Sunday, November 23, 2008

Learning the Hard Way


Just a few houses away and next to the road is a wonderful garden, which is completely fenced, and currently overgrown with weeds. Since my own “demonstration” garden is shaded, currently fully planted, and unseen by anyone other than my host family, I got permission from the owner and permission tentatively granted by the mayor, my host father/son to plant there. I was in heaven, finally the perfect demonstration garden. I started to dig as people passed, anxious to see new crops and learn gardening methods. A big mistake.

The next day the mayor said that since I lived with him and was considered his guest, it was improper to work on someone else’s land. This was an about-face. I said that I did not understand this Samoan custom, but would abide by his wishes. Was it permissible to work with other farmers, give them advice and seeds, as long as I did not dig. He agreed. Of course the real reason for the injunction was he has acted as if I am “his’ Peace Corps. When others in his clique asked if he was having problems with “his” Peace Corps, jealousy or vanity took charge.

In a subsequent meeting, I restated that I am an employee of the Peace Corps, invited by the Samoan government, and his entire village to assist in their development. I intended to act accordingly. The entire village paid for the house in which I stay but have never been fully informed as to why I am there. Their fear of the mayor has kept them quiet and away.

I said to the mayor I view my Peace Corps role to that of a match, bringing new ideas, some of which catch on and grow, others not; sometimes one gets burned. He laughed, maybe not thinking of the possible benefits and dangers of boys playing with fire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since you into landscaping maybe you ought start at the house of the mayor and then the rest of the village. At least leave that behind if and when you are gone "Nico Appleseed" something meaningful. Dust to dust!