I know that friends and family of PCV’s read each other’s blogs, so with group 83 Samoa coming in a few days, I wanted to give the new group’s family advice.
1. Don’t be surprised if the volunteer has a new obsession with poop. It seems to be a common discussion topic among us here. Since we all talk about it, we sometimes get confused when others don’t want to hear about our fecal matter.
2. Training is a stressful time. Most of us come from living by ourselves, and go straight into living with a family of 5-25. (Although my family only had 14, another person in my group did have 25.) It is a strange adjustment for us. So be patient.
3. Everyone tries to keep in contact with people at home, but sometimes stores run out of phone credit. So if we are neglecting to contact our loved people at home, we are also neglecting our friends here. While we are out in the village, especially our training village, internet is near impossible. We still love you!
4. Send pictures, not just over the internet. Everyone loves to see the pictures we get in the mail. They think they know my entire family and everything about them from my descriptions of the pictures. Postcards are also pretty amazing!
5. When we start learning Samoan, a few Samoan words become engrained into our English vocabulary. (I honestly forget that people don’t say those words at home.) Just ask us, and we will help you understand us.
6. Since we are teaching in primary schools, we might begin to sound British. The English language we use is theirs, so we need to spell unAmerican English. (Besides just our writing, I have been told by many that I have developed a Canadian accent. I don’t know how that is possible, but we might begin to lose the normal way we talk.)
7. Don’t get scared of stories of our cuts and bruises. They are just battle wounds. We are strong and are being careful. (Even when we jump off cliffs into waterfalls…I promise it is safe!)
8. Our taste in music probably will change. The pop music sensation mixed with ABBA (Mamma Mia) grows on us. So when you hear Backstreet Boys in the background, don’t be surprised. We had the Macarena blaring the other day on repeat for awhile. I am not saying that is normal, even by Samoan standards.
9. Remember there is a time difference when you try to call us. Being awoken at 2am is not fun for anyone.
10. Make sure you tell us how much you miss us and love us. Even when you are having a bad day. When we talk to people struggling, it rubs off on us, and although our support group is strong here, it is not as strong as it was back at home. One bad message can stay on us for a long time.
Hope this helps!