  This place is gorgeous unlike anything I have ever seen. However before I get into my life so far in Samoa let me start by talking about the dreaded leave and goodbye of my home and family. So rewind to 3 days ago. My parents drove me to the airport. The whole way there my head was filled with emotions and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I was dreading saying goodbye to my family. When the time came I hugged my parents, cried, and for a split second wondered if I was making the right choice. The second passed, the hugs ended and I knew I need to take those steps towards my plane. Even though it hurt and I was sad I knew I was doing the right thing. I boarded the plane and headed for staging in L.A. Staging is when the Peace Corps group meets at a specific location to meet each other before heading towards their post, or country.  I spent the night in a hotel and the next day was bombarded with filing out paperwork and getting briefed on what to expect when we got there. Although the meetings were long and tedious I enjoyed staging because it allowed for me to become more familiar with the people in my group. Who, by the way, are all pretty cool. Then on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 my group of 20 boarded the plane to head towards Samoa. 10.5 hours later we were here. I was exhausted. I don’t know about you but I CANNOT sleep on a plane, and to top it all off we arrived around 6 am so I had to wait until that night to finally get some sleep. Therefore, I had been up for more than 30 hours. Nevertheless, I was enjoying myself. When we arrived at Peace Corps headquarters we had an Ava Ceremony. It was our welcome ceremony into the country. Other PC volunteers came in to welcome us as well. Afterwards I had information meeting one after another. That night me and a bunch of people from my group went out with some of the other PCV’s. I know I know I could have very well have gone to bed, but c’mon I couldn’t pass a Valima (Samoan beer) and a time to bond with the new people in my life! This all brings me to today. Today has been spent doing training. The weekend is coming up and I’m excited because I will get more of an opportunity to explore the town and get to hang out with the other PCV’s. I’ll try and make my postings pretty regular but training makes me sooo busy, so patience would be greatly appreciated. J

Group 83 just arrived to Samoa!!!

Primary school we passed on the way to Apia.

Some of Group 82 helping with the Ava Ceremony

Jo bringing the Ava

The delicious roasted pig we had during our Ulu. (A feast that was prepared for us the night we arrived.)