Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peace Corps

What it means to be in the Peace Corps
Yesterday was two months since we arrived in the country. We have all had a lot of wonderful experiences and learned a lot. However I am still not sure if I know the feeling of what it actually means to be a person in the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps is a truly unique position to hold. There are three main objectives that I am to accomplish by being a part of it. The first one is to share with my host country the ideas of Americans are like. By living with me for the few years they will have a better understanding of what it means to be an American and to hopefully gain their respect. I’ve shared with my family in Manunu pictures that I have and post cards that I have brought. Since the family does not have access to a television, it was their first views of America which seemed pretty amazing to me. As an American we seem to have the whole world at our fingertips. If we want to learn about something we can go to the library and research it and see a lot of pictures. Here, I only know of one library, and it is in Apia, so it is not accessible to most. It seems like many schools do not have libraries, and books in general are very rare. While in Manunu we saw only one family with more than 5 books. Americans also have the internet at their fingertips and can go to many places to go online and Wikipedia anything. In Samoa internet is very scarce. There are places that you can go for wifi, however it is very expensive. Internet cafes are also pricey. Some people do have dial up internet in their houses, however from what I am told the companies are unreliable. They will often disconnect you for no reason and are often changing their phone numbers to make it difficult. Also you need to pay by the minute for the landline of your telephone and pay by the minute for your internet time. From what I was told I think the minimum wage for Samoa is around $2 tala. That is about $1 American. For an hour of internet where I am it is $15 tala. When you have so many other financial obligations to your family, it is very unrealistic to think that some of the money may go for internet. (This means if you would like to help me share pictures by sending me postcards, I world love it!)
The second is to share with other Americans about the beauty and ideals of Samoa. To understand this I need to deeply put myself inside the lives of a Samoan. This makes me very happy I am not going to be living near a city and will get to know more of what it means to be a Samoan. I am looking forward to learning the language to communicate in every little part of my day. I will be involved in the different community functions as well as get involved with my Samoan family and see how they do things on a daily routine. This will mean hopefully learning how to cook on the fire, make the Samoan oven, and more fun trips to the plantation!
The last objective for myself is to use my knowledge to make my community for the next two years a better place and put together projects that will be ongoing well after I leave Samoa. This will be a two part process. I will first be teaching English in the classroom and co teaching with another teacher to work on using different teaching methods. We are also to put on staff development sessions to hopefully work with the teachers to learn new strategies to deal with incorrect behavior, other than corporal punishment. We are also to go into the community and set up different projects that will make the community a better place. Where I am moving they would like me to set up gardens and do some other projects that I am unsure of at this time.
For the past two months we have been babied by having our mail delivered directly to us. (Opposed to starting tomorrow, where the mail is delivered once a week, and it is about an hour bus ride to the post office to pick up my mail.) We can have language help pretty much any hour of the day. (I can get a Samoan tutor in my new village but I will be the one to do all the preparations for it.) Having our medicines for any ailment we think we might have delivered directly to us, and fast. (We will have a medical kit, but it might be a long trip to go see our amazing medical officer Teuila. We will have to do a lot more self diagnosing using our handy dandy medical guide and letting her know what it is we have. We still will get our medicines, but it will not be as easy as before.) We will also not have filtered water readily available for us and will have to filter it ourselves.
No matter what I am excited to see what the job entails. I am excited to understand what ti means to be in the Peace Corps and have it make as big a difference in my life as it has in many other people’s lives.

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