I assume that the 13 new trainees in Group 84 are busy packing, saying good bye to friends and family and studying Samoan. If it's any consolation, a lot of people are busy in Samoa, preparing for your arrival.
A housing update - I heard from a reliable source that almost all of you will be living in a room in a family's home. That may sound disappointing but not to worry. The current volunteers living with that arrangement are actually among the happiest with their housing.
You'll have a chance to really improve your language skills and become part of a new family, learning their customs and habits. And because of the culture, you'll be well taken care of and will have no worries about safety.
A couple more thoughts on packing - about blow dryers, etc. I have one that I was given by a former volunteer (thanks, Blakey!) who said she hadn't used it in her two years of service. Many of the women in our group have them, and some also have and use flat irons.
I only use mine when I'm in Apia, which is rare. And I really only use it then for expediency, to get my hair dry. In the village, where I spend most of my time, it's just wash and wear.
The same is true for makeup. It's so hot and humid here that makeup just melts off. It will be both a chore and delight to go to using it when I return to the States.
If you're wondering about dry bags - they are widely used by many of the volunteers. I haven't found a need, but we each have different lifestyles. I brought the giant shrink/pack bags and haven't used them. Weight is the issue for me in packing, not space. Another volunteer, though, uses hers regularly.
Bottom line on packing - don't sweat it. Shopping has really improved and you can get what you need in country.
Peace Corps recommended to us that we bring small gifts for our host families. Having lived here for awhile, I can tell you that chocolate is always appreciated. You can buy some in Samoa but it is really expensive. M&Ms hold up well and I've gotten Snickers bars and other things shipped to me that arrived in great condition.
I mentioned knives in a previous post as being a great gift. The ones here are cheap and break easily.
Like I said earlier, staff and volunteers are busy preparing for your arrival. Unfortunately, we've been told not to come to the airport when you arrive, but don't worry - PC staff will be there with a giant banner and lots of hugs. We'll be meeting you your first week at a fia fia (party) that will include food, dancing and afi siva.
I hope you're enjoying your farewells...beautiful Samoa is waiting for you.