Monday, May 30, 2011

Challenge Kick off

May 24, 2011

The biggest challenge to Samoan Challenge III is getting the Peace Corps Volunteers, who are all primary school teachers, involved. They represent the outreach to the rural village segment of the Challenge and who are somewhat tainted by hard feelings regarding last year’s Challenge.

The teachers have a point about being asked to do an additional Village Based project at a time when they are in the classroom, tutoring, or preparing lessons. They are also not familiar with the workings of local village politics and church organizations. Likewise, the National Health Service and the Women in Business Development (WIBD) organization, who is sponsoring the event, are not comfortable with the fact that they cannot count on teachers during school hours, which is the time they conduct their village activities.

Against this backdrop, I presented my revised program to the newest group of Peace Corps teachers. My main message to them is the same as to the Samoans who participate, “Try”. I think they will and for that I am happy.

My WIBD boss, Tusitina Nu’uvali, also did a fine job describing her organization’s role in the Challenge. She sited 5,000 as an overall Challenge target, but did a reversal on me when she agreed under pressure that the Challenge would provide gifts to Peace Corps village participants. The next day I asked her if she realized what she had to commit doing. Her jaw dropped when asked, where are we going to get the money for maybe 2-3,000 prizes? In true Samoan fashion, how to pay for things comes later. It was good to get her public support.

The next task is how to get scales and materials out to 35 Peace Corps throughout the country. In true Samoan fashion, I shall be concerned about that later.

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