Friday, October 26, 2012

A Little This and That About Utulaelae

I went for a short ride one evening with the man in charge of training to discuss some possible adjustments to the training. We passed a fale with a thatched roof. A kerosene lamp lit the night as the man in the fale watched the biggest flat screen tv I've ever seen.

 It was chilly in the training village. My BFF, a PCV who lives in a nearby village has said for two years that she just about freezes to death every night. I've told her repeatedly that it's not cold it's just because she has 0% body fat. Well, I am eating those words because I have a smidgen of body fat and I got cold several nights. The trainees, bless their hearts, were complaining about how hot it is at night. Don't tell them this may be the coolest they ever are in Samoa.

The first day of training we realized there was no table in the fale. We needed one for our laptops, printer, etc. At 7:00 a.m. we reminded the patriarch of the family of our need. By 8:00 a.m. a couple of his sons/son-in-laws had built a table. That's one thing about Samoans. If they want something to happen, it happens!

 Many of the trainees attended church prior to coming to Samoa. Many did not. They are getting a full dose now. Some are attending 5:00 a.m. prayer service along with daily evening prayers and twice a day church on Sundays.

 I was raised a Methodist, but there isn't a Methodist church in my village. I was happy to have a chance to attend two in the training village.At one point in both services, everyone kneeled. But rather than kneeling facing forward, toward the altar, they knelt facing the pew they had just vacated. Hard on the knees on the cement floor for a twenty minute prayer but provided a much-needed stretch for my back which has been acting up the last couple of months.

With the help of several trainees, I taught a group of kids to play Duck, Duck, Goose during a break in training. They continued to play over the two weeks. My last day there, one trainee reported that several of the little kids were playing in the adjoining village of Utulaelae where most of the trainees are staying. Some older guys - in their teens and twenties joined the little kids. They would walk around the circle, tapping heads and saying duck, duck, goose and then run around the whole village, with the "goose" in hot pursuit. Whatever works.

 Several of us played Uno after class on Friday, my last night in the village. Half Samoan staff and half palagi trainees/me, we had a lot of laughs. The fun ended for one trainee when her host mom arrived before 7 p.m. to take her home for dinner. She got a scolding for staying out so late.

Welcome to life in Samoa, where it is most appropriate to be home before sunset on a Friday night in time for prayer and dinner. A big change from life in the USA for a 29 year old.

 I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the village with the new group. They're enthusiastic, smart and picking up the language quickly (damn them!) The host family is great and it was fun to run into one of my new "sisters" today while shopping in Apia. I'm ready to head home to Savaii, but it was a great way to spend a couple of weeks at the close of my service.

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