Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Myth of Fa'aSamoa

June 26, 2007

The Myth of Fa’a Samoa

All I have read extols the “Samoan Way”, or “Fa’a Samoa”. This is the slow and easy way of life, when savoring the pleasures of life come at a leisurely and enjoyable pace. I have yet to find or experience Fa’a Samoa.

Ever since we got off the plane in Apia, our schedule is regulated more by time than the importance of the subject matter or our comprehension of the material. Flipcharts, marker boards, binders, and Power Point presentations come at timetable intervals. Posters scream the day’s activities. The watch rules. Our daily schedule begins at 8:00 am sharp and ends at 4:30 pm. No one dare discover the penalty for tardiness.

Then after the Peace Corps classes end, the time table for the village begins. At 5:30 pm a conch shell sounds marking that you have 30 minutes to stop what you are doing and return to your home. At 6:00 pm the conch sounds again, as well as, the church bell to signal the beginning of prayer time or “Lotu”. Men sit in the middle of the village and patrol the village to make sure no one is out of their homes. At 6:15 pm, the conch sounds again, marking the end of prayer time and allowing people to once again leave homes. At 10:00 pm the conch sounds again, marking curfew for everyone in the village.

On Saturday, almost all stores close at noon as people prepare for Sunday.

On Sunday, almost all activity stops. This is the time for church and to stay in your house the rest of the time. In our village the Congregational Church starts at 8:30 am. The clocks on the wall face out towards the congregation. If you are late, everyone knows.
At 4:00 pm, the Youth Group has a service which we attend. Other demoninations have similar routines, just different times or days.

Somewhere Fa’a Samoa exists. Some say it happens after our training classes when we become real Peace Corps Volunteers.

1 comment:

pauldahl said...

Demoninations? Nick, methinks a little more chruch going would be in order as a simple slip of a "n" and "m" makes a totally different word. It gave me a good laugh.