Saturday, June 9, 2007

Day 1 in Samoa

Group 78 Arrives in Samoa

(Hello, In Samoan)

After a 10 hour plane ride through the night, we arrived in Samoa at 5:00 am to start what we were to find out was a full day. We were greeted at the airport by other Peace Corps volunteers on the island, given a “warm” welcome, with leis made of fresh flowers. The only problem at customs was the suspicious Wiffle Ball bat carried by one of our group.

It is hard to describe all we experienced on Day 1, but I shall try with what I feel are the most important events.

The Samoan People:
On the flight to Samoa, a large Samoan man sat across the aisle from us. We never spoke, but upon landing he got Mary’s and my carry on luggage down from the overhead bins for us. He never asked to do it. He just did. Never said a word and went on his way. We think he overheard our conversations about the Peace Corps.

At the airport, I sat my bag next to a seated Samoan. He asked if I was in the Peace Corps. After acknowledging I was, he went on to say praise the Peace Corps.

At a restaurant, our waiter’s family even hosted a Peace Corps volunteer in their home.

We are finding the people to be one the quiet side, but very friendly with a willing smile and laugh. It feels good to be in a place where we are welcomed as Americans and glad to see the impact of over forty years of Peace Corps in Samoa.

The Lava Lava:
Every person got a lava lava in their welcome kit. Most put them on. I must say getting them to stay up, standing and sitting requires more practice. They are great to wear and most men wear them on the street.
Shane Twilla, Justin Newum
Our Hotel
A picture is not worth a thousand words. What can I say about Apia Central other than it has AC in the room along with a double bed, folding chair and desk, a shower more like a garden hose. Not four star by Western standards, but any place with AC is worth four stars here. The hotel is our home for the next ten days as we have sessions from morning to evening. After which we go to a rural village to continue our training.

The Weather
It is tropical. If you have experienced it, there is no need to explain. If you have not, I can’t explain it, except to say we drink lots of water.

Our Training
We had language classes our first day. These will continue for the next 3 months, twice a day, six days a week. Their technique is to jump in start swimming; very little on textbooks, a lot on just muddling your way though with the hope you will finally get it. Teachers are native Samoans.a

At the End of the Day:
After a very log and trying Day 1, we lay in bed wondering what we have gotten ourselves into. Is this really for us? We learn from others here of the high washout rate, the frustrations of not doing as much as you would like. There is every reason to return home, and there is every reason to continue.

As I write this in the early morning dark, the roosters are crowing, the kittens meowing, and the sun is about to rise. It is a new day.

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