Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Just looking over my posts I realized that I have not shared my amazing Halloween experience with everyone. Halloween this year was on a Saturday and we were looking forward to joining the rest of the volunteers for their usual celebration at an Apia drinking establishment….. but because it was on a Saturday it caused too many difficulties. We were not able to go because we would get back too late for our families likings and it would not be culturally acceptable for us to go back the next day as it is rude to enter the village on a church day. That meant we would be making our own celebration.
We started off the week teaching our families about Halloween. Some of us ran into more difficulties than others. I remember hearing about Emi’s experience with her family. She told her family that people dress up and go to houses and ask for candy. She heard one of her brothers tell someone else that Halloween is a holiday where, “people wear masks and rob others for candy”. So as you can tell some well a lot less successful.
My family knew a lot more about the holiday, about 23 years ago they were in American Samoa for the holiday and were able to celebrate it. My two oldest siblings in the family dressed up and collected a lot of candy. So when I told my family we were putting on our own Halloween party for the children of Manunu they were immediately expecting us to shell out tons of money for candy for their children.
One day at lunch time I taught my family the trick or treat rhyme, only I made a mistake and said it wrong. I told them it was, “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat, if you don’t I don’t care, I’ll pull down my underwear.” They thought it was hysterical and were saying this phrase for weeks following Halloween.
So for our Halloween we decorated the church hall with our fun construction paper cut into different designs. Then we set up different stations for the children. There was a place for “Pin the Nose on the Clown”, musical chairs, duck duck goose, pumpkin decorating (on construction paper), face painting (with markers), limbo, and races. They had all different kind of races, 3-legged races, sack races, mask making, relay races, and maybe a few more of them. I really wish there was real pumpkin decorating as pumpkins are in season…but maybe that’s a plan for next year.
The children showed up ready for fun. They ransacked the area to play all of the different games. I played with them musical chairs for a little bit and then helped out at the pumpkin decorating station. We were having a good time then in true Halloween fashion…. We had a blackout!
There were probably over 50 kids screaming and running around along with several teenagers who came to see what kind of trouble they could get themselves into. There was no light whatsoever for a few minutes, until some of us Peace Corps found the little flash lights we used to walk to our Halloween festival. We tried to corral the children onto the floor just to have a little bit of order. I don’t really think we really had a plan of what we would do with the children once they got onto the floor.
Finally Elu (Dan) stepped up. Elu started doing a ton of clapping exercises to get the children to quiet down and pay attention to him. He started the children on a spooky story. We all knew that many of the children’s ability for speaking and understanding were limited so he used all of us who dressed up.
The story began in a quiet little village of Manunu were everything was peaceful…Until….A giagantic bumblebee (Kaelini) came to the town and scared all the children. The children of the village were extremely scared of the bee. Suddenly a ghost showed up (me) to scare the bee away. The ghost haunted the village running around making spooky noises. Next, a pirate (Viliamu) came to scare the ghost away. The story went on with tigers (Emi and the children she drew tiger faces on), a cat (Ali), and I think a few more people. When Elu was about to run out of things to say, a nice Peace Corps (Katelini) entered the story with a gigantic bag of candy. They held the bag up in the air, reminding me of a piƱata and all of a sudden dropped it on the floor. The children were going crazy to try and pick up as many little pieces as they could while fighting each other for some of the pieces.
So our story was over, and the lights were still out….and we really did not know what to do.
But…we still had music from our battery speakers working off of our Ipod. So Lasela and I tried to get the children into a game of freeze dance. A few of the older once picked it up, however it was very difficult as some of the little children were still screaming from the lights being off.
Finally, almost an hour after the lights went off, they suddenly turned back on. We were so relieved and had the children playing the games again. However the noise level was still too loud for us to enjoy our time. Kaelini came up with the amazing idea to play limbo with the children where the exit point is out the door. It worked and the gym was a lot quieter…
But the children did not understand the idea of leaving the hall and not coming back as they all filtered back into the room. So…we played limbo again, and most of them did leave. There were still a few kids drawing and it was upsetting to force them to leave, but we were getting way too exhausted.
We cleaned up for about half an hour, but did not want to call it a night.
In Manunu there is an old fale ruins where all that is left is the stairs leading up, and a few concrete columns. I never heard what the structure used to be, or even the significance of it, but we all came to love this area. We decided to go up there and in true American fashion share ghost stories. It was such a great night, and it was sad to see it end.
The next day for church children still had their markings from our face painting, and some of them were having difficulties parting ways with their masks. It was amazing to see how much these little children appreciated us for sharing our holiday with them.
I honestly think it was one of the best Halloweens I have ever experienced. I would love for group 82to go back to Manunu next year and continue the tradition.

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